Essential food workers at McCain Foods in northwest Tasmania have been locked out of their workplace by their employer in their continued campaign for improved pay and conditions.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) have called on McCain Foods to deliver a decent deal and recognise workers bent over backwards to support the company during a pandemic.
Workers are being paid up to 15 per cent less than workers at McCain foods on the mainland and nearby workers at Simplot who are doing the same work.
AMWU workers held a meeting outside the gates of McCain Foods in Smithton on Thursday morning after the company locked them out.
Workers are also calling for improved sick pay – an important move during the current environment where public health advice encourages workers to stay at home even when mildly unwell to get tested for COVID-19. Having enough sick leave is crucial to stopping the spread of illness at work, the AMWU say.
Workers have also called on the company to introduce a underpayment clause to protect them from being underpaid and a paid family and domestic violence clause, like one McCain workers in Ballarat have.
Quotes attributable to AMWU State Secretary (Tasmania) John Short:
“It’s outdated to see these workers in Smithton as the poor cousins of mainland workers. They deserve the same pay and conditions, that’s all they’re asking.
“These essential workers have helped keep food on the table during a pandemic. They bent over backwards to support McCain Foods during a pandemic and instead of recognise that contribution the company have opted to lock them out.
Quotes attributable to AMWU organiser Mick Wickham:
“These workers who’ve been locked out and are out at the gates of McCain Foods deserve a better deal. They’ve stood by the company, working right through a pandemic and the company needs to back them.
“Instead McCain have locked these workers out and are refusing to agree to decent pay and conditions that will bring them in line with workers on the mainland.”