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Strike hits up to 2000 Ford workers

By Paul Robinson, Workplace Editor, The Age,
Saturday 19 August 2000

Ford Australia yesterday stood down up to 2000 production workers at Broadmeadows because of industrial action at a Dandenong radiator supplier.

Ford was forced to stand down the car assembly plant workers because it is dependant on the Natra Radiator company supplying on a just in time management basis.

The closure, which is expected to last until the middle of next week, could cost the company millions of dollars in lost production, as well as the workers' wages. It will also do nothing to bolster the confidence of Holden, which has been negotiating with the Victorian and South Australian Governments for the right to build a plant for the company's new V6 engine. The project is expected to generate 1000 jobs and much needed revenue for Victoria. Holden has told Premier Steve Bracks it is concerned at the prospect of industrial action.

The stand-downs at Ford yesterday followed strike action at Natra by more than 150 workers as part of the manufacturing unions' Campaign 2000. That industry-wide campaign seeks a 15 per cent pay rise and improvements to long-service leave and redundancy packages.

The assistant secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Darren Nelson, said management at Natra had just lost the Ford radiator contract to a company called Denso, which would take effect in 18 months, and was tightening up because of a bleak future.

In the meantime they are playing it tough by only offering 12 per cent, less if they improve redundancy payments. The difficulty is management has been taunting the workers, saying they have built up a stockpile. They have said, `If you want to try us on; go for it,' so the members out there voted to go out until next Tuesday, he said

A senior manager at Natra, who refused to be named, said the company had made a decent offer of 12 per cent.