Alcoa workers take strike to WA Parliament

Stuart HortonSound Telegraph
Australian Workers' Union members at Soliatary Park today.
Camera IconAustralian Workers' Union members at Soliatary Park today. Credit: AWU/Facebook

Australian Workers’ Union WA members took their strike to Parliament House today and declared ‘the ball is in Alcoa’s court’ to resolve industrial action over a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.

About 1200 striking Alcoa workers convened at Solidarity Park opposite Parliament House, where numerous WA Labor MPs - including Premier Mark McGowan, Kwinana MLA Roger Cook and Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby - appeared and spoke in a show of support to union members.

Alcoa AWU WA members have been on strike for more than two weeks after failing to agree terms on a new EBA despite 20 months of negotiations with the company.

An Alcoa spokeswoman today said AWU WA’s claims that Alcoa was seeking to casualise the workforce were “simply untrue” and an EBA would be presented to members to vote on between August 28 and September 6.

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“The union is seeking an absolute guarantee that employees can never be made redundant involuntarily,” she said.

“We have invited employees who are AWU members to vote on a generous EBA that provides income growth on top of their already very competitive pay and conditions next week, which makes the union’s continued industrial action disappointing and surprising.

“Alcoa operates in a competitive global market and we need to be able to manage the business according to market conditions, without unreasonable restrictions. This includes having the ability to employ the right number of people to run our operations safely and efficiently.

“The EBA (to be presented for a vote) addresses job security with a range of measures including a commitment to call for voluntary redundancies first, in the event changes to the workforce are required. It also includes a generous redundancy package well above National Employment Standards.

“(The strike) is unnecessarily impacting employees through lost earnings before they have had a chance to vote.”

However, AWU WA Branch president Andy Hacking said the appearance of State Labor parliamentarians today had strengthened the resolve of its members after receiving “sensational” feedback.

“Everything I’ve heard back indicates the politicians were impressed by our organisation and resolve... it’s all been thumbs up,” he said.

AWU National Vice President and WA Assistant Branch secretary Brad Gandy described today’s meeting as “going very well” and while “more a Federal than State issue”, AWU WA was appreciative of WA Labor members getting behind their cause.

“We now hope the company realises what the fix (to the strike) is and fixes it so we can convene our members to vote on it,” he said.

While Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston made a presentation and Forrestfield MLA Stephen Price spoke of his time as an Alcoa employee, others, including Mr McGowan, did not speak.

“Just to have members of the Upper and Lower houses there, whether they spoke or not, was well received (by those in attendance),” Mr Gandy said.

“Hopefully (Alcoa) see an opportunity to reach out and make a deal now. The ball’s in their court.”

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