AWA push 'unrelenting', say warehouse workers

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AWA push 'unrelenting', say warehouse workers

Striking workers at a warehouse in Sydney's South West say they are under 'unrelenting' pressure to sign AWAs.

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Striking workers at a warehouse in Sydney's South West say they are under 'unrelenting' pressure to sign AWAs.

The workers recently voted in support of a collective agreement, but the company has refused to negotiate one.

National Union of Workers (NUW) representative, Mark Ptolemy, said in a statement that the AWA is inferior to their current collective agreement because it cuts penalty loadings and overtime.

Sign or else

Ptolemy said that although industrial action is now entering its second week at the Esselte Australia warehouse at Minto, workers are still being told that they have no choice - they have to sign the AWA or else.

He said this is the second time the management of Esselte have tried to force workers onto AWAs. In June 2006 the company offered workers individual contracts, which were rejected by the workers.

Ptolemy said the company then made accusations to the Office Of Workplace Services (OWS) claiming the NUW tried to 'coerce' workers not to sign the AWAs. A subsequent investigation cleared the union of any such allegations. 

Worse off

'What this company can't seem to get through their thick skulls is that these workers do not want to be placed on AWAs,' he said. 'The workers can count. They know they will be worse off under these individual deals.

'Besides the lack of any financial benefit for the workers, they have made a democratic choice not to accept individual contracts because they simply do not believe in non-collective contracts. However, the company refuses to respect their choice.'

'Under John Howard's industrial relations regime, companies think they can do whatever they want', Ptolemy said.

Ignored by OWS

He said workers at Esselte are also angry that OWS representatives visited the site to inspect the picket line and only spoke with the company, ignoring the workers.

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