DuluxGroup managing director Patrick Houlihan. Photo: Jesse Marlow More than 100 staff at DuluxGroup have been barricaded from the paint maker’s Brisbane factory after they voted to go on strike following the company’s refusal to remove a cap on redundancy entitlements.
Dulux – which has branded the strike as “opportunistic” – has installed temporary fencing on council land near the factory at Rocklea. Union officials say this is a deliberate decision aimed at stopping its members from forming a picket line.
The employees’ union, United Voice, and Dulux have been negotiating a new enterprise agreement for several months.
A Dulux spokeswoman said the company anticipated the strike and had “robust contingency plans”, including building up stock levels to ensure no interruptions to its customers.
Fairfax Media has also been told the company installed temporary fencing around the Rocklea site on Tuesday in anticipation for the industrial action, so striking workers could not form a picket line.
The Dulux spokeswoman, however, said the fencing was merely to ensure vehicles could continue to move freely from the site and not an attempt to stop union members from “lawfully assembling”.
She said the staff car park was open to striking employees and the barriers were part of a council approved traffic plan.
“Our intent was absolutely not to stop people picketing, but to make sure that it happens safely,” the spokeswoman said.
“This morning we kept the staff car park, which is on site, open for striking employees because we were so concerned that they may try to park along the roadway, which is less safe.”
But one worker said the fences were “pretty intimidating” and “over-the-top”.
“They’re trying to create an atmosphere that’s not here. The company has gone well overboard with the fence and the security bays on the road,” the worker said.
Dulux has offered employees an annual 3 per cent pay rise and proposed no adverse changes to conditions. It said in a statement this was “fair and reasonable”.
But United Voice is arguing for more generous redundancy entitlements. Dulux wants to retain the cap of 80 weeks pay, recognising 20 years’ of service plus other entitlements including unused annual leave, eight weeks’ severance pay and the paying out of long service leave on a pro rata basis.
But the union says the redundancy entitlements should be uncapped.
“Average service here is more than 20 years,” said United Voice official Damien Davie.
“They have been through different owners and stayed with the company through thick and thin. We just want fairer redundancy provisions.”
Dulux is expecting about 40 job losses when at Rocklea when it opens a new factory in Melbourne in late 2017. It said in a statement to the ASX that about 70 per cent of Rocklea’s 150 operating staff will be retained when the Melbourne site opens
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