Pinjarra: Opposition leader Bill Shorten supports Alcoa workers over job security

Bill Shorten. All photos: Jon Hewson
Bill Shorten. All photos: Jon Hewson

OPPOSITION leader Bill Shorten showed his support for Alcoa workers during an Australian Workers Union meeting at North Pinjarra Oval yesterday .

More than 1000 Alcoa workers from multiple refineries have voiced their concerns for more than 20 days over Alcoa’s proposed enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).

Labor leader Mr Shorten told the crowd of Alcoa protestors he could not believe the company had pushed them to the point of launching strikes.

“We’ve seen the spread of casualisation of labour hire,” he said.

“I cannot believe it but I do, that Alcoa has pushed you to this point.

“This is the first thing I want to say to you – if the workforce at Alcoa are in dispute and have been on strike for over 20 days I do not believe it is your fault.

“You do not to choose to be here but the company has taken you for granted.”

Mr Shorten said he was certain the mining giant would “move” its stance in relation to its WA workers’ concerns regarding job security.

“This company will move,” he said.

“The reason it will move is not because it’s inevitable but because you’re strong and you have very good arguments.

“It’s not right that a company in Australia can say to a group of workers, unless you accept a reduction in your conditions, we will just put you back on the award – that’s not the way the system should work.”

Mr Shorten said he understood the financial toll the strikes would take on each worker in the crowd.

“What you’re going through can’t be easy,” he said.

“Your kids or your partner would ask when is it going to get fixed, and you’re losing money – I understand that.

“What you’re doing is fighting for something very important, job security.

“You don’t want to be the generation of Alcoa workers that hands on inferior conditions.”

AWU WA state secretary Mike Zoetbrood said 1600 workers at the Kwinana, Pinjarra and Wagerup refineries and Huntley and Willowdale bauxite mines would be affected by the proposed EBA agreement.

“Unfortunately there has been no progress with the key outstanding issue of concern to AWU members – that of job security,” he said.

“Alcoa have indicated they wish to wait until the closure of the Enterprise Agreement (EA) ballot on September 6.

“The proposed EBA is not supported by the AWU and we are certain there is nil chance of the agreement receiving majority support from the workforce.”

An Alcoa spokeswoman said claims by the AWU that Alcoa is seeking to casualise the workforce were simply untrue.

“The union is seeking an absolute guarantee that employees can never be made redundant involuntarily,” she said.

Voting on the new EBA began this Tuesday and will finish on September 6.

Alcoa protestors in Pinjarra for the Strike for Your Rights concert

PINJARRA’S Premier Hotel will be home to the Strike for Your Rights concert this Saturday , when Alcoa protestors will gather to celebrate their brotherhood.

The concert will be dedicated to local community members and businesses, including the Premier Hotel, who have supported Alcoa workers during recent protests over their proposed enterprise bargaining agreement.

Hosted by the AWU, local bands including Filthy Habits will perform and food and drinks will be shared.