Pilkington to try and avert glass strike

Australia’s largest glass manufacturer, Pilkington, will go to the Industrial Relations Commission over a threatened strike at its Geelong plant next week.

About 150 workers at Pilkington's Geelong factory, members of the furniture trades division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), want their employer to provide income protection insurance and are planning to strike next Monday to reinforce the message.Pilkington has condemned the strike plan, which could affect windscreen supplies to Australian car manufacturers within three to four days.The company said industrial action could impact heavily on Australia's car manufacturing industry, possibly costing jobs and endangering investment.The CFMEU and the company are due to appear before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) today although lengthy talks in the commission last week failed to avert the strike.A five-day walkout at Pilkington's Dandenong plant in July ended without affecting glass supplies to the automotive industry.The glass company warned strikes and threats of strikes threatened further investment in Australia by Pilkington and car manufacturers."We just can't keep investing hundreds of millions in new plants and equipment when we keep getting hit by these sorts of disputes," Pilkington Australasia human resources vice president Russell Howard said.

"Our customers lose confidence in us as suppliers."

"Any strike action taken by our employees will pose a real threat to vehicle production and therefore jobs in the car industry."

Howard said the company's Geelong workforce traded away income protection provisions for higher pay last June during enterprise bargaining negotiations.

Workers at Pilkington's Laverton factory in Melbourne took up the company's income protection offer and received lower pay rises, he said.

"This claim is outside the current enterprise agreement and it's outside the spirit of the agreement - it's contrary to what's been negotiated and agreed elsewhere in the organisation with the same union," Howard said.

The CFMEU could not be contacted for comment.

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