The Guardian May 31, 2000


Printing workers solid

Printing union (AMWU) workers at SALMAT in Chester Hill, Sydney, started 
an indefinite strike on May 28 over their enterprise agreement. A picket, 
endorsed by the NSW Labor Council and workers in NSW and Victoria has been 
established. The workers are calling on all unionists, particularly in the 
printing, postal and transport industries, to support their struggle, which 
is about getting a fair deal from a hard and ruthless boss.

Salmat has built its business by paying miserable wages and undermining 
workers' award conditions. It is the biggest mailing house in Australia, 
handling 25 per cent of all mail in the country and with a turn over of 
$250 million.

Salmat wants to force workers onto 12-hour shifts and rob them of public 
holiday and shift penalty rates.

Workers have rejected the long shifts on health and family grounds. They 
are demanding an 8 per cent pay rise and to keep their award conditions and 
union rights. Members have already had to fight the company for union 
representation at EBA meetings.

Threats and intimidation from management have not undermined the strike and 
are not getting the work out. Salmat is using a labour hire company called 
Able Personnel to hire scabs. This firm is not listed in the phone book or 
on the internet.

The mailout of National Australia and St George Banks and Optus phone bills 
may be seriously held up. Customers should contact these institutions and 
demand extra time to make payments or other responses because of mail 
delays.

It is also possible that vital Centrelink mailouts may be held up. People 
who have to respond to Pension, Youth Allowance and Dole forms should 
ensure that they have adequate time to do so and that they are not 
disadvantaged.

A statement issued by the Printing Division of the AMWU says that Salmat 
workers are determined to stick to their guns and are demanding their 
rights be maintained. With continued unity and solidarity they should win. 
Its time to start turning the tables on Salmat and all bosses who try to 
cut worker's hard won working conditions, says the statement. 

To help the picket, contact Matthew Lowe (organiser) 0417 483 740.

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