Unionists worldwide will continue campaigning until the 300 sacked Sri Lankan workers are reinstated.
Unionists from the textile, manufacturing and construction sectors in Australia descended on the Melbourne-headquarters of condom and glove manufacturer Ansell today to demand better treatment of workers in Sri Lanka.
Ansell is fighting a war of attrition against 300 poor and mainly female Sri Lankan workers who they sacked for going on strike at one of its factories.
Sri Lankan unionist Anton Marcus from IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union, addressed the rally in defence of the sacked workers.
Mr Marcus, who had his visa denied by Australian authorities last year, said the workers had wanted nothing more than the right to negotiate through their union.
“These women have very little, so when this Australian company cuts their pay, while raising production quotas, they tried to exercise their right to collectively negotiate through the local union,” Mr Marcus said.
“The company made almost US$200 million in profits last year, but it wanted to take a few cents an hour off these poor women.”
IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, Fernando Lopes, said:
“Ansell cannot expect its inhumane treatment of Sri Lankan workers to go unnoticed. This issue is not going to go away and support for the sacked workers is growing worldwide.”
IndustriALL has garnered international solidarity support for the campaign to reinstate the 300 Sri Lankan workers and address similar abuses of Malaysian workers by Ansell, including from affiliates in Australia, the USA and Brazil.
Ansell made $US187 million profit last financial year – four times the previous year.
Ansell is the biggest condom manufacturer in the Australian market with popular brands including Lifestyle and their ‘next generation’ SKYN.
Ansell workers who were sacked were paid less than 80c per hour to work in conditions so bad that they are forced to relieve themselves at their workstations because they otherwise won’t meet impossible production targets.
The sacked Ansell workers in Sri Lanka were forced to work every day of the week including weekends without overtime payments.