The 27 Boeing maintenance engineers based at Williamstown RAAF site in NSW have been on strike for over 225 days. They are fighting for the right for the AWU (Australian Workers Union) to negotiate a collective agreement to cover their wages and employment conditions. Boeing is trying to force them to accept individual contracts.
The striking workers have received community support and donations are being collected from workers across Australia. Despite the support strikers are finding it financially hard after such a long time but are determined not to give in to the bullying tactics of Boeing.
Boeing’s refusal to negotiate the Williamstown workers collective agreements is based on the companies desire to cut costs and maximise profits through wages. It?s also an example of how big business is flexing its muscle with the support of Howard?s new industrial relations legislation.
The AWU are taking the matter to the NSW industrial relations commissions Inquiry with the AWU President stating that workers “were pleased with progress”. The problem in this dispute is that Boeing really doesn’t care about their workers and legislation is always there to support the bosses. Even if the courts rule that there should be collective agreements Boeing can still refuse to do so as the right to collective bargaining is not stated in the new federal legislation.
Boeing employ over 700 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers working for Boeing in Australia who already have a union negotiated collective agreement. So the next step has to be a call for other Boeing union members to go out on strike to support the 27 workers. These workers deserve the support of all Australian workers and the ACTU and AWU need to plan an industrial campaign to impact on all Boeing operations in Australia. Workers are the ones making the profit for big business, if workers stop working profits crumble.
By Samantha Ashby