Sigma strike ends after four weeks

Joining in: Striking Sigma workers were joined by nurses and Monash Student Union members at the picket line in Rowville last week. Picture: Ted KloszynskiWORKERS at the Sigma pharmaceuticals plant in Rowville are celebrating the end of month-long industrial action after management agreed not to remove penalty rates on night shifts.
Nanjing Night Net

Union members voted to stop striking at a meeting yesterday, after representatives held conciliation talks with Sigma management at Fair Work Australia on Monday evening.

Site organiser Rod Wigg said it was a “great outcome”, although there would still need to be some “trade-offs on the peripheral” before formal negotiations concluded.

He said workers at the Rowville plant had also received a “good wage increase”.

The end of the industrial action will be a welcome relief for the company’s management, as well as the companies it supplies, after industrial action escalated last week when nurses and university students joined the picket line.

Mr Wigg said up to 130 workers had taken part in the strike, which has involved picket lines and blocking trucks from entering the premises.

He said nurses had decided to protest alongside Sigma workers because “they understand what it’s like to have your conditions of work attacked”.

Monash Student Union environment and social justice officer Laura Riccardi said earlier her group had felt compelled to join the fight.

“It represents an attack on an employee’s most basic working conditions. All they’re asking is to maintain what’s currently in their EBA.”

The students took the protest to Chemist Warehouse stores in Oakleigh and Clayton on Friday because the company is a major recipient of goods from Sigma.

Ms Riccardi said the group received about 50 signatures on a petition stating that Chemist Warehouse should boycott its contract with Sigma.

Mr Wigg said he had heard Chemist Warehouse was running low on some of its product lines due to the lengthy strike action.

However, Mr Wigg said the picket line had been flexible regarding trucks carrying “life preserving” drugs.

Chemist Warehouse declined to comment when contacted by the Weekly.