Geelong Textile Workers Protest Outside Liberal MP Sarah Henderson's Office


Workers from Geelong based carpet manufacturer Godfrey Hirst will today protest outside Federal MP Sarah Henderson’s office against the Federal Government’s proposed Australian Building & Construction Commission and its use by their employer Godfrey Hirst.

Godfrey Hirst, Australia’s largest carpet manufacturer, is seeking to use the Abbott Government’s proposed National Building and Construction Industry Code to cut workplace conditions.

Godfrey Hirst have advised workers and their union that they are covered by the proposed Code and they will not meet to negotiate an agreement unless the TCFUA and workers at the sites agree to a Code Compliant agreement. The proposed Code is not yet law.

Michele O’Neil, Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia, National Secretary believes that the company is seeking to use the proposed Code to cut existing conditions applying to workers in all Godfrey Hirst sites across Geelong.

“The Government and the Company’s real agenda is clear. For Godfrey Hirst workers they would lose important job security clauses in their Enterprise Agreement. They include a ratio of no more than 1 casual worker to 15 permanent workers; casual employment being limited to 16 weeks; removing the requirement for the union and workers to agree to any unpaid stand down and a last on first off clause for redundancies.”

Ms O’Neil further said “The Company's tactics showed the Code's impact is wider than the Government's stated intention of regulating the conduct of Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union officials on buildings sites.”

"This is not just about how a union official behaves on a construction site," she said. "It's also about a textile worker not being able to have an agreement that protects their job."

“The ABCC and the Code are bad and unfair laws for building workers but they are also bad and unfair laws for textile workers.”

Godfrey Hirst workers have been seeking to negotiate a new enterprise agreement since May last year, the workers have not had a negotiated wage increase since 1st July 2013. The Company has refused to meet since September 2014 after workers and the union rejected an offer of 1% pay increase with a Code Compliant agreement. The company passed on the 1% on 1 July 2014.

Workers will deliver a letter to local Liberal MP Sarah Henderson today asking that she meets with a union delegation to discuss their concerns and commits to opposing the ABCC and the Code. The workers will ask Ms Henderson to publically reject the proposed laws and stand up for workers and their rights in Geelong.

Details for the Protest against the ABCC, the proposed Code and Godfrey Hirst’s action:

Thursday, 9th April
Sarah Henderson’s office
3A/195 Colac Road
Waurn Ponds, Vic

For further information and comment please contact TCFUA National Secretary,
Michele O’Neil on 0419 338 853