Fletcher Workers in Fight For Their Rights

Monday 20th March 2017

Workers at Fletcher Insulation in Dandenong have been on strike for more than a month after being offered an Enterprise Agreement (EA) which would slash conditions, raise serious safety concerns and offer no pay rises for the next four years.

Australian Workers’ Union Victorian Secretary Ben Davis said the offer was outrageous in the face of record productivity levels from the long-serving workforce and was indicative of a deeper agenda.

“Production was up 20% in the last quarter of last year, and yet only weeks later these workers are told they are not worth a pay rise for four years, and the conditions under which they have worked for so long will be done away with,” Mr Davis said.

“It is unfair, it is illogical and it is impossible not to arrive at the conclusion this is an ideological battle.”

Many of the 90 workers have been employed at the same site for more than 30 years, dating back to the days when it was ACI Glass. In the years since it was taken over by New Zealand-based Fletcher, it was business as usual until the latest EA negotiations.

“The Fletcher wish list includes increasing working hours from the glass industry standard of 35 hours a week, and completely removing minimum manning levels from the agreement, which is a serious safety issue,” Mr Davis said.

“There are other matters such as the unlimited use of casual workers, which raises concerns about job security, and drastically reduced provisions in the event of redundancy.

“This is an enterprise which has been successful because of the skill and commitment of workers who are now under attack by their employer.  They had no alternative but to take a stand in the face of this attack on their rights and conditions.”

The AWU had continued to attempt to negotiate in good faith on the issues but had met a brick wall.

“Negotiations are about give and take, but in this case Fletcher is only interesting in taking,” he said.