Another company is following in the footsteps of Qantas by locking out its workers from March 5 to 14.
Sigma, a company that distributes pharmacy products to wholesale and retail customers, locked out 150 workers in an attempt to intimidate them into ceasing all industrial action. The workers are members of the National Union of Workers.
The workers walked off the job for 48 hours on February 23 after Sigma management told them that it would cut night-time shift loadings. Workers at both the company’s sites at Rowville in Melbourne and Shepparton walked off.
Workers also walked off the job for 48 hours on March 1.
Although the lockout ended on March 14, the workers decided to remain on an indefinite strike because the company has refused to back down on its plan to remove night-shift loadings. Workers are maintaining a 24-hour a day picket line and blocking trucks.
Sigma owns some of the largest retail pharmacy brands in Australia including Amcal and Guardian. It has ceased to manufacture pharmaceuticals after selling its drug manufacturing section to South African Aspen Pharmacare. It now deals solely with distribution of medications to around 4000 pharmacies.
The strikers have called for supporters to help strengthen the around-the-clock picket line at Sigma, 3 Myer Place, Rowville.