Textile workers reject non-union agreement

April 21, 2007

Workers at Wangaratta fabric manufacturer Bruck Textiles defeated a second attempt by management to implement a non-union agreement in votes held on April 19 and 20. Bruck tried to entice workers to sign its sub-standard non-union agreement with a 3% annual pay increase that wouldn't even keep up with inflation.

Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union Victorian state secretary Michele O'Neil said the dispute shows that "workers want the protection of a collective union agreement. They don't want to be pushed into non-union agreements containing some starting pay rates less than the federal government's minimum, that remove guaranteed Christmas annual leave breaks and open up being stood down without pay, as well as major shift changes without agreement from workers."

O'Neil added: "What are a number of starting pay rates less than that of the Australian Fair Pay and Condition Standards doing in a post-Work Choices agreement? The Howard government is blatantly failing on its empty promise that wages would be 'protected by law' under its IR regime. The best protection workers have from the anti-worker laws is to be a member of a union."

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