Striking workers have thrown Victorian paper supply into chaos by shutting down Spicers’ Melbourne office and warehouse after wage negotiations broke down.
Local printers could be left short of paper, with trucking and warehouse workers assembling full-scale picket lines outside both the merchant’s Dandenong sites early this morning.
Spicers is Australia’s biggest paper merchant. The strike action is limited to Victoria as staff at other Spicers distribution centres around the country are on separate wage agreements.
Banner-waving workers had been completely blocking both delivery and employee access but National Union of Workers lead organiser Chris Calvert says some office staff have just been allowed in.
[Related: The ups and downs of Paperlinx]
Calls to the national office have been diverted to Sydney and no senior managers answered or returned calls from ProPrint inquiring about the situation.
Printers ProPrint spoke to say sales reps told them to get any orders in before the end of last week and say the strike is expected to last at least all of this week.
Calvert says the union is about to meet with management to resolve the broken contract negotiations, and says the strike was triggered by an unsatisfactory offer on Friday.
He says the three-year offer is only a two per cent annual wage increase, introduces significant caps on redundancy payouts, and also caps sick leave entitlements on termination.
“Spicers gave us an offer earlier with the same wage rates, but compromised on the redundancy conditions, then at the last moment presented one that was inferior,” he says.
Calvert says the union will not be backing down from its position.
“We will continue the strike as long as it takes to get an offer from management our members will vote to accept,” he says.
“We are prepared to negotiate but Spicers management also has to be prepared to do that.”
The strike comes at a bad time for Spicers as parent company Paperlinx just lost almost $400m last financial year following the collapse or sale of its European and North American operations.
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