- by Alexander Vos
- The Guardian
- Issue #1969
On 25th June, United Workers Union (UWU) members at the General Mills (GM) factory in Rooty Hills, Sydney, returned to work after three weeks of strike action. Workers originally went on strike in response to attempts by GM’s management to lock in a three-year contract with a below five per cent pay increase and massive reductions to conditions. Workers have endorsed a deal that will see all conditions maintained, a wage increase of almost nine per cent over three years back paid to 11th February, a $1500 bonus, and protection for all labour-hire casuals and contractors who participated in the strike.
This deal comes after sustained pressure by the workers at GM and the broader union movement. Throughout the dispute, the UWU organised numerous community pickets at the site and a national day of action that saw solidarity pouring in from the broader UWU. By the end of the dispute, the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) truck drivers refused to deliver stock to the factory. Finally, the union members reported that due to maintenance workers participating in the strike, the production lines were left inoperable and that products were expiring before being able to leave the factory. On an international level, the SEIU Healthcare Union in Minnesota, USA, staged protests outside General Mills corporate offices. The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco, and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) affiliates from the United States, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and across the entire IUF Asia Pacific Region also stood in solidarity with the GM workers, staging protests globally in support of GM workers in Australia. IUF General Secretary Sue Longley welcomed news of the win saying, “solidarity has no borders. When we fight together, we win together. The IUF congratulates UWU and its members at General Mills on their win at Rooty Hill.”
The outcome of this strike should show workers that we can win against the forces of capitalism if we stand united. But it also shows the immense barriers in place for workers to win even basic economic outcomes, much less full political control of the economy. Throughout this dispute, workers and its union were hindered by anti-strike laws, which allowed GM management to utilise NSW Police as strikebreakers.
The Communist Party of Australia stands in opposition to these laws and all who uphold them. The Party believes that workers must break these laws to win, but also campaign to win the right to strike in all its forms.
The Communist Party of Australia congratulates the GM workers and the UWU on their win and calls on workers to not stop fighting and organise within their respective unions to combat anti-strike laws and push for the right to strike.