Locked out workers picket luxury hotel

January 31, 2001


MELBOURNE — Fourteen maintenance workers have set up a picket line outside the luxury Grand Hyatt Hotel after management locked them out on January 19. The lockout followed seven months of negotiations for an enterprise agreement that would increase the workers' wages to the industry standard.

The qualified tradespeople — members of the Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) — earn a paltry $539 per week before tax. During the negotiations, management showed no willingness to compromise.

Taking advantage of the federal government's Workplace Relations Act, hotel managers demanded that the workers sign an agreement accepting their current conditions. When the workers refused, they were locked out without pay.

Shop steward Mark Adams told Green Left Weekly that the management was contemptuous towards staff, refusing to consider workers' suggestions about ways to improve efficiency that, if implemented, would save the hotel enough money to compensate for pay increases.

The Grand Hyatt workers have received support from other unionists, with hundreds of CFMEU members walking off nearby construction sites on January 23 and 24 to join the picket.

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