In a move reminiscent of the CUB dispute last year, James Packer’s Crown Casino has sacked a crew of 16 maintenance technicians and outsourced their jobs to Amtek – a business run by the former Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett.
This bald-faced attack, on what is a longstanding workforce, clearly demonstrates the big business agenda of driving down wages in order to maintain and expand their profit margins.
Crown recently reported a net profit of $343 million. Despite this, they are seeking to slash their operating costs by signing a new maintenance contract with Amtek who will employ technicians on wages that could be 30% less than the existing union agreement.
That Jeff Kennett is involved with Amtek only makes matters worse as he clearly has a conflict of interest. When he was Victorian Premier in the 1990s, he himself awarded the casino licence to his Liberal Party mates Ron Walker and Lloyd Williams. They later sold it on to Packer for millions.
This corporate strategy of smashing hard-fought pay and conditions by outsourcing jobs has put a number of unions on the back foot. In the main the union movements response has consisted of publicity stunts and social media campaigns.
While social media campaigns have a role, their impact is limited. What is needed is a united union response that includes industrial action. We need to serve notice on the bosses that the outsourcing jobs will be met with strikes. Only this will force employers to sit up and take notice.
Unless the union movement adopts a fighting approach its relevance will be called into question. Unions that cannot protect workers’ pay and conditions will wither on the vine and more and more wealth will be shifted from wages to profits. We cannot allow this to happen.
By Michael Naismith