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Sri Lankan unionist Anton Marcus – whose visa was blocked by the Immigration Department last year – will address a rally today to champion the rights of Sri Lankan workers of Ansell, the Australian manufacturer of condoms and gloves.
Hundreds of textile, manufacturing and construction workers will descend on Melbourne-based condom manufacturer Ansell’s global head office in Richmond to demand better treatment of workers in Sri Lanka.
Ansell is fighting a war of attrition against 300 mainly poor female Sri Lankan workers who it terminated for going on strike at one of its factories.
Mr Marcus who is the Joint Secretary of Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union said the workers had wanted nothing more than the right to negotiate through their union.
“These women have very little, so when this Australian company cuts their pay, while raising production quotas, they tried to exercise their right to collectively negotiate through the local union,” Mr Marcus said.
“The company made almost $200 million in profits last year, but it wanted to take a few cents an hour off these poor women.
“Today’s protest kicks off a campaign in Australia to expose Ansell condoms – including its popular Lifestyle brand.”
National Secretary of Australia’s Textile, Clothing & Footwear Union Michele O’Neil said Australia’s millions of condom users should know about Ansell’s appalling treatment of workers.
“We know the company cares only about its bottom line so this action is intended to expose the truth to Ansell condom customers in Australia.”
The protest will take place at 678 Victoria Street, Richmond from 12pm Tuesday.
Ansell made $US187 million profit last financial year – four times the previous year.
Ansell is the biggest condom manufacturer in the Australian market with popular brands including Lifestyle and their ‘next generation’ SKYN.
Ansell workers who were sacked were paid less than 80c per hour to work in conditions so bad that they are forced to relieve themselves at their workstations because they otherwise won’t meet impossible production targets.
The sacked Ansell workers in Sri Lanka were forced to work every day of the week including weekends without overtime payments.
Media contact: Tim O’Halloran – 0409 059 617