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Tag Archives: AMWU

by: By Tim Ayres

IT might seem like everything’s made in China these days but chances are, you use something every day that’s made in Sydney’s western suburbs – whether it’s the automatic transmission in your car, a scratchie, a solar panel or a smoke alarm.

As trains and motorways are funneling commuters east, work is already under way at the thousands of small and medium-sized factories and workshops often hidden from view.

Near Liverpool, workers at HPM make the only Australian-made powerboards, sockets, smoke alarms and switches you’ll find at your local hardware store.

At Minto, workers churn out Streets paddle pops and Cornettos. At Bella Vista, workers at ResMed make devices to treat sleep apnea.

Of course, making things in Sydney has its challenges. Across Australia, manufacturers are being squeezed by the high Australian dollar and low-cost overseas competitors.

As western Sydney is a manufacturing centre, the current squeeze on the industry disproportionately hurts the region. 

Jobs are being hit.

Two hundred jobs were lost when multinational Reckitt Benckiser closed its West Ryde factory, sending the manufacture of its iconic Australian brands Mortein and Dettol overseas. The Huntington factory that supplies Australia with its scratchie instant lottery tickets is soon to shut, with the work being sent overseas. Sixty jobs are going there.

Hundreds of jobs will be lost when Shell stops refining oil at its Clyde site.

The same story of job losses is playing out on a smaller scale at many workplaces across western Sydney. If we don’t pay attention to our manufacturing base in western Sydney, we face watching it fade away. Good, skilled trades jobs in manufacturing industries with a future are critical to the economic success of the region.

Wages from good blue-collar jobs sustain suburban economies, while local manufacturing creates supply chains that spread economic benefit well beyond a single enterprise.

With real commitment from industry and government, Sydney’s west can be a smart and skilled manufacturing centre in the competitive global economy.

We need to aim for a future in which an auto component maker in Blacktown can win a contract against one in Guangzhou.

We won’t get there on labour costs: we’re lucky to live in a country where people earn fair wages. It will be through investment in technology, innovation and skills; a commitment from industry to employ managers who are capable of leading their enterprises in a tough environment; and a serious effort from government.

Government’s role is not to prop up outdated technologies and industries. But it should be fighting for good local jobs, supporting the industries of the future and creating the environment for them to thrive.

We haven’t seen much of that lately: 17,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost from NSW since the O’Farrell government took office. Barry O’Farrell may not have personally sacked those workers but nor has he been defending them nor putting up the big ideas for the NSW manufacturing jobs of the future.

A place to start would be the North West Rail Link. The state government has trumpeted the project’s potential to create jobs, yet has set no local-content target.

The North West Rail Link could be a driver of manufacturing jobs in western Sydney in steel fabrication, in rolling-stock components, in air-conditioning units, in concrete.

Or tenderers could just send all of that work – for thousands of Aussie jobs – overseas.

In Granville, workers at Knorr-Bremse produce brake sets for trains – I’d love to see them get the chance to supply the trains that run on the new train line. But I’m not holding my breath.

A mandated ratio of apprentices to skilled tradespeople on North West Rail Link contracts would deliver some serious investment in training and valuable opportunities for young people to take up a trade.

There are many elements to building a thriving manufacturing future for western Sydney. Business, unions, training organisations, residents and government at all levels have a role to play.

But it won’t happen by itself. 

Tim Ayres is NSW secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union

 As the Australian economy continues to restructure in the shadow of China’s economic growth, uncertainty in Europe and the US, Australian manufacturing employees lose their jobs…hoping that the new economy creates them real, sustainable jobs…


April 26, 2012 – 2:31PM

Ford will close its Australian car-making operations for almost a week following the appointment of administrators at parts manufacturer CMI Industrial. Ford says production will cease at the close of business today and not resume until next Wednesday. About 1800 workers will be stood down at the Broadmeadows and Geelong plants tomorrow and Tuesday next week, while a rostered day off will go ahead as scheduled on Monday.

 The company says Friday and Tuesday workers will still be to be paid 50 per cent of their wages, which they can top up with annual leave. Ford says it believes it will take CMI administrators several days to stabilise the business and resume production, and it would then be 24 hours before parts are available to Ford. CMI Industrial has been handed over to voluntary administrators Grant Thornton, and receivers McGrathNicol.

Workers at the car parts factory that supplies Ford with crucial suspension components were this morning locked out of CMI Industrial’s Campbellfield workplace for a fourth day. Ford Australia had said that it would be forced to start standing down workers later today if the production line at the factory could not be restarted by tonight.

Employees of CMI Industrial, which makes parts for Ford Falcons, met outside their factory this morning and were told the company was likely to go into administration today. Shop steward Keith Thomas, who has worked at CMI for the past 16 years, this morning said workers had been turning up to CMI Industrial every day since its gates were locked last Thursday.

“We’ve showed up here last Thursday morning and the security guards were here,” said Mr Thomas, who is one of 80 employees to gather outside the factory this morning for a briefing from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. “We’ve all rolled up to work this morning, and we’ve been doing it since last week. This whole thing is not our fault. Tomorrow we come back here and hopefully it is better tomorrow than today,” Mr Thomas said.

For the past three years, some workers at CMI Industrial have been working four days a week because of money shortages at the company. CMI Industrial’s management has not paid all of its rent since December, and the landlord of the Campbellfield factory changed the locks last week and refused to let management in. The landlord is believed to be owed $116,000.

The shutdown has had a flow-on effect to all of CMI Industrial’s five businesses, which ultimately employ 446 people across Australia. Ms Phipps said this week that Ford would be forced to stand down workers from this evening if CMI Industrial and the company it supplies, Dana Australia, cannot continue to deliver parts.

Leigh Diehm of the AMWU said workers would continue to keep turning up each morning in the hope that CMI Industrial would re-open. He said CMI Industrial had a solid financial future, once it had worked through its current money problems.

“The company will be going into administration this morning,” the AMWU’s Leigh Diehm said at the factory this morning. “We’ve got workers out here who haven’t been paid superannuation for 10 months. “They are pretty well devastated. They are very unsure of what this means for their futures.”

CMI Industrial owner Max Hofmeister could not be reached for comment this morning. He is believed to be in Queensland.

Ben Schneiders
June 22, 2009

A SENIOR union leader has promised a tough line on violence and intimidation, saying it will not be condoned, amid claims of death threats and violence at the recent West Gate industrial dispute.

The dispute was used earlier this month by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard to justify Labor keeping laws that treat the building industry and building workers differently. They include tough coercive powers that can require building workers, under threat of jail, to answer questions.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Dave Oliver said if allegations were proved against any organiser at his union they would be dealt with.

“Very clearly we have a policy in place, we do not condone violence, intimidation and bullying and if anything is substantiated about any allegation about our organisers we will deal with it,” he told The Age.

A union organiser was alleged to have made death threats against a security guard and his family, although these claims have been denied. Civil and criminal and court court cases are under way as a result of the dispute and Mr Oliver said he would watch what came out of them.

“If anything comes out we will deal with it appropriately, we don’t condone that (violence) whatsoever,” he said.

Ms Gillard has been criticised for using the dispute despite none of the allegations being proved by a court. Labor’s stance has enraged many unionists.

Electrical Trades Union state secretary Dean Mighell said construction union organisers would be “laughed at” if they told members they should vote Labor at the next federal election.