Support IFF workers in Melbourne
The workers lock themselves in the company canteen
About 25-30 workers at International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) in Dandenong, Melbourne have initiated a factory occupation in january 25 2015 in response to the company trying to force a pay cut and indefinitely locking them out. SUPPORT IS NEEDED NOW! It's really significant that these workers have decided to take strong industrial action at a point when workers rights are under attack more than ever.
About 25-30 workers at International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) in Dandenong, Melbourne have initiated a factory occupation in january 25 2015 in response to the company trying to force a pay cut and indefinitely locking them out.
SUPPORT IS NEEDED NOW! It's really significant that these workers have decided to take strong industrial action at a point when workers rights are under attack more than ever.
Some Anarchist Affinity members are in the factory from the first time.
Also MACG members have visited the site.
It would be great to have as many people as possible down here asap so we can show solidarity. They have been told to leave or risk trespass by the cops, but have unanimously voted to stay. The cops will probably try to remove them forcefully at some point today.
The factory is 5km from Dandenong Railway station. 310 Dandenong Valley Highway.
The bosses went into arbitration with the workers through the Fair Work Commission. This could result in an injunction ordering the workers to be forced to leave by the cops. Some of us will be down there from 7:30am onwards in case we're needed to help support in the case of a forcible eviction.
The workers at International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) have been camping on the Dandenong site since early Tuesday morning in an effort to get a pay rise linked to the consumer price index (CPI).
The matter went before the Fair Work Commission on last Tuesday night and the hearing it was to resume on Thursday morning.
The National Union of Workers said the sit-in, which has been dubbed "occupy Dandenong", was in response to an indefinite lockout served to the workers from management.
One of the workers, Arthur Ingles, said they had been negotiating over pay and the removal of paid breaks since September.
"We've had EBA negotiations underway since approximately September last year, despite everyone's attempts to resolve this situation, it got to a situation where it was commonly acknowledged that we were just going around in circles," Mr Ingles said.
"As a result, we applied to take protected industrial action, which was to commence on the Tuesday."
But Mr Ingles said when workers arrived to work on Tuesday at 6:00am to "listen to the company's response", they found themselves locked out.
"From there we chose to take action which we believe would accelerate the resolution of this situation and chose to be locked in to the premises, rather than locked out," he said.
The company said they had negotiated in good faith and instituted the lockout because the planned industrial action included a paperwork ban.
"A paperwork ban that would have negatively impacted our ability to maintain quality control over the products we manufacture," IFF said in a statement. "As our products are consumed by families everywhere, we take the quality and safety of everything we make very seriously.
"Therefore, we had no choice but to lock out the workers who would be manufacturing our products without the benefit of quality control processes." The company said they would continue to try to reconcile the situation through the Fair Work Commission over coming days.
"We look forward to an equitable resolution and to getting our employees back to work."
Mr Ingles said his colleagues were prepared to sit it out for as long as the matter took.
"We believe that this situation should've and could've been resolved between the two interested parties, given the stand that we've taken that we're at work and we're prepared to work, we're prepared to be here until the situation's resolved," he said.
Mr Ingles said the group was reasonably comfortable in their temporary residence.
"We're living like kings, I'm sure," he said.
"We're able to bring in food, we've been able to bring in bedding, and it's as comfortable as it can be although I don't think it's going to make it to Dandenong's top 10 hotels."
IFF: Meet with your employees in Dandenong
To: Arjan Koudijs, Regional Operations Manager, Asia Pacific Region
We want to get back to work! We're calling on IFF's Asia Pacific Regional Operations Manager, Arjan Koudijs to meet with Australian employees and end this lockout.
Why is this important?
On January 27, 2015, Australian employees of International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF) began occupying our factory in Dandenong. We were forced to take this action because local Australian management has pushed us to the brink. We believe matters cannot be resolved with local Australian management and we ask that IFF's leadership listen to us, the IFF workforce in Dandenong, because our voices are not being heard in Australia.
All we want is to be heard and genuinely negotiate a workplace agreement, which benefits the interests of both the workers and the interests of the company. We, the workers, have a clear interest in IFF .
In the past, and specifically during the negotiations of our last agreement, we were promised there would be a cultural change from management. But things have only gotten worse. Local management couldn't care less about us. There is no acknowledgement of the humanity involved in the process of running a business.
We were also promised that, due to a break down with local management, we would have quarterly meetings with the Asia Pacific management team. However, we have had only one of these meetings over the last three years.
We believe it is not difficult to treat people with respect. Unfortunately a culture of respect is not encouraged or practiced by management in Australia. Mr Koudijs, we call on you to intervene because we believe Australian management cannot or will not negotiate fairly or respectfully. So far, local management have continued to be provocative and combative, which is not conducive to an agreement being reached.
There has been much talk of productivity from local management, and workers have gone to great lengths already, including moving to 24-hour production. Now it is also time to recognise that workers want security, not uncertainty and anxiety. This, not stealing workers' 10 minute breaks, will see an increase in productivity and the health and well being of the workforce.
Mr Koudijs, to end this lockout and help deliver a swift and fair agreement, will you meet with workers?