Workers denied pay rise for three years


Workers from Kennon Auto in Melbourne have not received a pay rise for the past three years. They stopped work on July 1 because their boss is refusing to negotiate a collective agreement.

The workers make parts for Toyota. They are ex-Nylex workers who had to fight to keep entitlements after Nylex went into receivership. Some of Nylex’s product lines were sold to Kennon Auto.

The new owner initially signed an agreement to protect entitlements. But negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement have allegedly been met with intimidation. Management initially refused to start negotiations with the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union (TCFUA), despite the workers requesting the union’s involvement.

A worker told Green Left Weekly that the boss presented a substandard agreement. Each worker was individually taken in to the management’s office and told to vote on the agreement. The ballot only had a place for a “yes” answer; there was no option to vote “no”.
Six workers refused to be separated for the vote and would not sign the document.

The unacceptable agreement was to be presented at the Industrial Relations Commission, but Kennon withdrew it at the last minute.
The TCFUA applied for protected action, which included rolling stoppages.

On the picket line, workers were surprised when the police tactical response group and uniformed police turned up, outnumbering those on the picket line. One of the workers told GLW: “The actions of the police and company have made the workers more resilient. Fancy calling the tactical response police against low-paid workers.”

Most truck drivers have respected the peaceful assembly and not crossed the picket line.


I've heard that some of the workers on $30 hourly rate, just wondering why they still want to strike?