Protests against PacBrands sackings continue

Issue 

While Pacific Brands continues to show contempt for its workers and refuses to reverse its decision to axe 1850 jobs, trade union and community opposition to the cuts is gaining momentum.

Three hundred people gathered outside the Pacific Brands Bonds factory in Unanderra, Wollongong, on March 10. More than 200 jobs will be lost at the factory in the wake of the company's recent announcement to move production overseas.

"We're all just gutted", said Leslie Patterson, among the factory workers who joined the community protest after the end of their shift. As workers left the building, they let out a resounding cheer for the show of support.

"We have to make a stand and let people see … we are trying to do something", said Patterson.

Slavica Naumoska, an employee of more than 20 years, condemned the company's decision. "They really shouldn't have done this, especially with thousands of people losing their jobs — many have families to support and some have been there for decades", she told Green Left Weekly.

The rally closed with a procession of union representatives, including from the Transport Workers Union, the Maritime Union of Australia, the Health Services Union and the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union. All of them declared their support for the workers.

Meanwhile, Pacific Brands has come under renewed criticism as it was revealed in the March 10 Daily Telegraph that it has been paying $50,000 a month to PR firm Cato Counsel to help spin the sackings.

The company is suffering in the face of nationwide outrage. Public pressure has forced the company to withdraw its participation from the Melbourne Fashion Festival, thanks to planned protests, including from unionists dressed up as rats.

As public protests escalate, the government has indicated that it is not willing to do what is necessary to save the jobs: place the company under public ownership.