Solidarity for ACI Workers

On 5/7/96, 25 maintenance workers at A.C.I.'s Spotswood plant have occupied part of the site as a protest against their imminent retrenchment. In an attempt to open up negotiations with A.C.I. they decided to occupy part of the plant before they were locked out. It's heartening to see workers embracing occupations as a tactic in their struggles for a secure future. For far too long workers have been prepared to walk out of the gates and let employers bring in scab Tabour to continue production.

As anarchists we have been advocating occupations as an important workplace tactic for sometime. A number of Melbourne anarchists have already become involved in the Spotswood struggle, offering physical as well as moral support to the occupiers. Occupations should be considered as a tactic by worker, community or student groups that are involved in disputes. Occupations change the nature of the dispute because they put the ball squarely in the hands of the occupiers. Everytime a worker sets up a picket line or goes on strike, they lose what little control they have over a dispute.

Occupations are a radical tactic for change they:-

  1. Force the employers and management out of the workplace. This leaves the workplace in the hands of the occupiers.
  2. Makes it extremely difficult for the management or the police to regain the workplace without a major confrontation.
  3. Gives the employees the opportunity to maintain limited production and distribute the goods produced as they see fit. This tactic encourages public support for the occupation.
  4. Does not allow the introduction of scabs on the worksite and helps to maintain workers solidarity.
  5. Makes workers active participants not spectators in their own struggle.
  6. Maintains the dispute in the workers hands and forces management to deal directly with those who are responsible for the occupation. Occupations freeze out professional union bureaucrats and politicians from negotiations.
  7. Occupations can be carried out by industrial, clerical, service and professional workers as well as students and community groups.

An occupation throws out a direct challenge to private enterprise and the State. Through a series of occupations people can build solidarity and ultimately control their workplaces and communities. At the present time thirty police officers as well as twenty security guards are being used to secure the A.C.I. factory at Spotswood. You can imagine the pressure that would be placed on private enterprise and the State if 100 sites were occupied simultaneously.

As anarchists we encourage as many people as possible to add the occupation to their direct action satchel. The occupation at A.C.I. glass, Spotswood, Melbourne, is a sign that workers are willing to use occupations as a tactic in the struggle for job security and a fairer share of the cake. From the Anarchist Age


On 12th July the occupying workers were forcibly removed from the ACI plant by police. As they were evicted, about 100 supporters chanted and jeered the police, who outnumbered the workers 2 to 1. On July 11,. the Transport Workers Union placed a ban on trucks taking goods to and from the plant. On July 11 also, management stood down maintenance workers who refused to repair machinery. Solidarity action has come from other ACI plants. On 9th July BTR(ACI's parent company) workers at a stop work meeting voted for solidarity action via placing bans on overtime, contractors and outsourcing.

To visit the ACI workers picket and show solidarity, it is located at Raleigh St. (just off Simcock Ave), Spotswood.