The Guardian May 16, 2001


Support the boycott of Arnotts products

Around 100 workers from Arnotts took their protest against the closure 
of the Melbourne plant and the loss of 600 jobs to the special Federation 
anniversary joint sitting of Parliament on May 9. Wearing T-shirts with 
"Selloutts" instead of the Arnotts logo, the protestors booed officials who 
were gathering at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne. The Arnotts 
workforce has unanimously endorsed a community campaign which includes the 
call for a boycott of Arnotts' products.

The Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union (LHMU), which 
represents 400 of the 600 workers, has called on the State and Federal 
Governments to intervene to either keep Arnotts in Victoria or to ensure 
another biscuit manufacturer buys the plant.

It is believed that Arnotts plans to sell off the plant machinery and 
equipment and sell the land, throwing 600 Victorians out of work.

LHMU Victorian Assistant Secretary Terry Breheny said that Victorians felt 
very strongly about the closure of Arnotts.

"Choosing not to buy Arnotts products will send a strong message to the 
company", said Mr Breheny. "There was no good reason to pull out of 
Victoria and place in jeopardy the livelihoods of 600 Victorians and their 
families."

Union delegates from other manufacturing areas in Victoria have also 
strongly endorsed the campaign. A community rally will be held on May 20.
Mr Breheny said the call for a boycott was meant to send a strong message 
to governments and to overseas investors that the community would not 
tolerate callous and irresponsible corporate behaviour.

"I ask Victorians to choose another product when buying their biscuits in 
the supermarkets. Tell Arnotts how you feel about them.

"I also ask the Victorian and Federal Governments to become more involved 
in this issue and to do all that is possible to save the jobs of these 
workers.

"We need a stronger industry policy for manufacturing in this state. Too 
many jobs are being lost. People want to know what the politicians are 
doing about it", said Mr Breheny.

The union has had a break-through with the company now agreeing to pay 
redundancies to the 180 workers who are casuals and work through labour 
hire firms.

The payment will be based on the number of hours they worked each week. 
Arnotts has also agreed to provide workers with six weeks' notice of the 
actual closure and to not force workers to take annual leave before their 
redundancy.

Mr Breheny said that while the aim was to stop Arnotts quitting Victoria, 
this was a major concession by the company to the union-led campaign.

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