The Guardian July 4, 2001


Bradken workers struggle for entitlements

After eight weeks of negotiations and 20 meetings, Australian 
Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) members are in a deadlock with Bradken 
(Ipswich) management over a new enterprise agreement.

Up until now, members have been defending a number of hard won conditions 
that the company wants back. These include a $1 per hour site allowance and 
meal breaks, which are currently paid at penalty rates. On June 21, mass 
meetings voted to implement an industrial campaign consisting of overtime 
bans and mass meetings every second hour. The bans were to stay in place 
until June 26 at which time the union was to have further discussions.

The key demands that members are fighting for are:

1. One per cent of the settlement pack to be paid into Manusafe to protect 
severance pay and other entitlements.

2. A fair and reasonable wages outcome to maintain workers' living 
standards.

3. The retention of all existing working conditions.

AMWU members across the country are fighting to introduce a workers' 
entitlements protection scheme called Manusafe. A number of other unions 
are now considering either support for Manusafe or the introduction of a 
similar scheme in their own industries.

The essence of Manusafe is that it requires and enables employers to place 
workers' long service leave and other entitlements into an industry 
governed trust fund as the entitlements accrue, instead of using these 
entitlements as an interest free loan to run their businesses without the 
permission of workers. Many workers in Australia have been losing their 
entitlements when companies have become bankrupt, when ownership has been 
transferred or as a result of ownership restructuring.

The Australian Industry Group  the bosses' organisation  is leading a 
mischievous campaign of disinformation against Manusafe. At an urgent 
meeting called by Bradken management it was quite clear to the AMWU that 
the company's position on Manusafe was based on the political line of the 
Australian Industry Group (AIG).

Bradken workers in Ipswich are determined to win this claim as a part of 
the current round of enterprise bargaining.

Members overwhelmingly rejected the company's current position. The Union 
and delegates were directed to entered into further discussion with the 
company to achieve a packaged outcome with one per cent being paid into 
Manusafe. Following rejection of the company's position, bans and 
limitations were introduced.

Messages of solidarity and support for the Bradken workers' struggle for 
Manusafe can be emailed to: Bradken AMWU members dsfyffe@bigpond.comGlenn 
Thompson (AMWU National Organiser) gthompson19@hotmail.com

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