Union threatens stoppage in Illawarra

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Union threatens stoppage in Illawarra

By Andrew Hall

WOLLONGONG — Unionists and their supporters have been picketing outside GrainCorp's Pivot fertiliser plant at Port Kembla after workers were sacked without notice on February 1.

The long-term casual workers had been negotiating an employment agreement with the company for 12 months. They were due to finalise negotiations on February 5, but instead were replaced by workers from Drake International Recruitment.

Australian Workers Union branch secretary Graham Roberts said: "In 23 years as a union official I have seen some pretty shameful acts by employers against workers. The way these young Australian workers have been treated by GrainCorp is the absolute worst. I can think of no other time when I have been so disgusted. They will be given the full support of the union."

A meeting of district union delegates on February 25 endorsed a regional stoppage in the Illawarra after GrainCorp threatened to take legal action and seek damages against Roberts and South Coast Labour Council secretary Paul Matters over "unlawful" actions outside the Pivot plant. These actions included picketing the plant and urging truck drivers not to cross the picket line.

The delegates also supported the placing of bans on Drake International.

The police on the picket line have been used as private security guards for GrainCorp, assisting trucks to break the line. Several picketers have been arrested and the police have forced picketers to sit in the sun in 40 degree temperatures, rather than in the only shade available one metre inside the plant's entry gate.