This report is of an NUW enterprise bargaining dispute where the employer responded to a union protected action ban after negotiations failed with an indefinite lockout. Workers responded by occupying their canteen.
The dispute continues. Now, resolved with the company accepting the following. “We want to get back to work! We’re calling on IFF’s Asia Pacific Regional Operations Manager, Arjan Koudijs to meet with Australian employees and end this lockout.”
Support the workers. Visit the site. Sign this petition.
Update saturday: negotiations continue as workers leave canteen.
Our #occupydandenong members are hosting a very exciting event this weekend and YOU are invited.
Please come to our #occupydandenong family and community BBQ this Saturday 31st January 12.30pm onwards at IFF in Dandenong South.
Hundreds came, with strong speeches from members on strike, from union leaders in solidarity and singing and photos and food. Update: Discussions between the NUW and the o/s company reps were held in the FWA. Report that members agreed to the negotiated outcomes with a successful action. Congratulations.
‘A great win! IFF in Dandenong had hired an extremely aggressive HR person who told them that they had stock piled enough product to lock them out for a month and refused to negotiate, instead threatening to bring in scab labour. National Union of Workers members took the opportunity to occupy the canteen for four nights before being threatened with riot police on Friday. They left peacefully and held a family event the next day supported by a good number of friends, family, activists and fellow union members. Many of them had already been with the company for 15 years, but they knew they had to up the ante to have any hope of a better deal. Management in Malaysia were successfully petitioned into arbitration and now they have signed off on a better agreement. Let’s hope their example carries forward, showing what can be done when we stick together.’ One FB report – details not confirmed.
Earlier: This news report: Social media campaign to #OccupyDandenong gathers steam with IFF workers locked in pay dispute
Radio 3CR report on the lock-out tomorrow Saturday morning 8am by Marcus Harrington and Chris White.http://www.3cr.org.au
Working Life Story. “WHAT do you do when your employer threatens to lock you out of your workplace? Why, you lock yourself in, of course.
Story Red Flag http://redflag.org.au/article/picket-line
Story New Matilda: “It’s not an easy situation,” union delegate Ingles said, “but we’re not rolling over to a gutting of pay and conditions”.
Power in the union
The employer lock-out is not often used. Qantas lock-out and MUA lock-out are major exceptions.So what happened here?
Locked-out workers stage sit-in on tuesday, January 27, 2015, 4:06pm from WorkPlace Express
Workers at a Victorian food flavouring plant today occupied their lunchroom after being served with lockout notices during a bargaining dispute.
The NUW says its 60 members gave notice of a protected industrial action at International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF) in the form of a ban on paperwork, which was due to start this morning.
But the union says the company served the workers with indefinite lockout notices when they arrived at work at about 6am, prompting them to stage a sit-in.
NUW organiser Dominic Melling said management offered his members a below-inflation pay rise of 55 cents an hour, which equates to an annual increase of between 1.5% and 2%, depending on the base pay rates of individual workers.
He said the company also wants the workers to trade-off an existing daily 10-minute break and a provision to be paid for accrued personal leave when they leave the company.
“We want a fair deal,” Melling told Workplace Express. “We’re trying to cooperate with everyone and we’re doing everything peacefully, to try and get a resolution as quickly as possible.”
A delegate, Arthur Ingles, said the workers have resolved to continue the sit-in until IFF management agrees to “meaningful” negotiations. “In the past five months that hasn’t happened,” he said.
The company was unavailable for comment and has a recorded message on the switchboard at its plant at Dandenong in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs.
The IFF plant is understood to supply a range of major Australia food manufacturers.
The company is listed on the New York Stock exchange and has about 6000 employees in 31 countries.
Local IFF management has made a s240 application which will heard urgently at 5.30pm today before Deputy President John Kovacic in Melbourne.
The NUW is publicising the dispute through digital media, using the Twitter handle #occupydandenong and on Facebook.
The union used similar tactics during a sit-in a Smith’s Crisps plant in Brisbane in December (see Related Article and a photo taken today of Smith’s workers).
Sit-in continues after FWC intervention Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 4:05pm
A worker sit-in is continuing at a Victorian food flavouring plant after late-night talks before the Fair Work Commission failed to break a deadlock.
Deputy President John Kovacic chaired a five-hour conference last night after US-owned International Flavours & Fragrances Inc made a s240 application for the Commission to deal with the bargaining dispute.
The deputy president is understood to have made recommendations to both IFF and the NUW. Talks before before the Commission are scheduled to resume at 8am wednesday tomorrow.
The NUW says the company locked out about 60 workers yesterday morning after they were due to begin protected industrial action in the form of a ban on paperwork.
About 50 workers have since occupied the plant’s lunch room as they use digital and traditional media to argue their case for an improved offer from their employer in enterprise negotiations.
The union says IFF has offered a pay rise of 55 cents an hour, which equates to an annual increase of between 1.5% and 2%, while seeking trades-offs that include removing a daily 10-minute break and the right to have accrued personal leave paid out when they leave the company.
IFF said in a statement that it has been working in good faith to find a resolution that is “fair to all” during “extended contract negotiations”.
“As with all of our sites globally, we are committed to market-relevant compensation for all our employees,” it said.
The company argued that that ban on paperwork would have “negatively impacted our ability to maintain quality control over the products we manufacture. ”
“As our products are consumed by families everywhere, we take the quality and safety of everything we make very seriously.”
“Therefore, we had no choice but to lock out the workers who would be manufacturing our products without the benefit of quality control processes. Because of contingency plans put in place, there has been no disruption to our customers.
“Subsequent to the lock-out, a number of Union Officers and employees are occupying the site, contravening regulations. They are free to leave the facility and have access to basic amenities. ”
IFF said it had engaged with the Commission to act as a “third-party conciliator” and would continue to do so in coming days.’
The Corporates fight against the working class in various ways.
Not often used is the corporate lock-out. The employers’ weapon of ‘last resort’ in enterprise bargaining in response to the lawful industrial action.
Lockout refers to a temporary or here permanent employer work stoppage or denial of employment during an enterprising bargaining dispute initiated by the management of a company. During lockout, the workers are barred entry to the workplace by the employer, except when they decide to occupy.
Here in Melbourne NUW members responded to the employer announcing an indefinite lock-out by occupying their canteen.
See FB photos/stories
Unions argue that the lock-out provision in the “Fair” Work Act ought to be repealed. The more powerful employer should not have the right to lock-out in enterprise bargaining.
Unions are campaigning for the repeal of all the limitations and penalties on industrial action.
I argue the lock-out has to go.
The Workchoices Restoration or “Unfinished Business”: The Qantas lockout and power at work under the Fair Work Act by Don Sutherland – November, 2011
MUA locked-out and Patricks sacking its workforce with Howard/Reith.
MUA here to stay survives with mass peaceful assemblies and a class response in solidarity.
Dave Kerin discusses organising solidarity with the community assembly.
Other lock-outs and solidarity.
New Zealand Dairy Workers Union lockout.http://chriswhiteonline.org/2009/10/lockout-nz/
Schweppes lock-out. As argued on this blog, here is another reason why the lawful lock-out ought to be denied to the more powerfull employer. Workers and their unions have such a limited right to strike that our so-called “fair” bargaining system is weak.
With protected action by workers in collective bargaining, here resisting Schweppes’ attack to reduce existing conditions, the employer has to be put in a position to respond with an agreement with its workforce and not be allowed the lawful lock-out.