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Fair Work Commission to Rule on Strike at Australian Paper

AUSTRALIA 15 February 2018 -- (From news reports) -- Australia's only manufacturer of office, printing and packaging papers is waiting on a Fair Work Commission (FWC) ruling on the month-long strike by 87 workers that has hit its envelope-making facility in Melbourne.

Australian Paper went back to the FWC this week to seek a suspension of the industrial action amid reports that its Preston factory had been forced to import envelopes from overseas to keep up with customer demand.

"It's clear they're hurting and one of the warehouse guys inside says he's never seen it so empty in there," says AMWU delegate Dean Griffiths, who appeared before yesterday's hearing and was cross-examined, along with other union reps, by lawyers representing the company.

"The company put in a bargaining order with the commission seeking to either suspend or terminate the picket line and we will abide by the commissioner's decision," says Griffiths. "If she says we need to suspend the picket line and we say no then it would be classed as an illegal industrial action."

Commissioner Sarah McKinnon is now considering the company's application and the union expects a ruling in the next day or two.

"In the meantime, everyone is still out here on the grass outside the warehouse and we continue to get a lot of support from other unions and the local community," says Griffiths.

The workers are seeking wage increases of 2.5 percent over three years. Griffiths says the company offered a four-year deal that included a wage freeze for one year, followed by 2 percent rises in the second and third years and 2.5 percent in the fourth.

Australian Paper is owned by Japanese-based Nippon Paper Group, one of the 10 largest companies in the global forest, paper and packaging industry, with more than 20 paper mills in Japan and business interests in Asia, Oceania, North and South America and Europe. Australian Paper, which also operates a paper mill at Maryvale in Victoria, is Nippon Paper's largest investment outside Japan.



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