Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union


Tasmanian dairy workers halts cheese production as calls for mainland wages left unanswered

Saputo Dairy’s Burnie factory in North-West Tasmania is facing significant production problems this morning, after the factory was forced to cancel pressed cheese production all day on Monday.

The company then was forced to confront further reduced production from Monday night due continued protection industrial action from workers since Sunday night.  

Members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) and the Communications, Electrical & Plumbing Union (CEPU) said Saputo Dairy had underestimated the capacity for members to halt production.

Workers at the site have been taking protected industrial action since Sunday, calling for Saputo Dairy to address the discrepancy with Tasmanian wages which have been ignored during enterprise bargaining negotiations.

The maintenance crew have been calling for industry rates of pay and mainland wages, as workers on sister sites in Victoria earn 21% more than their colleagues in Burnie.

Saputo Dairy latest offer of 9.5% in the first year is well short of the 21% that workers have been asking for which would ensure pay parity with the mainland.

Negotiations with Saputo Dairy Australia have been ongoing since August 2023.

Saputo Dairy produces specialty cheese brands including South Cape, Tasmanian Heritage and Mersey Valley.

Quotes attributable to Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union Tasmanian State Organiser Michael Wickham:

“It is starting to bite now. The only reason workers have not increased the action even further is they continue to wait on a Saputo Dairy’s response and are not inclined to unnecessarily increase the intensity without a response first. But that intensity increase is now not far off as Saputo continues to ignore the capacity of workers to do so.”

Media contact: Sonia Feng 0451 034 839

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