Workers at the PPG paint manufacturing plant at Villawood have been locked out for more than three months in a bitter dispute over pay and conditions.
The multinational company, which makes Taubmans, Bristol and White Knight paints, locked out 57 workers on August 10 after they refused to cancel legal industrial action during negotiations for a new enterprise agreement.
Talks between the workers’ unions — the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and United Voice — and management over a new EBA have continued since the previous agreement expired in August last year, but the company has refused to make a reasonable offer on pay and rostering issues. The company is pushing for a more demanding roster, while the workers want consultation on any changes and higher pay in return.
PPG workers have been picketing outside the Villawood plant during the lock-out. The company has brought in labour-hire staff while the dispute continues.
Union delegate Rob Byrne, who has worked for the company for 18 years, said employees wanted a say in whether they worked day or night shifts and to be paid more for being flexible: "We want it by agreement," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We have asked for $10,000, plus a 3% per year increase for four years under their terms.
"We would be happy with 1.8% if they rolled over the current agreement. But if they want more flexibility, they have to pay for what they want."
United Voice NSW secretary Mel Gatfield said the company had refused to negotiate reasonably, and had recycled "the same measly offer over and over again".
"They are expecting to make changes to workers' conditions that will have a massive impact on their lives without fair compensation. PPG are a profitable company and there's no reason why they can't negotiate with us fairly," she said.
An online petition being circulated by Byrne states: "I believe every worker should be able to enjoy a fair work/life balance, to spend quality time with their family — that's all we are asking for. This heartless action by PPG means my family is missing out on essential income. PPG is a multi-million dollar company — they should be bargaining in good faith, not denying our families their bread at the table.
"Together, we can send a powerful message to PPG: Stop the bully-boy tactics, look us in the eye and negotiate — that's what any reasonable employer would do.”
[You can sign the petition here.]