Factory Workers at Dandenong strike

Nearly 100 Factory workers at Volgren went on a strike outside their Dandenong factory yesterday complaining of change of management and less pay.

The workers claimed that they were better off under Grenda’s bus magnate Ken Grenda, who sold 75 per cent of the business to bus-making multinational Marcopolo in February reports the greaterdandenongweekly.

Tony Kerr, Volgren’s general manager of sales and marketing, denied that the company’s culture had not changed ‘‘one iota’’. What had changed for the worst was the market.

‘‘The bus industry is having more difficult times. Governments aren’t spending the money they used to and there are significantly less buses being ordered than in the past five years, Kerr said.

"Imported buses from low labour cost countries is a significant challenge for us," he said.

Kerr explained that due to the strong Australian dollar, 40 per cent of buses are imported products.

“The company has been very fair and open with its offer for the next three year. Whatever the workers are being offered in the current business environment is better than being offered nothing and losing their jobs.”

"This is no management trick or scare mongering, we have the greatest respect for our employees, and they’re great workers."

Dandenong Leader reports, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union vehicle division organiser Ashley Mayne said the workers had been negotiating with the company for three months and wanted a 5 per cent increase each year for three years.

Mayne said the workers had been offered a 3 per cent wage rise for each year of the three-year agreement.

He said employees were worried they would lose their yearly $777 tool allowance.

Berwick tradesman Keith Topp said he had been at Volgren for 11 years and the environment had changed since Grenda was in charge.

"They treat us now like you don't deserve to have a job," Topp added.

Mayne said the union met with Volgren management last night to discuss the agreement.