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Eight-week strike ends with no deal on wages

Tuesday, 06 March 2018
By Print 21 Online Article

AMWU Victoria Facebook post.

Workers at Australian Paper in Preston have agreed to return to work after an eight-week strike as negotiations continue over their demands for a 2.5 percent wage rise.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) announced the “triumphant” return in a media release titled Australian Paper workers celebrate win after 8-week strike:

Workers at Australian Paper in Preston returned to work today triumphant, with the company bowing to their two key demands after eight weeks on strike.

The company agreed to keep all of their Rostered Days Off (RDOs), and dump the grandfathering of wages system which would have seen up to 80 per cent of the workers face years without a pay rise.

The statement makes no mention about a demand for what the union called ‘a modest pay increase’ that was at the center of the dispute.

AMWU Victoria, in a Facebook post, declared: EVERYONE will get a pay rise! – without disclosing further details:

Australian Paper workers have WON! After 8 weeks on the picket line, the AMWU members will return to work triumphant after the company agreed to keep ALL RDOs, and dump the grandfathering of wages that would have seen many workers face pay freezes for years.

Australian Paper at Preston.

Australian Paper – owned by Nippon Paper Group – issued its own statement this afternoon:

Australian Paper is pleased to welcome our Preston employees back to work while we continue discussions to reach final agreement. We will also maintain a strong focus on meeting the needs of our customers as we finalise these discussions.

The workers – who make envelopes, playing cards and school books – were seeking an increase of 2.5 percent over three years. The company offered a four-year deal that included a wage freeze for one year, 2 percent rises in the second and third years and 2.5 percent in the fourth.

AMWU Print Assistant State Secretary Tony Piccolo said there was “still some work to be done on a few outstanding items,” but expected that they would be settled in the coming days.

Negotiations over wage increases will continue this week at the Australian Paper facility in Preston, after several Fair Work Commission hearings over recent weeks failed to reach a settlement.

“All of these workers stood together, united behind a common goal and they won,” said Piccolo. “Eight weeks is a long time on strike, but these workers were committed to ensuring they received a fair deal in the EBA.  There was never any question of settling for anything less.

 “It shouldn’t have to come to this for workers to get a fair pay rise when the economy is screaming out for wage growth. It’s a great testament to the leadership, organization and discipline of the union delegates Margaret and Martin, that these workers stood strong for so many weeks.

“The company obviously saw that these workers were not going to accept an unfair deal and we’re pleased that they’ve finally came to the table to negotiate a fair agreement,” said Piccolo.

 “We’re confident the company has listened and will do the right thing by the workers who are looking forward to getting their agreement finalized and getting back to work.”

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