The Guardian June 28, 2000


Metal unions break through

Union campaigns in the manufacturing and building industries in Victoria 
have made significant gains. The state branch of the Metal Trades 
Federation of Unions last week won agreement from employers to negotiate on 
a wide range of matters. 

Six hundred shop stewards voted to accept a proposal negotiated with 23 
major employers. The negotiations will form the basis for Campaign 2000, 
any agreement becoming the model for the state's entire manufacturing 
sector. 

The settlement includes a 15 percent pay increase over three years, 
restrictions on the use of casual and contract workers, an extra rostered 
day off per year and agreement from employers to negotiate around a 35 hour 
week.

In addition, long service leave is to begin after 10 years instead of 15 
years, with workers having pro-rata access to it after seven years of 
employment.

Casual workers employed for three months must now be made permanent while 
contractors will also have to sign an agreement with the union.

The employer body, the Australian Industry Group, has applied to the 
Australian Industrial Relations Commission to reject the 15 percent pay 
claim, a move Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union State Secretary, 
Craig Johnston, dismissed as a political stunt.

"The settlement delivers  to March 31, 2003  a 15 percent package made 
up of increased leisure time, income protection and wages", said Mr 
Johnston. "It also delivers regulations on casuals and contracting out, 
union rights and over-award protection and a number of other benefits."

The agreement also "is to provide stability and certainty for the next 
three years for the companies that have signed on". Mr Johnston said the 
unions were looking forward to reaching agreement under the auspices of the 
Commission. "The question remains, will the Australian Industry Group 
support the process by agreeing to negotiate.?"

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