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FWC hearing set for Australian Paper strike

Wednesday, 07 February 2018
By Graham Osborne

Striking workers at Australian Paper in Preston, VIC.

A strike over wages and conditions by about 90 workers at Australia’s largest envelope manufacturer will go before the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in Melbourne tomorrow afternoon.

Australian Paper turned to the national workplace relations tribunal last week in a bid to find a solution to the industrial action by AMWU members at its Preston facility that has now entered its fourth week.

The union says the industrial action is now hitting major customers, including Office Works. “Speaking to the warehouse guys inside, they’ve never seen it so empty in there,” says AMWU delegate Dean Griffiths.

In a statement, Craig Dunn, Australian Paper’s GM Communications & Sustainability, said: “The Fair Work Commission has been asked to assist the parties in trying to reach a positive outcome and in the interim we are continuing to service our customers as required. While Australian Paper remains hopeful of an eventual return to work by our employees, we understand that this will be their decision.”

Griffiths says the picket line set up outside the facility continues to enjoy strong local support.

“The picket line is as strong as ever and we’re all sticking together. Spirits are high and we continue to get a lot of support from the local community and other unions.”

Griffiths is one of three AMWU delegates who will attend the Application to deal with a bargaining dispute hearing before Deputy President Colman at 3pm on Thursday 8 February, Fair Work Commission, 11 Exhibition Street, Melbourne.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the outcome and we’re expecting to get a better offer than the previous one,” says Griffiths. “Whatever the outcome is, we’ll then take it back to the members and get them to vote on it.”

Griffiths says he’s not expecting the FWC to order the workers back to work, as happened in the recent NSW train drivers strike, because “it’s not causing any hardship to the community and there are other envelope manufacturers.”

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