Joy workers vote to end six-month strike

Joy Mining Machinery's Moss Vale workers voted to return to work last week, bringing to an end six months of industrial action.

Staff Reporter

A group of mine machinery workers from the New South Wales southern highlands voted October 13 to return to work after being locked out of their jobs in April.

The 73 workers from Joy Mining Machinery, Moss Vale, voted in favour of a deal which will allow them to return to work on October 23.

The six-month dispute at Joy Mining started over a pay claim and quickly worsened.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary Paul Bastian said the workers were locked out of the factory for three months before management moved in scab labour, resulting in the workers taking indefinite strike action.

Bastian said the workers voted to return to work only when the scab labour had left the site.

"It's been a very long and protracted dispute," he said.

"The issues the company sought to achieve by deunionising the workplace by using American style union-busting tactics have failed."

Bastian said the company had tried to negotiate four separate enterprise bargaining agreements on the site.

He said despite employing tough legal tactics, the workers stance against the company resulted in them securing a single bargaining agreement.

"The workers will be resuming work victoriously and they are more stronger, more united than ever," he said.

"I think the company was faced with a determined resolve of the membership not to be intimidated and stood over by management - our workers wouldn't cop that."

Bastian said Joy management and the three unions involved in the dispute - the AMWU, the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union and the Australian Workers Union - had also agreed to drop all separate court action.

It is not known whether Joy will continue to pursue separate cases in the District Court.

Joy lodged cases against the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and the union's state secretary Andrew Ferguson for damages of up to $1.4 million for his alleged involvement at the Joy picketline.

Another District Court matter was against South Coast Labor Council secretary Arthur Rorris for damages of up to $700,000.

Bastian said some issues still had to be arbitrated in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, including the exact amount of the enterprise agreement.

Comment was being sought from Joy management.

Published, 13 October, 2000