Auto component workers at Victorian company CMI Industrial, returned to work on Monday after a breakthrough in negotiations between the AMWU, receivers and a landlord to re-open the company’s gates.
The workers, who were forced to stand down on April the 19th after being locked out by CMI’s landlord in a dispute over outstanding rent, will now face an anxious wait as receivers assess the company’s future.
AMWU Assistant State Secretary Leigh Diehm said the return to production was a relief although uncertainty still surrounds the company.
“Our members are glad to be back, they had been very keen to return last week. However it is also clear that the CMI group are in serious financial difficulty and it’s going to be a concerning time for everyone.”
He said the union would fight to ensure workers were protected should CMI collapse, or receivers sell the business on.
“We want to know what the future of the company is. If CMI goes into liquidation then the receivers are hopeful a number of their plants can be sold.
“What that means, we’re not sure yet. If they are to be restructured then that will mean redundancies and in the event of redundancies we want to make sure our members are looked after.”
Workers at CMI will only be eligible to receive payment of their entitlements if the company enters liquidation. Even then it could take anywhere up to six months under the Federal Government’s GEERS scheme.
“It’s not good enough for our people to be tapped on the shoulder, only to be told they won’t receive their entitlements for six months,” Mr Diehm said.
“So we’ll be speaking with the Minister’s department (Bill Shorten, Minister for Employment and Workplace relations) to see if that can be expedited.”
Mr Diehm also urged the Victorian Government to do more, slamming their handling of the situation so far.
“Where was Ted (Premier Ted Baillieu)? Last Tuesday he came out and said he would save the day, then we heard nothing for the next three days. He has not played a proactive role and he has done nothing to help resolve the outstanding issues for CMI workers.
“How important is manufacturing to the Baillieu Government? We’ve seen hundreds of job losses in Victoria in the last few months. He needs to play a more proactive role for manufacturing.”
In a further snub to manufacturing in Victoria, the Baillieu Government announced a paltry $14.5 million to assist manufacturing in this weeks State Budget.