Protesters were lucky to escape with their lives this morning as two trucks driven by an aggressive employer rammed a community protest in the Melbourne suburb of Kilsyth. In full view of the police, a senior manger of the Elliott Group drove a semi trailer through the crowd.
The semi trailer side swiped a police car causing minor damage. But four protesters were left clinging to the front of the truck fearing for their life. Unable to either move out of the way, or get off the truck, they were forced to hold on whilst the driver took off reaching speeds of up to 60 km per hour. The frightening ride was only stopped by pursuing cars that stopped the truck over 2 km away.
Whilst driving through the crowd the boss had also opened his door and kicked at least two protesters from the cabin. The demonstrators has discussed with the police when they arrived at the Kilsyth plant and told them that they wanted to protest peacefully and hand workers and truck drivers leaflets as they came in and out. The police had agreed to this saying that it was a democratic right to protest.
After the incident one police officer told protesters that the driver was a “dangerous fruit cake”. Other police officers told protesters that they would be charging him with at least assault and leaving the scene of an accident. They were also considering the more serious charges of dangerous driving and using a vehicle as a weapon.
The protesters we demonstrating against the Elliot Group, who owe workers thousands of dollars in lost entitlements. The company has refused to pay 48 maintenance workers in the Latrobe Valley who have been locked out and sacked by Elliot Engineering (trading as MEC).
The lock out began in September last year and has now been going 33 weeks. It was triggered after unions took protected industrial action against the company during a dispute over a new enterprise bargaining agreement. MEC was placed into administration and the employees who refused to return to work under Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) were later sacked. Under the ‘Work Choices’ legislation, because there was a transmission of business, MEC does not legally have to pay out what was accrued by the previous owner.
One of the former employees, John Scholtes, said outside a recent court case that “the workers would continue their protest at the gates of MEC until they received their full entitlements. We are still here protesting until we get what’s owed to us.”