Alcoa strike to drag on after workers knock back company EBA offer

A strike at Alcoa's WA aluminium operations is likely to drag on after employees voted against the company's proposed Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.

Unions had been arguing for "job security provisions", but the company had rejected claims it was attempting to casualise the workforce, insisting union negotiators wanted an "absolute guarantee that employees can never be made redundant involuntarily".

An Alcoa spokeswoman said the company was concerned about the impact the industrial action was having on its workers.

Unionists and striking Alcoa workers protesting outside parliament house in August.

Photo: Nathan Hondros

"We invite them back to work so they can restore their livelihoods while we work to bring this matter to a resolution," she said.

AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton said the vote should send Alcoa management a clear message.

"This decisive vote should provide Alcoa management with the impetus to come back to the table with job security assurances," he said.

"We now have one week to negotiate sensibly and fairly before the Fair Work Commission hears Alcoa’s application to terminate the current agreement.

"Should the termination be approved it would rip up the entire history of negotiated and agreed terms and conditions, replacing them with the vastly inferior award. Such an outcome would completely trash Alcoa’s relationship with its workforce and the community."

Workers had been on strike for 31 days.

Alcoa said it had been working hard to resolve the dispute and had participated in more than 50 meetings with the AWU.

"Alcoa wants to establish a modern EBA that provides employees with competitive pay and conditions, allows us to manage our operations efficiently and productively, and gives us the ability to respond to changing market and operating conditions," its spokeswoman said.

"The proposed EBA offered other provisions that are better than the market including a 14 per cent superannuation contribution and income protection for up to two years in the event of extended illness.

"It maintained many of the provisions we know our employees value including a 36-hour work week and the opportunity to earn extra income through overtime."

An AWU spokesman countered that Alcoa was trying to remove a "No Forced Redundancies" provision from the existing agreement and was trying to undo a clause specifying minimum staffing levels.

In August, hundreds of Alcoa workers and unionists protested outside Parliament House.

They were joined in support by WA Labor ministers and MPs including Deputy Premier Roger Cook and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston.

Premier Mark McGowan had also joined strikers at the picket line outside of Alcoa's Kwinana operations.

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