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Strike hits envelope supply at Australian Paper

Wednesday, 24 January 2018
By Graham Osborne

As industrial action at Australian Paper’s envelope-manufacturing facility in Melbourne enters its second week, union organisers say the company is quickly running out of envelopes.

About 90 AMWU members at Australian Paper in Preston are on an indefinite stop work to protest against what they describe as management plans to strip their pay and conditions.

Union organiser Dean Griffiths says the industrial action is beginning to hit the company’s customers. “We’ve heard from people inside the warehouse that they’re quickly running out of envelopes. Officeworks is running out of its premium line of envelopes and other customers are facing delays in getting their orders filled.” The company’s customers include major banks and government departments.

The company has been contacted for comment. In a statement last week, Craig Dunn, Australian Paper’s general manager, communications, said: “The discussions between Australian Paper and our employees are ongoing and remain confidential. We have measures in place to meet the needs of customers during this phase of our discussions.”

On the picket line at Preston.

Griffiths says three workers out of 90 employed at the plant have crossed the picket line but the majority are holding firm because they don’t trust the company.

“We’ve asked for modest increases of 2.5 percent over three years. The company has offered a four-year deal with zero per cent in the first year. They’re also looking to cut RDOs and change employee classifications.

“We last heard from the company on Monday when they sent an email offering to negotiate outstanding issues but they say they won’t do so while industrial action is taking place. I know what this company is like because they’ve lied to us for five months. If they get us around the negotiating table they’ll just say ‘no’ to everything again. These guys on the picket line just don’t trust the company anymore.”

Australian Paper, Australia’s only manufacturer of printing and packaging paper, is owned by Japanese giant Nippon Paper Industries, one of the ten largest companies in the global forest, paper and packaging industry.

In its 2017 annual report, Nippon Paper president Fumio Manoshiro spoke of the need to transform the company’s business structure in the face of a continued fall in demand for paper.

Fumio Manoshiro, president Nippon Paper Industries.

Our steady progress in transforming our business structure was not enough to fully offset the slump in existing businesses. Even though earnings increased in comparison with the previous fiscal year, we fell short of the targets in the medium-term plan, which is very disappointing.

Our tasks in FY2018/3 are clear: We must adjust prices, stabilize mill operations and further speed up the transformation of our business structure. We will continue to make every effort to realize these objectives.

I also think it is important to make sure that our employees fully understand our Group Mission, which we formulated concurrently with this medium-term business plan.

Production workers at the Australia Paper’s Maryvale paper mill last year agreed to take a five per cent pay cut in a bid to secure the future of the operation.

 

 

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