Australian Paper workers claim strike win

The nine week strike at the country’s biggest envelope manufacturing plant is over, with Australian Paper workers in Preston claiming success in their battle against changes to the EBA and for a higher wage rise.

Under the deal which will see the 90 strikers go back to work today RDOs for employees will not be cut down, while attempts to grandfather pay rises for longer-serving workers for newer staff to catch up have also been dropped.

The workers had also requested a 2.5 per cent pay rise year-on-year, while the company offered 6.5 per cent over four years, the two sides are still negotiating on this.

Australian Paper is the country’s biggest envelope manufacturing outfit, producing some two billion items a year. The union claimed the companyt was having to import envelopes to meet demand while the strike progressed.

A company spokesperson says, “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 picket had been ongoing from mid-January, lasting throughout February, with a successful outcome for the striking workers reached yesterday. AMWU organiser Dean Griffiths had quoted warehouse workers still working inside the envelope manufacturer as saying supplies were running low.

AMWU Print Assistant State Secretary Tony Piccolo, print assistant state secretary, AMWU attributes the win to strength and solidarity built between the members.

“All of these workers stood together, united behind a common goal and they won. 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 should not 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.

“We are 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.”

Australian Paper owner Nippon Paper Group recorded a profit of ¥5.9bn ($71m) in its latest financial results, from a prior corresponding period loss of  -¥6.2bn (-$75m).

While the picket was ongoing, Griffiths said,“From my understanding, they are bringing envelopes in from Malaysia, the warehouse is nearly dry, and instead of going through the warehouse the orders are going straight to the customer.”

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