The Guardian June 14, 2000

Victory at Alcoa

Four hundred AMWU members working at Alcoa's aluminium refineries in WA 
have won a new enterprise agreement after a ten-week dispute which included 
five weeks of being locked out by employers. The final agreement fits into 
the Campaign 2000/2001 strategy and includes a provision for the 
implementation of national outcomes from that campaign.

The dispute centred on the renewal of six enterprise agreements with 
contractors Western Construction, United Construction, Total Corrosion 
Control, Amec Services, Bains Harding Industries and ABB.

AMWU organiser Mark Golesworthy said that after the agreements expired at 
the beginning of March all members of the various sites were visited and a 
common log of claims agreed on.

The employers also agreed between themselves to act collectively and be 
represented by the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It became clear early in discussions that the parties were miles apart and 
a dispute would be unavoidable.

The employers offered 7.5 per cent over three years and wanted an agreement 
that was inferior to the previous agreements on key conditions such as 
redundancy and income protection insurance, which could have cost sick 
workers up to $300-$400 a week.

The union's wage claim was for 10 percent over 16 months.

A mass meeting resolved to withdraw its labour indefinitely in response to 
the employers' attitude. After one week the employers notified the union 
and its members that all the workers were locked out.

After five weeks the lockout collapsed due to continued pressure by members 
in the form of flying pickets and protests outside all Alcoa sites, 
including its head office, the CCI offices and various contractor sites.

The bosses offered a return to work based on the original agreement but 
with more money. The members' reply was "Get Stuffed" and the strike 

In the ninth week intense negotiations between the union and employers 
began which resulted in an agreement which includes:

* a seven percent wage increase in seven months;
* adherence to the union's policy on common expiry date of June 2001;
* an increase in severance pay;
* no loss of income protection;
* union training leave;
* quarterly paid union meetings;
* career path benefits for riggers/scaffolders;
* last on, first off;
* paid attendance when required to attend the IRC.

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