Australian Paper calls for FWC to mediate

Australian Paper workers at the Preston envelope manufacturing plant are in their second week of protesting a proposed EBA, as the company is now asking the Fair Work Commission to mediate negotiations.

The AMWU claims the major envelope supplier, which is the country’s largest envelope manufacturer, is short on its stock as a result.

Candida, the country’s second largest envelope producers recently closed its Sydney plant to consolidate all manufacturing in Adelaide. Third biggest envelope manufacturer Express Envelopes says it has not yet seen an upswing in demand as a result of the strike.

Of the request for FWC intervention Dean Griffiths, AMWU organiser says, “The company has put in for a Section 11 with the Fair Work Commission, they are looking to dissolve the dispute and have a mediation between the two parties. We are just waiting for the commission to set a date and a time so we can kick off negotiations.

[Related: Australia Paper demands workers return]

“The company has put out a letter to everyone on the picket line saying that they are welcome to return and they are now seeking a mediation from the Fair Work Commission. With their statements to the press they are saying they are still negotiating, but that is not true, we have not heard from them.

 “I have spoken to the guys in the warehouse through their union and they have said there is no stock at all. They have had to go to work for another company for the moment to keep busy. There are 11 different envelopes they do for Officeworks and I have been told by the warehouse guys that they are out.”

The dispute has come about after nine months of failed negotiations for a new EBA. Workers have asked for a 2.5 per cent annual pay rise for three years and no loss of RDOs, and are against a reclassification of the pay structure which they claim will freeze pay increases for long time staff until newer employees’ wages catch up. The company has offered a total 6.5 per cent pay rise over four years and wants to reduce the current 16 RDOs to 12.

Griffiths says, “The workers are adamant, they are not going back unless their conditions are met.

“Andrew Giles, a local MP has visited. People from the local community have supported us, they have given the protestors water and hot cross buns. We are also seeing support from local businesses. The local butcher has given me a discount when I have bought meat for us. We have also been getting support from local print shops, they have been passing the hat around and getting collections. Aurora and Amcor have done it. The posties as well, the Australia Post union have been collecting donations. Other unions have come down and joined in the protest, the nurses and others, so many have visited, I cannot remember them all.”

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