Australian Manufacturing Workers Union

Workers at the Streets ice-cream factory in the south-western Sydney suburb of Minto voted on November 22 to end a boycott campaign against the company, after agreeing to ratify an in-principle agreement with Streets over pay and other issues.

The new agreement will reportedly give the workers a 5% wage increase over three years, maintain their current working conditions and rosters and add 39 new flexible part-time jobs to the company’s workforce.

Workers at the PPG paint manufacturing plant at Villawood have been locked out for more than three months in a bitter dispute over pay and conditions.

The multinational company, which makes Taubmans, Bristol and White Knight paints, locked out 57 workers on August 10 after they refused to cancel legal industrial action during negotiations for a new enterprise agreement.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) launched its national boycott campaign against Streets ice cream products on October 29, urging people to “stand up for fairness and commit to a Streets-Free Summer”.

AMWU NSW secretary Steve Murphy said the workers had no choice but to call for a boycott after Streets “hit the nuclear option”.

More than 300 unionists and local residents protested outside the electorate office of Liberal MP for Drummoyne John Sidoti on August 4.

Chanting “John Sidoti’s got to go!” and waving placards opposing the NSW government’s planned privatisation of public buses in the Inner West, the protest elicited much support from passing motorists and pedestrians. There was no response, however, from Sidoti’s office.

Flags from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU), Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the Australian Services Union (ASU) were prominent.

The Geelong refinery dispute may not hold the record for the longest campaign for workers’ rights, but the dispute over safety nevertheless won due to a concerted campaign.

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".

Production and distribution workers at Carlton & United Breweries' (CUB) Abbotsford plant in Melbourne brought the site to a standstill for three hours on August 25, threatening further action if 55 sacked workers were not reinstated.

Two hundred members of United Voice and the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) at the brewery held a stop-work meeting to condemn CUB's sacking of its maintenance staff and raised concerns about the impact this has had on safety standards.

Carlton and United Brewery (CUB) is trying to impose a 65% pay cut on its maintenance workforce.

The 54 electricians and fitters were called to a meeting in a pub on June 10 and told their jobs were terminated. They were then told they could reapply for their jobs with a company called Catalyst Recruitment which is part of the Programmed/Skilled Group.

Five apprentices have been left in limbo with no jobs and no trade qualifications.

Maintenance workers at Griffin Coal and their supporters held a protest outside the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in Perth's CBD on July 5.

They called for a stay on the commission's decision to terminate the recent enterprise bargaining agreement between the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the company, citing the latter's alleged unprofitability.

Griffin Coal claims to be surviving only due to financial support from its parent company, Lanco Infratech.

The 70 workers, who work at Collie in WA's south-west, face a 43% pay cut if the FWC's decision were to stand.

The union movement’s opposition to the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) has ratcheted up since the agreement was signed in Canberra on June 17.

ChAFTA allows for 95% of Australian exports to China to be tariff free. These will include many agricultural products, including beef and dairy. In addition, there will be liberalisation of market access for the Australia's services sector, and investments by private companies from China under A$1.078 billion will not be subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval.

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