Workers vote up ‘in-principle’ agreement

UPDATE: Large scale industrial action at Maryvale Mill has been averted, after workers voted up an ‘in-principle’ enterprise agreement proposal at a mass meeting this morning.

 Electrical Trades Union organiser Peter Mooney said a crowd of more than 150 in-house maintenance workers came to their decision after an hour-long meeting outside Maryvale grounds.  

 “It’s hard to put this into words, but the workers were a bit stunned – they were probably surprised Australian Paper had gotten on the same page as us, and we were actually in position to move forward,” Mr Mooney said.

 “They came to the meeting this expecting to go on strike.

 “Overall the (negotiation) process showed a lot of goodwill between parties, we are very happy it didn’t end up in a complete mess of industrial action.”

Mr Mooney said the long process of drafting the new agreement would now begin.

….Maryvale Mill maintenance workers were due to vote on an elusive enterprise bargaining agreement at a mass meeting this morning, after unions and Australian Paper came to a last minute ‘in-principle’ agreement yesterday.

The verbal agreement came in the late afternoon, during a high-level meeting between the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Electrical Trades Union and Australian Paper chief executive Jim Hennebury, aimed at staving off a planned mass workforce walkout.

ETU site delegate Stuart Passalaqua said while the in-principle agreement reached was “not a fantastic outcome” for workers, he hoped the mill’s 170-strong in-house maintenance workforce would vote it up to avoid a period of damaging industrial action.

“It’s not a great agreement by any stretch of the imagination, but our workers understand the business is facing tough times, there is no illusion there,” Mr Passalaqua said late yesterday afternoon.

“We’ve had to give up on quite a few conditions, and accept a very small pay increase, but we hope that there’s a genuine position we can put to the guys.”

Workers were due to vote on whether to accept the agreement at the Maryvale oval at 7.30am this morning.

An enterprise bargaining negotiation for the mill’s maintenance division has been under discussion for about six months, through which the company has moved to roll back “excessive” conditions, while unions have upheld workforce security and manning level concerns.

Yesterday’s three-hour discussion came after unions placed a third moratorium on a planned protected stoppage by about 170 in-house maintenance workers on Tuesday, when their members collectively agreed to give the company “one last chance” before going into a “long drawn out industrial dispute”.