The Guardian March 14, 2001

"Been screwed we have"

by Warren Smith

"Been screwed we have" says a placard hung on the front wall of Grenadier 
Coatings. A group of about 20 disenfranchised workers block the front 
entrance determined to maintain a 24-hour picket of a company that has 
robbed them. They are members of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of 
Australia (TCFUA) and have rostered themselves on the picket around the 

Grenadier Coatings is a company that coats fabrics and vertical blinds. On 
Monday March 5 the administrators were called in to Grenadier Coatings to 
sell the company.

By Wednesday the administrators had called in the receivers. On the 
Thursday the 61-strong workforce were summoned to a meeting and they were 
all told that they were to be terminated.

Some of the workers had up to 12 years of loyal service to this 
unscrupulous employer, only to be treated like dirt when it suited the 

Not only having to suffer the indignation of being thrown onto an ever 
increasing unemployment scrapheap, they were dealt a double blow and 
informed that they would not receive any of their entitlements.

The company owes the workers in excess of $660,000. The workers are again 
last on the list.

The workers are asking, "What went wrong?".

There were no previous indications that this would happen to them. Even 
more suspicious is the fact that this dirty little company has offered 
casual work to anyone who crosses the picket line  and on a higher rate 
of pay!

No one has taken up their offer, but it begs the question, are the sackings 
just a ploy to eradicate the union from the site? If there is work, why 
wasn't the original, permanent workforce maintained to perform it?

The picket line is receiving general support from the trade union movement.

Wharfies from Patrick's at Port Botany have done a whip around and donated 
money and the MUA is organising a barbecue for the picket.

Both stevedoring terminals at Botany and workers from the lines and tugs 
are organising to get workers to the picket and to show their support.

Radical action needs to be taken by the union movement over this question 
of entitlements.

It is entirely unacceptable for company's day-in and day-out to be robbing 
workers of what is rightfully theirs.

Laws need to be put in place that secure the entitlements of workers away 
from the greedy hands of the bosses who, without concern, steal what is not 

The workers at Grenadier Coatings say:

"We want our money. Pay us now. It is our entitlement."

The Communist Party supports them and urges the whole labour movement to 
take up this question of unscrupulous employers robbing the workers of 
entitlements again and again and again.

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