Over 700 workers from aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing are currently on strike at the Fishermans Bend plant in Melbourne. This morning at a mass meeting the workers agreed to defy Federal Court orders telling them to return to work. These workers now face possible fines and other serious legal action.
After walking off the job last Wednesday, the workers defied an order by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) to return to work after the dispute began last Monday.
The company claims the dispute began when a worker at Port Melbourne was sacked for “time-keeping irregularities”. Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) Victorian State Secretary Steve Dargavel said problems at the company were far more complex and had been building for some time.
“They have been ‘hard-line’ on time-keeping issues but not explained to the guys about what was expected of them, leaving them frustrated” Dargavel said.
“Despite a commitment to increase employment and receiving government assistance they have relocated work back to the US and New South Wales.
“There are significant redundancies at Port Melbourne, they have sold a site in Bankstown and are relocating contractors there contrary to a deed with the union.”
Dargavel said Boeing had also angered workers by using and abusing 457 visas by paying foreign workers cash-in-hand, and had had past problems with the Race Discrimination Act when it relocated a highly-qualified Australian-Iranian aircraft engineer due to American pressure.
Workers on the picket line told Socialist Party reporters that they now hold fears that many other workers could also face suspension or dismissal in the near future. The workers have also informed us that the company has hired some scabs and was preparing to break the picket. Word from the police is that they will attempt to smash the picket as soon as they can bolster the numbers to do so.
Boeing has forced the workers to make a choice, either they support their fellow workers by taking industrial action or do nothing about the unfair treatment that has been dished out.
This dispute shows that not much has changed since the election of the ALP government late last year. It seems under Rudd bosses have the right to ignore existing agreements. When workers exercise their democratic right to withdraw their labour to defend basic conditions they are the ones who are considered to be in breech of the law.
The Socialist Party urges our supporters to attend the picket and show their support for these workers who are bravely defying a bullying employer and unjust laws. Visit: Boeing (Hawker De Havilland) Wharf Road, Fishermens Bend, Melways reference E12.
By Socialist Party reporters