Postponing Electrolux factory closure no laughing matter, says angry union

NO LAUGHING MATTER: Union and workers’ representatives met with Electrolux management on Wednesday to talk about ongoing wage negotiations and discuss cancelling or delaying plans to expand the company’s operations in Thailand.

NO LAUGHING MATTER: Union and workers’ representatives met with Electrolux management on Wednesday to talk about ongoing wage negotiations and discuss cancelling or delaying plans to expand the company’s operations in Thailand.

UNION officials say Electrolux management laughed at them when they tried to discuss postponing the closure of the Orange factory in light of the unrest in Thailand.

Australian Workers Union (AWU) western region organiser Alan Haynes said union and workers’ representatives met with Electrolux management on Wednesday to talk about ongoing wage negotiations and discuss cancelling or delaying plans to expand the company’s operations in Thailand.

“They laughed when we mentioned it [Thailand. I thought they may have taken it a little bit more seriously,” Mr Haynes said.

On Thursday workers will be given a second chance to vote on Electrolux’s offer of an 11 per cent pay rise over three years. 

Mr Haynes said if employees approved the pay deal at next week’s meeting they would be back paid to the end of March.

“The workers are very angry, they [Electrolux] put nothing on the table” he said.

“They feel like they’re being held to ransom.”

Mr Haynes said workers at other Electrolux operations in Australia, including the distribution and service centres, are being offered 12 per cent.

He said the union was considering protected industrial action next week.

Electrolux corporate communications consultant Craig McCarthy said the company emphatically refuted the claim its representatives laughed during discussions on Thailand.

“In fact, the subject of Thailand’s political unrest wasn’t even raised at this week’s enterprise agreement (EA) meeting,” he said.

“But it is relevant to note that Electrolux has had manufacturing operations in Rayong, Thailand, where the fridge plant is being expanded, since 2006/07. 

“And in the intervening years, these operations have not been affected by political unrest, including military coups. 

“Management does feel there is progress being made in the EA negotiations and can confirm that once agreement is reached, the new pay rates and conditions will be backdated to April 1.”

tracey.prisk@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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