Days of Hope & Glory Over

Publisher’s Note: Here are a round-up of stories from the strike at Dulux Paints at Rocklea Brisbane. The CEO of Dulux is Patrick Houlihan. I wonder if he is related to Paul Houlihan, a former Industrial Director for the National Farmers Federation and strikebreaker in Mudginberri (1986) and Patricks (1998) Disputes where the  Trade Practices Act (Secondary boycott provisions) were used against the workers to prevent sympathy strikes.

It is ironic that Labor in power never repealed anti-union provisions contained in the Trade Practices Act.

During the economic downturn we have already seen disputes involving job security e.g. at Hutchison‘s in Brisbane & Sydney, Patricks in Melbourne & Sydney, and Queensland Nickel‘s  Yabulu refinery near Townsville and now Dulux at Rocklea.

Yet on the eve of the sacking of over 240 workers Queensland Nickel made donations to Clive Palmer’s United Party (PUP). Over the past two years, Queensland Nickel has donated more than $21 million directly to PUP. You would have to wonder the scam Clive Palmer had in mind here. If the donations were legitimate why didn’t Palmer simply loan the funds to PUP? Needless to say there will be no royal commission into the criminal behaviour of CEOs and board members fiddling the funds of public companies.

Yet all political parties in power are happy to criminalise the activities of workers organisations. Thanks to Carl from Red Flag for bringing the Dulux dispute to my attention and to Tom Bramble for his article Paint supplies to dry up as Dulux workers walk out included here.

Ian Curr,
19 January 2016.


Scab Truck breaks power lines at Dulux Picket

scab truck at duluxA SCAB truck carrying a giant canister of flammable liquid snapped a power line breaking the Dulux picket at Rocklea Brisbane – shame on the bosses, shame! They could have fucking killed everybody out here, disgusting profit hungry lunatics! #ADuluxDogOfADeal


Paint supplies to dry up as Dulux workers walk out

Picket Line on 13 Jan 2016 Photo: Tom Bramble


“We’re just looking for a fair go”, said Tony Dickson, United Voice delegate at Dulux Paints in Rocklea on Brisbane’s southside, where more than 100 workers have launched an indefinite strike over redundancy entitlements.

The Dulux Group is closing its manufacturing operations at Rocklea and opening a new site in Victoria, costing the jobs of 40 workers, all members of United Voice. Dulux is trying to cap redundancy pay for the workers, a number of whom have been at the factory for decades. Its plans will leave long-serving workers tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket. The company is also preparing to lay off staff on compulsory redundancies, rather than relying on voluntary separations.

United Voice members want uncapped redundancy payouts, no compulsory redundancies and the payout of all accumulated sick leave. After all, as Tony Dickson said, “We’re the goose that lays the golden egg. We’ve put them in a position where they can build a new factory in Victoria”.

The workers contrast the penny-pinching attitude of management towards its workforce with the way they look after themselves – a big salary and interest-free loans for managing director Patrick Houlihan and a hefty pay rise for the head of HR. And fat cat shareholders haven’t gone unrewarded, with dividends jumping by 10 percent in the last year. And yet, despite what the company calls “excellent results” in its paints division, it wants to put the squeeze on its workers. As one worker told Red Flag: “The big boys get all the pay rises, while we’re pumping out record production and it’s our work that pays for them. The bosses here are sitting on cloud nine”.

Management has rejected the union’s claims out of hand. Workers responded by walking off the job in the morning on 13 January.

Dulux is a big company, one of Australia’s top 100, and in 2014-15 made a $125 million profit in the year to September, up more than 11 percent on the previous year. Its Rocklea factory is the last remaining paint producer in Queensland, the biggest paint factory in the country and supplies the entire national market, the South Pacific and South East Asia.

Management claims to have prepared for the strike by stockpiling paint to ensure uninterrupted supplies to customers. And, to rub salt into the wounds, the company has erected fencing outside the factory to make picketing more difficult – workers are barred from the factory where some have given their entire working lives.

But Dulux is vulnerable too. The workers last took industrial action 16 years ago but they are sticking strong in this dispute – all have joined the strike – and on the first morning, dozens were on the picket, some coming in on their annual leave. If their action is successful it will quickly lead to shortages at Bunnings – the company’s biggest customer. Given their leverage, the workers reckon they’ve got a chance of forcing the company back to negotiations.

The workers welcome every unionist and supporter of unions to their picket line which they aim to run on a 24-7 basis. Red Flag readers are encouraged to attend at any time. The address is 1519 Ipswich Road, Rocklea.

Tom Bramble
writing for Red Flag …
Socialist Alternative

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