Workers take a stand against sexual harassment

TRARALGON: McDonald’s workers at Traralgon Central Plaza walked out on 17 February in protest at sexual harassment at work and joined a 100-strong rally outside the store, organised by the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU).

They had walked off the job earlier in the month over claims of sexual harassment, which have been raised since December. But management has taken no action to address the issue.

Sarah, the shift manager at the time of the walk-out, said employees made the decision as, “No one was feeling safe. The crew and myself were in a lot of distress.”

MELBOURNE: Plane refuellers at Tullamarine, members of the TWU, employed by Rivet, were planning a 24-hour strike on 8 March for a pay rise.

Their action would affect Qantas international and domestic flights but Cathay Pacific, Qatar and Singapore Airlines and freight companies such Australia Air Express and DHL were also likely to experienced delays.

Refuellers have not had a pay rise in three years. Meanwhile Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, gloated over a half-year profit of $1 billion announced in February.

NATIONAL: Workers at Merlin Entertainment, members of the UWU, have won significant improvements after walking out on strike for the first time ever.

Members stopped work at SeaLife Aquarium in Sydney, Melbourne and Mooloolaba.

They won a 13-15 per cent wage increase for all workers, including an increase to hourly rates of up to $1 per hour; penalty rates for all workers; an average dive allowance of $16 per day; and greater commitment to conversion to permanent employment for casuals.

ADELAIDE: Electricians and plumbers employed by the Downer Group at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, members of the CEPU, held a 24-hour strike on 17 February over a pay cut in their next four-year EBA.

Downer is offering 4 per cent in the first year and 3 per cent in the following three years. The Downer Group made an after-tax profit of $152 million in 2022.

Downer is refusing to back pay workers to when the last EBA expired in October 2022, meaning the workers would not have received a pay rise since November 2021.

BRISBANE: Lecturers and tutors, members of the NTEU, at the University of Queensland, went on strike on 22 February, more than 600 days since the last agreement expired.

Meanwhile at QUT, a deal through to 2025 was agreed just before Christmas, with a 14.1 per cent pay rise.

GOLD COAST: More than 650 drivers and cleaners-refuellers, members of the TWU, at Kinetic Buses on the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads went on strike again for 24 hours on 17 February.

They had voted to reject the company offer of a below-inflation pay rise, with 77 per cent against. It was their third strike in six weeks workers voted to reject Kinetic’s initial deal.

Kinetic is offering a rise of 8.2 per cent in the first year but only four per cent in the second year and is also demanding greater “flexibility”.

POINT BONYTHON: Members of the AWU at Santos’s Point Bonython port in the Upper Spencer Gulf have been refusing to connect and disconnect oil tankers and gas carriers since late last year.

They are taking action for a 5 per cent pay increase per year, backdated to July 2020. Point Bonython workers are striking alongside other Santos employees in the Cooper Basin for a new EBA.

PORTLAND: In late February, AMWU and ETU members started six full days of rolling stoppages at Alcoa’s aluminium smelter.

Workers have voted down an offer of 11 per cent over four years after finding out management had offered their WA workers 14 per cent over the same time-frame.

In addition, the WA workers enjoy a 36-hour week, a condition Portland members are seeking.

Meanwhile, Alcoa’s CEO has given himself a 21 per cent pay rise.

SYDNEY: Garbage collectors, members of the TWU, at Cleanaway in the City of Sydney held their fourth strike day on 14 February over a pay cut in their enterprise agreement. They are already paid $4 an hour less than most other yards in NSW.

The company is offering a 5 per cent pay rise in the first year, 4 per cent in the second and 4 per cent in the third year.

Meanwhile, Cleanaway’s profits in 2022 were $80.6 million and in the first half-year of 2023, $49 million.

The Noosa Cleanaway yard in Queensland voted to take protected industrial action as Cleanaway attempts to roll out a national pay cut.

NATIONAL: ABC journalists, members of the MEAA, postponed a 40-minute strike on 7 March to allow negotiations to proceed.

Close to 90 per cent of union members had voted in favour of industrial action up to and including an indefinite strike.

By Tom Orsag


Solidarity meetings

Latest articles

Read more

Big Pharma meets big resistance

About 65 maintenance workers at CSL Behring, in the northern Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows, having been on rotating strikes since August.

Union strategies: segmented, staggered and piecemeal

Welcome to Solidarity's monthly round-up of workplace struggles.

‘Words are cheap’: Workers fight wage cuts

Our monthly industrial round-up reports on disputes in NSW, Victoria and WA.