Alcoa workers strike over negotiation breakdown

Alcoa workers gathered at Pinjarra Oval on Wednesday to take part in an industrial strike after the company and workers failed to settle on a new enterprise bargaining agreement. 

The new agreement is being established for the mining giant’s Western Australian operations. 

Negotiations between Alcoa and Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) have been taking place for the past 18 months, however, both parties are yet to reach an agreement. 

About 1200 people gathered at the local sporting grounds to show their support. 

Workers have also walked off the job at Kwinana, Wagerup, Huntly and Willowdale. 

At this stage, workers are taking part in the strike indefinitely. 

An Aloca spokeswoman said the company was aware of the industrial action. 

She said Alcoa would ask employees to vote on a new agreement later this month.

“Our sites have contingency plans to ensure they can continue to operate during industrial action,” she said. 

“Alcoa is seeking to establish an EBA that provides employees with competitive pay and conditions, allows us to manage our operations more efficiently and productively, and enables us to adapt quickly to changing market and operating conditions.

“Our proposed EBA will ensure that employees continue to receive very generous conditions and benefits.”

AWU WA state secretary Mike Zoetbrood said after offering numerous concessions to the company, workers had no choice but to strike.

He said the company had refused to offer workers any level job security in the new agreement.

“Workers will not accept an agreement that offers them zero in the way of job security,” Mr Zoetbrood said. 

“Our members are sensible and only want what is fair and reasonable – a secure and good job.

“But members won’t accept the company using the threat of termination as a means of pressuring the workforce into accepting sub-par working conditions. 

“If the company will not offer workers any job security then the agreement is not worth the paper it’s written on. 

“People can’t work knowing that at any stage they could be shown the door. 

“This is a fundamental principle and it is not one workers will budge from.

“You can’t negotiate down the barrel of a gun. A system that allows employers to terminate agreements is one-sided and totally unfair.”