Lift workers make headway with wage claim
By Sue Brooke
MELBOURNE — Workers in the lift industry have joined the campaign by construction workers against the federal government's tax on fares and travel.
The current phase of the campaign is to force employers to pay the wage loss caused by the new tax. Workers who install and maintain lifts, covered by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, began bans and limitations in September to force employers to pay up.
The campaign resulted in stand-downs in Sydney. Victorian lift industry workers responded with a 24-hour strike on October 4, followed by an escalation of the bans and limitations.
After three months of refusing to negotiate, one of the three largest employers, Schindler, and three small companies made a deal with the union for a $14.80 a day travel allowance, which increases to $17.45 on January 1. The settlement covers 30% of the industry.
The other two major employers began standing down workers on October 8. Workers responded by going on indefinite strike. Flying pickets have been held at depots, big hotels and shopping centres to prevent scab supervisors from fixing lifts.
On October 9, construction workers at the Crown Casino site stopped work because if someone got stranded in a site lift, no-one could get them out.