Carton finishers at a Melbourne packaging company could soon begin protected industrial action to defend sick leave entitlements, according to the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU).
Workers at Colorpak’s Mt Waverly site have historically been paid out for sick leave upon redundancy. Negotiations have apparently broken down on a new collective agreement over the issue of sick leave entitlements.
“Colorpak would like to introduce a grandfather clause for current workers and not pay sick leave entitlements to new employees,” said AMWU’s Print Division organiser Tony Piccolo.
Piccolo claimed the move is a tactic to eventually take the entitlement away from all employees. He said the workers won sick leave entitlements only recently and “they are very reluctant to now give [them] away”.
AMWU delegate John Zeiba said, “We don’t want a situation where some workers are on better conditions than others. And we’re willing to take management head on.”
The AMWU said Colorpak increased prices for its folding carton products in 2011 to increase returns.
“We’ve been told the company are in it for the long haul. Well, that’s all well and good but while you’re raising prices, you also want to take something away from workers. We’re not going to cop it,” said Zeiba.
According to ProPrint.com.au, Colorpak posted a loss of $2.2 million in 2011, despite a half-yearly gross profit of $8.6 million after acquiring Carter Holt Harvey. The company said it was due to $10 million in one-off costs to improve assets. Thirty-three jobs were cut in the restructuring process.