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Issue # 1404      25 March 2009

Bone pointed at good unionists

A major aluminium products company in Western Sydney is trying to silence the union voice in their workplace, by sacking the Australian Workers Union (AWU) delegate, and about half its workforce.

“They’ve gone out and pointed the bone at their most active union members this morning – sacking nearly half their workforce without any consultation,” Russ Collison, AWU NSW secretary, said.

The Smithfield based company, G James Extrusion, is a near century-old Australian company producing glass and aluminium products. G James Extrusion workers have had a union voice for most of its long history.

“It is clearly stated in our agreements that before they do anything like this they would consult with individuals in the workforce, and they would talk to the union representing them,” said Mr Collison.

“They could have sat down with us to look at alternative options to the sacking of these 30 workers. Maybe some workers would have been prepared to volunteer for redundancies. Maybe we could have discussed a shorter working week so that we can keep people employed.”

They called all the workers from the afternoon and night shift in at 6am last week, they produced a target list, and then produced a generic letter.

The company filled in the top of this generic letter with the worker’s name. The boss signed at the bottom – then told those terminated workers, in front of their colleagues, that they would no longer have a job as of the following Friday (March 20).

“These 30 workers are longstanding and valued people,” noted Russ Collison. “They should have been treated with respect. Many are people with families depending on them. Many are good unionists; I am sure that was a factor in their targeting of these workers.

“They are using the economic crisis to get rid of workers they hate. Well we’re not going to tolerate this reprehensible company behaviour.

“We have a legal agreement about process and we’re going to make sure the company sticks by the agreement,” Russ Collison said.

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