Canning MP Andrew Hastie has pledged to support striking Pinjarra workers by contacting Alcoa’s national managing director on their behalf – but will not table new legislation at parliament that would go against the government’s current stance.
Hundreds of disgruntled Alcoa workers descended on the politician’s Mandurah office on Friday morning to call for his assistance in ending the Australian Workers Union’s (AWU) stand-off with the multi-national company.
About 1600 workers from the company’s facilities in Pinjarra, Kwinana, Wagerup, Huntly and Willowdale are on indefinite strike in a bid to ensure their job security and to maintain their current conditions.
After 18 months of negotiations, news broke on Friday morning that 80 per cent of workers have rejected a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement and as such the strike will continue.
Alcoa workers are calling for new legislation that would ensure the life of an EBA remains in place with CPI increases until both parties agree on a new agreement.
Mr Hastie addressed the workers on Friday morning by speaking into a microphone while standing on the tray of a ute outside his Sutton Street office – and said he would contact Alcoa’s Australian managing director Michael Parker on their behalf.
“I know you have a very strong presence in our community – I represent 2000 of you when I go to Canberra,” he said.
“I am very sympathetic to your point of view – there are a lot of people in this part of the world that are struggling for job security.
“I’ve also heard from unlikely sources in the Peel region – people you wouldn’t think would support you, but they do.
“I know you’ve taken a hit – and I know how committed you are.
“I have made the commitment that I will call Michael Parker and argue your case. I’ll make sure I get your message across.
“I think we should put Australian workers, families and seniors first.”
When pressed by members of the crowd about tabling the legislation at parliament, Mr Hastie gave a defiant response.
“I will look you in the eye and say I’m not crossing the floor on my own government on this issue,” he said.
AWU state president and Kwinana site convener Andy Hacking said the number of people in attendance was “absolutely fantastic.”
“That he (Mr Hastie) will make it known (to Mr Parker) that working families are hurting in this and try to resolve it as soon as possible is a big tick,” he said.
“Crossing the floor – it is a little bit disappointing but it wasn’t unexpected to be honest.
“We are already of the view that there is a fair chance, with the laws, that Alcoa may win the termination of the agreement. We will just have to wait and see and do the best job we can to protect that.
“We are not getting too far ahead of ourselves as these disputes have a way of changing day-to-day. We are working hard as a committee.”
AWU national secretary Daniel Walton will meet with Mr Parker on Friday afternoon, while Mr Hacking said the negotiating committee and state branch continued to work on a strategy moving forward.