Workers strike over sackings
By Alastair Dickinson
SYDNEY — On July 29, workers at Plastiflex Australia, a small Belgian-owned enterprise in Sydney's western suburbs, walked off the job to begin a 48-hour strike against management's refusal to accept a trade union presence at the factory.
The National Union of Workers began trying to organise there three months ago, after which six workers were sacked. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) is now also recruiting at Plastiflex.
Plastiflex management has threatened to sack a further eight workers, including the workplace union delegate. The workers are demanding reinstatement of the sacked workers and completion of an enterprise bargaining agreement, which has been under negotiation for some time.
Of a work force of 25, 16 are now union members. Many of those workers are women from non-English-speaking backgrounds. Language difficulties in negotiating with management are among the reasons the workers want to become organised.
During the dispute, non-union workers were sent home. According to an AMWU industrial officer, management has also threatened to close down the factory and convert it into warehouse if the workers persist with their demands.
Negotiations on the enterprise agreement and the reinstatement of workers continue. To send a message of solidarity or donations, write to J. Lehn, Industrial Officer, AMWU, PO Box 167, Granville 2142, or phone (02) 9897 2011.