"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 clock. 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 company. 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 theirs. 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.