Workers at pretensioned bolt manufacturer Megabolt in Campbellfield, Victoria, have been forced to take protected action after negotiations to establish their first union collective agreement broke down, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) said.
Until they joined the AMWU to fight for a better deal, some workers had been on only $15 per hour, for up to ten years, AMWU said.
More than 25 AMWU members stopped work earlier this month, fed up with the company’s reluctance to finalise the negotiations.
The members have lowered their wage claim by 10% since negotiations began in December last year, but Megabolt is still offering an increase 2% lower than workers will accept, according to AMWU.
Union members are seeking a wage rise of 20% over three years, which would see many Megabolt workers earning above the minimum wage for the first time, the organisation said.
AMWU Delegate, Zelko Cimboro, says the workers have had enough.
“Negotiations have been going on for about nine months now — back and forward, back and forward — we just couldn’t get an agreement,” he said.
“The company’s bargaining team just kept saying they couldn’t make a decision, that the company director had to make the decision, but he never came to any of the meetings, so nothing ever got resolved.
“So we took a vote, and we voted to take protected action, because in the end we just want this sorted out but the company kept dragging their feet.
“Now they want to meet again and we’ve said we want to meet with the company director so we can actually get this sorted out.”
Although the plant has remained open, with non-union workers and contractors remaining on site, morale has been kept up and the majority of Megabolt workers have joined the action, AMWU claims.