The Guardian June 28, 2000

Print workers win at SALMAT

by Andrew Jackson

Printing union (AMWU) workers have claimed victory after the successful 
outcome of their dispute at SALMAT. Salmat, located at Chester Hill in 
western Sydney, is the largest mailing house in Australia. It handles over 
25 per cent of Australia's bulk mail and has a turnover of over $250 
million a year.

Management at Salmat had gone to the enterprise bargaining table wanting to 
substantially strip back the already miserable conditions of the print 
workers. They planned to introduce mandatory 12 hour shifts and rob workers 
of public holiday and shift penalty rates.

The workers rejected the long shifts on health and family grounds. They 
demanded an 8 per cent pay rise and the retention of all their award 
conditions and union rights. At the outset Salmat refused even to allow the 
workers to have union representation at the negotiations, but an initial 24 
hour strike forced Salmat to back down and negotiate with the AMWU.

During the 11 days of picket action, Salmat attempted to maintain 
production with the use of scab labour from a hire company called Able 
Personnel. However the picket held strong, and Salmat suffered major 
disruptions to its processing work, affecting companies such as the 
National and St George banks, Optus and Centrelink. 

At the conclusion of the negotiations workers had won:

* No mandatory 12 hour shifts
* 30 per cent loading for weekend day shifts
* 50 per cent loading for weekend night shifts
* Retention of public holiday loadings
* Pay increases of between 4-6 per cent for the next 12 months.

State Secretary of the Printing Division Basil King praised organiser 
Matthew Lowe for his efforts during the negotiations and in the workplace. 
"He has more than doubled Union membership at Salmat to about 90 per cent 
of the workforce. This was the first big test of their new strength and 
they've come through really well." 

Matthew Lowe said he was "very satisfied with the win."

Back to index page