Victory for Midford women
By Bernie Brian
WOLLONGONG — Seventy five women who had been picketing the Midford Paramount clothing factory because their former employer owed them $450,000 in superannuation and retrenchment entitlements have claimed victory.
Midford-Paramount had been sold to the Sydney-based Gazal Corporation in 1990. Ownership was transferred to a Gazal subsidiary, Zallag Holdings, although Gazal maintained ownership of all stock, machinery and the Midford label. When Zallag went into liquidation last month, it was unable to meet redundancy provisions for its work force and Gazal refused to accept any responsibility.
However, in a dramatic turnaround last week, Gazal director Michael Gazal offered to pay $400,000 to the women. It is believed that the main reason for the about-face was the bad publicity the company was receiving and the call for a boycott of Gazal products by the NSW Trades and Labour Council. Just prior to Gazal's back-down, the company had lost over $1 million in cancelled orders from a group of Catholic schools in South Australia.
One of the picketers, Helen, who had worked at the plant for six years, told Green Left, "We wanted to win, but we didn't think we had much of a chance. When we heard we had got the money, it was better than Christmas."
Helen felt there was a lesson for all workers in the dispute. "Don't let people with money walk all over you; we've all got our rights. We were treated like animals inside that factory, but we put up with it because we were scared of losing our jobs. So they thought they could walk all over us and say, 'That's it, bad luck, there's no money so
just go away'. But we stood up to them, and look what we've achieved."
Helen also felt that the dispute had "disproved the notion that women won't fight and won't stick together. We stuck together and we have done as well as anyone could have hoped."