Community picket victory at Turella factory
Liam Mitchell of Sydney activist network Worker Solidarity shows how community pickets can help workers in struggle.
Workers, unions and community activists have had a victory at Thompson's Roller Shutters yesterday [November 15]. The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union signed an enterprise agreement with the company, which included a wage rise, increased redundancy entitlements, entitlements back paid to July 31 and a written agreement from the company that no striker would be victimised. The workers agreed to sign and are returning to work this morning. The unlawful dismissal case taken by the union for the worker sacked after complaining about racial discrimination is still to be resolved.
A week ago, the AMWU was very worried about this dispute, they thought it would drag on and was even unwinnable. The dispute had been going for three weeks, the boss was cocky and refusing to negotiate with the union and production was high. Morale on the picket line was low.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week, as well as Tuesday this week, community members mobilised by Worker Solidarity came down to the picket line. The large numbers who turned out and the threat of a community campaign against the boss was decisive in forcing a shift. On Monday this week, the boss's negotiator told the union he was ready to present a document that would end the dispute. Production had decreased inside the shop and morale on the picket line had soared, while it was obviously dropping inside.
The union organiser and the striking workers have asked that their thanks be given to everyone who turned up to support the group. They have said that the dispute would not have been won if it was not for that community support and the community picket lines.
We can all feel proud that our actions tipped the balance in favour of the striking workers. However, while it is good to get a victory under our belt, there are several other disputes going on in Sydney that will need our support, as well as the need to mobilise people to come to the November 30 rallies. This win, though, will certainly go a long way to increasing the confidence and trust between the unions and community activists and no doubt we will be called on in the future for further solidarity.
To get in touch with Worker Solidarity, email [email protected]