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Bridgestone dispute resolved

From smh| May 02,2007

A long running industrial dispute at tyre giant Bridgestone has ended with workers in Adelaide accepting a new enterprise agreement.

About 500 workers at the suburban Salisbury tyre plant had been pressing for an annual four per cent pay rise over the next three years.

But Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union organiser Jim Watson said they had now agreed to accept what was essentially the company's initial offer, a two per cent annual rise and a range of productivity bonuses.

Mr Watson said the deal had not been recommended by the union but was carried by a vote of workers at Bridgestone "by a slim majority".

The union boss said he could not really speculate on the reason the tyre company's employees accepted the proposal but believed frustration with the length of the dispute was an issue.

The dispute had lasted for more than a year and escalated in March with a series of four-hour stoppages and overtime bans which prompted a lock out of the workers for three days last month.

On Wednesday the company said Tuesday's secret ballot on the new enterprise deal brought to an end 12 months of negotiations.

Chairman and chief executive officer Mac Ohashi said the company was pleased with the outcome.

"The new agreement provides a framework for necessary productivity improvements and a platform for change which will take us into the future," Mr Ohashi said.

Resolution of the dispute also came after shareholders in March voted to privatise the company, ending more than 50 years as a public entity.

They agreed to a $50 million share buy-back to return Bridgestone to a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation of Japan.

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