The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has condemned print and packaging company Ovato for their announcement that they have applied to cut workers’ pay and conditions.
The AMWU has been working with Ovato since March to negotiate reduced working arrangements because of the impact of COVID-19 on the business, but the company yesterday notified the union that they had made an application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to terminate the agreement currently covering the majority of the Ovato workforce.
Terminating the agreement would force workers back onto the pay and conditions set out in the Graphic Arts Award, effectively cutting their entitlements.
“We are very disappointed that Ovato has chosen to take such extreme action against their workers when the workers have bent over backwards to accommodate the company”, said AMWU Assistant National Secretary (Print and Packaging) Lorraine Cassin.
“Workers have been constructively engaging with the company since COVID-19 hit and company revenue dropped. Workers were willing to reduce their working hours and take annual leave to keep the company going. This is a real breach of good faith”, Ms Cassin said.
AMWU delegate at the Clayton site in Victoria Shaun Ryan said that workers were feeling angry and betrayed.
“We did the right thing by the company before JobKeeper became available and now they’ve turned around and terminated our agreement”, Mr Ryan said.
“Workers are feeling lied to. We did everything we could for the company when COVID hit. They shouldn’t be able to just terminate our agreement like this”, Mr Ryan said.
Approximately 850 Ovato employees will be affected by the termination of the agreement. Ovato has sites in every Australian state except Tasmania.
The union is calling for Ovato to withdraw their application to terminate the agreement and return to the negotiating table.
An AMWU member at the Geebung site in Queensland who did not want to be named said “workers have absolutely tried their hardest to support the business, and then today we find out that the company wants to tear up the Agreement and push us down onto the NES. There are guys here with 35 years of service who have been loyal to the company and suddenly their entitlements are being ripped away. It’s disgusting.”