The two-week long strike at the Coles/Toll warehouse and distribution centre ended on Monday with both Coles/Toll and the NUW declaring victory. Thus:
In the end, the striking workers got most of what they had asked for.
Their union argued it was a win for workers, while Toll said tonight that it was little more than a re-working of the cash offer it put on the table before the strike began.
Toll’s Andrew Ethell said the value of what Toll had been offering its workforce through the two-week-long battle had not changed. “It remains an effective four per cent annual wage rise over three years,” he said.
The negotiated settlement had been achieved by shuffling the structure of how wages and conditions were allocated, he said, “effectively reducing some conditions in order to be able to increase others”.
Patrick O’Connor — recently a candidate in the Victorian state by-election in Melbourne (where he received 156 votes or 0.57%) — expresses his distaste for the NUW in ‘Union shuts down warehouse strike, imposes sell out’ (wsws.org. July 25, 2012). According to Patrick, the NUW sold the workers out. “After deliberately isolating and wearing down the workers, while allowing Coles to avoid any significant disruption to its business by stepping up operations in other warehouses, the NUW rammed through a regressive enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) that meets none of the workers’ central demands.” Elsewhere, Victorian employers expressed disappointment at the failure by police to smash the picket. “The capacity to freely enter and exit a business premises remains a fundamental right and businesses should not be forced to launch expensive legal action in order to do so. The Victoria Police must play its part in upholding and enforcing the law where court orders are obtained because the ramifications for all businesses are frightening if it does not.”
On a spotterly note:
…the NUW was backed by the pseudo-left organisations. Socialist Alternative functioned as the chief cheerleader for the union bureaucracy throughout the dispute; now the organisation has hailed the sell-out as a “victory.” The Socialist Party is yet to write on the outcome, but it posted an article on its web site on Monday, just hours before the agreement was imposed, urging the Victorian Trades Hall to organise flying pickets at every Coles warehouse and to “mobilise all their affiliates and call for a mass community assembly at Altona tomorrow.” After these pathetic entreaties to the union bureaucracy, the Socialist Party regretfully concluded: “Disappointingly the NUW leaders have so far responded at a glacial pace.”
One union bureaucracy that’s in heap ‘em big trouble is the HSU (East). Apparently, several thousand of its members have failed to renew their memberships after revelations that its leadership, especially the union’s (former) boss, Michael Williamson, may have been slightly greedy and possibly even engaged in some corrupt and nepotistic practices(!). Former HSU boss Craig Thomson has his own battles, of course, some of them playing themselves out on the ah, Internets, especially Wikipedia. For what it’s worth, I think the most sensible solution would be for Thomson to go on a study tour of the United States (and possibly Cancún) to find out how the intarweb works and — in accordance with the requirements of Clause 9.2(b) of Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2006/18 — submit a statement reporting on his overseas study travel.
SDA! Here to stay!
In other news, Australia’s biggest and bestest union the SDA has successfully applied to FWA for a six-month adjournment to EBA negotiations with pizza chain Domino’s (see : Anarchists Deliver Fair Pizza, Conal Thwaite, newmatilda.com, June 15, 2012). This is plusgood news for both Domino’s and the SDA but ungood news for workers covered by the agreement, which now dates back to 2001. The best news is of course that Domino’s is now ranked 6th among Queensland-based businesses, its market capitalisation now estimated to be $289 million, an increase of 69.7%.
More on that later. In the meantime, a group of workers has decided to form a ‘General Transport Workers Association’ to see if a more direct and democratic approach to union organising is possible. (See also : SDA : Australia’s Worst Union? (November 30, 2009).)
Finally, the IWW has a new branch in Radelaide and Wobblies in Melbourne have a blog. In Queensland, in response to the LNP’s attacks on the public sector, a Workers’ Audit is being undertaken. One “written by angry workers’ for angry workers”, the audit “is an attempt to provide information and analysis on the LNP’s attacks on us all”. See also : An Appeal to Reason: the future for maritime workers and the MUA | Unite.