Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Lavington: Workers' picket after mass lay-off

The 'divide and conquer' method the bosses are using In Lavington is one that is leaving the workers in an extremely hard position over being able to effectively fight back. This is a major issue for the town on the border of NSW and Victoria, and is not the last we will see of similar.

Please distribute as best you can in solidarity with the workers, they are shattered over the position they are in, with no income they are are at the beck and call of the company, with Centrelink being used to stop them from effective protest. They need the money, and the company not telling them who will be employed possibly in the next few weeks (no timeline) has left them in the position they cannot refuse the work, or any benefits will suffer.

Why are the offshore banks being placed above the workers?
Why are suppliers etc being placed above the workers?
Why is management still on full wages?
Where has the workers entitlements gone between December and now?

The only thing the workers have left is for people to show solidarity in getting the message out there over how they have been shafted. They hope that we can raise the profile so that their struggle is heard in the capitals.

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Three hundred and thirty eight workers at Drivetrain Systems in Lavington (Albury) have been sacked without pay or entitlements as management proceeds to strip the factory of an estimated $17 million in assets. Sacked: Workers and families gather at Drivetrain Internation on Kaitlers Rd in Lavington.

Workers are camped at the gates of the Kaitlers Road factory demanding the $5 million dollars in entitlements owed to the workforce. In December management and the AMWU assured employees that their entitlements were safe at the troubled business. On Friday workers were sacked without pay, and informed that there was simply no money.

"Between now and December they've been spent our entitlements" said one worker "we don't know what on".

Whilst all workers were sacked without pay, management and executive staff were retained on full wages. Management still occupies the factory.

Workers say that there are still $17 million dollars worth of gear boxes still at the Kaitlers Road factory, but they fear they wont see a cent. The administrator has announced that the payment of financial creditors comes before giving workers their due entitlements.

The Kaitlers Road factory used to employ 1024 workers, this is not the first time that mass sackings have occurred. The factory is the only manufacturer of gear boxes in Australia, and was until the recent sackings the largest AMWU shop in the state.

Management has embarked on a deliberate campaign to split workers at the Kaitlers Road factory. Management has said they will re-employ a third of the workforce for a period of eight weeks, but have not stated which third of the workforce will be re-employed.

Action by workers has been hamstrung by this move. Desperate workers struggling to support families have said they cannot afford to jeopardize the possibility of eight weeks pay. If workers refuse the eight weeks work, they jeopardize future claims to Centrelink payments. Workers find out who will be re-employed on Wednesday, and will vote on whether to return to work on Wednesday morning.

Support the picket line on Kaitlers Road, workers appreciate all supporters who drop in. In you're not in Albury-Wodonga, you can join the Facebook group, contact media outlets, and raise this issue with your local member.

Why will workers entitlements only be paid after debts owed to banks and suppliers? Surely the families of workers must have a higher priority than the profits of foreign banks, when a business like Drivetrain International collapses?

This report from the picket by:

Dave Fregon - 0434000234
Kieran Bennett - 0430509913

If you need information or contacts for the workers, please contact:
Dave Fregon
NetAxxs Workers Collective

Ph: +613 5721 7777
Mob: 0434 000 234
Ely Street

Wangaratta 3677


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