Mill lockout remains

ABOUT a dozen workers remain locked out of Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill, supported by about 140 of the plant’s maintenance workforce as unions and the site’s major contractor continue their dispute over an enterprise bargaining agreement.

An Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Australian Workers Union picket line at the Mill entered its seventh day after discussions between the parties this week yielded little result.

Contractor Chelgrave faced Fair Work Australia on Tuesday for a mediation meeting with the unions.

Chelgrave general manager Greg Scott described the meeting as “productive” but did not reveal what was discussed.

“All parties talked cooperatively and expressed their views and went away to consider their options,” Mr Scott said.

Last Wednesday night the company informed its workers they would be locked out of the mill site as enterprise bargaining negotiations had stalled.

“Our aim is to get the workers back to work. I don’t think it benefits anyone standing out there in the cold,” Mr Scott said.

Another mediation meeting will be held late next week and Mr Scott said while he had no indication from the unions they would compromise, he was hopeful an agreement could be reached swiftly.

The unions had sought a 2.5 per cent pay rise every six months for three years for the Chelgrave workers.

Meanwhile, the unions met with high-level Australian Paper management on Monday over the picket line.

The company declined a further meeting on Tuesday, with human resources manager Mark Nelson saying representatives “walked away from the (Monday) meeting with things to consider and it wasn’t timely to meet (on Tuesday)”.

A Federal Court writ, attempting to force 122 of the maintenance workers back, failed on Friday.

The AMWU and AWU did not respond by publication deadline.