Car parts strike drags on

THE damaging strike at car parts supplier, Venture Industries, which is costing Ford millions of dollars a day in lost production, looks set to continue following yesterday’s Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) meeting.

THE damaging strike at car parts supplier, Venture Industries, which is costing Ford millions of dollars a day in lost production, looks set to continue following yesterday’s Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) meeting.

To date, Ford has stood down about 1850 Ford staff without pay since workers at plastics manufacturer Venture went on strike last Thursday.

The workers walked off the job after Venture announced it would shed 230 workers, nearly half its workforce, at its Campbell field site due to a downturn in business with Ford.

The strike is over redundancy entitlements totalling $25m that the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) say have not been guaranteed by the company.

The AMWU, which was in talks with Venture over a new enterprise agreement when the restructuring was announced, wants to keep the current provision of up to 75 weeks severance pay, while the company has said it would only guarantee up to 31 weeks for people who opted for voluntary redundancy.

Ford, which produces 357 cars a day through its Broadmeadows and Geelong plants, has claimed injured third party status and told the AIRC yesterday that the strike had come at a massive cost.

Due to JIT operation, production at Ford’s production plants was affected within 40 minutes of the beginning of the strike at Venture.

Unions won protected status for the strike last week on the grounds that it occurred during an enterprise bargaining period.

Under WorkChoices, the commission can suspend the bargaining period and declare the action unlawful if third parties are directly threatened with significant harm or if the industrial action can cause significant economic damage.

The commission also heard yesterday from the Australian Industry Group and the Engineering Employers Association of South Australia that the Ford disruption meant 400 workers at related suppliers could be stood down.

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