Email workers protest
Hundreds of workers at whitegoods manufacturer Email's plant in Orange, north-west of Sydney, were joined by thousands of other trade unionists and members of the community when they downed tools to protest at the possible break-up of the company. Two steel giants, Smorgens and BHP, have been locked in a bidding war for Email shares in a strategic move to dominate the Australian steel distribution market. Email has since announced it is cutting the size of its workforce by 10 percent. This will include the contracting out of maintenance, production support and tool making. But this corporate chess game being played out by these multinationals could end up costing thousands of Australian jobs in regional NSW. "This is the ugly face of the global market place", said State Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU), Paul Bastian. "The workers at Email and their families are irrelevant to these corporate cowboys. Their sole interest is market share." The AMWU, which is the major union representing Email workers, participated in a march and rally at which trade unionists from around NSW joined with the local workers and community members to protest at the effect on their community of an Email closure. "We are making our position very clear right from the start", said Mr Bastian, "The workers and their families, as well as the businesses that make up the Orange community, have the right to a say in their future. We are demanding a voice." The union has written to Email management demanding guarantees on long-term job security for its members in Orange through a commitment to ongoing manufacturing at the Email plant. "We will accept nothing less than the maintenance of current standards of wages and conditions and the protection of our members' accrued entitlements", Mr Bastian stressed. Workers at the Email plant are believed to have more than $40 million in accrued entitlements and liabilities and the AMWU has pledged to protect both the jobs and the entitlements of its members. The possible break up of the Orange plant would also affect Email employees at its Sydney operations in Botany and Waterloo and in Melbourne, where Email has other smaller sites. "We already know that Email Orange has sourced components in China for part of its operations", Mr Bastian noted.
* * *Acknowledgments: The Manufacturing Worker