Electrical Trades Union

“Join your union and bargain together” is the lesson from the recent pay campaign by EDI-Downer workers, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) NSW assistant secretary Corey Wright told Green Left Weekly.

A three-day strike involving mass meetings, rallies and a march of 200 workers down Newcastle’s Hunter Street, encouraged the company to start serious discussions with the union after six months of stalling.

In the biggest union mobilisation in Australia in more than a decade, up to 120,000 unionists and supporters descended on the streets of Melbourne on May 9.

The protest was organised as part of the Change the Rules campaign. The rally followed a mass delegates meeting in April and was the conclusion of nearly a fortnight of union actions across the country to launch the campaign.

On January 13 Socialist Alliance members took the opportunity to visit the striking Esso workers in Longford who have been maintaining their picket line for more than 200 days.

The picket was established on June 20 last year in protest at 200 sacked Esso workers being offered their jobs back with a 30% pay cut and unfair roster changes.

More than 150 unionists and two giant inflatable mascots rallied outside Esso's Australian headquarters in Southbank, Melbourne, on August 3. The rally was organised by the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU), the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

The rally was in support of maintenance workers who have been picketing Esso's Longford gas site since June in protest over the plan by UGL, which holds Esso’s maintenance contract, to retrench them and have a subsidiary rehire them on 30% less pay and a two-week fly-in, fly-out roster.

Hundreds of Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members and other unionists protested outside Crown's casino complex in Southbank on July 25, after marching from the State Library of Victoria.

It was part of what the ETU promises to be an orchestrated campaign against former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett and the Crown Casino over the sacking of 16 gaming technicians.

Just months after an Electrical Trades Union (ETU) victory against Carlton and United Breweries, a much larger battle looms over Melbourne’s industrial landscape. 

In early July, the behemoth Crown Casino laid off its entire electrical workforce. Like the Carlton brewery before it, the casino has tendered an electric gaming contract to the poker machine supplier Amtek. Just three weeks ago Amtek advertised the new casino positions, with wages set at 50% of the old salary.

About 65 workers at the Parmalat dairy factory in Echuca, Victoria, have been locked out since January 18 in a dispute over the company's plan to radically slash pay for new employees.

Parmalat is a national dairy company, whose brands include Pauls, Oak and Vaalia. In February last year it was bought by French-based company Lactalis, the largest dairy manufacturing company in the world. Emmanuel Besnier, CEO of Lactalis, has a personal worth of $6.7 billion and in 2015, Parmalat Australia’s sales revenue was $1.65 billion.

It has been 125 days since the Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) plant in Abbotsford sacked 55 electricians and fitters, who have a combined history of 906 years of service at CUB, and a protest was begun at the brewery gates.

Since then, the ownership and labour contractor of CUB have changed and thousands of Australians have joined a boycott of CUB products.

Community and union supporters joined sacked Carleton & United Breweries (CUB) workers and "Scabby the Rat" for a lunchtime protest outside Wallan Engineering in Campbellfield, in Melbourne's northern suburbs on September 15.

Wallan has been supplying most of the scabs to replace the CUB maintenance workforce, who were sacked, only to be offered the same work with a 65% wage cut, under an external labour hire company enterprise bargaining agreement.

Thousands of protesters converged on central Melbourne on September 7, marching through the CBD and blocking traffic at key intersections to support sacked brewery workers.

In the latest escalation of the dispute, unions are demanding the AFL pressure Carlton & United Breweries, one of its major sponsors, to meet the workers and to re-engage them immediately at full wages and conditions, or "face a CUB beer-free footy finals season".

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