Essential food workers at McCain Foods in Tasmania were unlawfully locked out, an Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) appeal at the Fair Work Commission has found.
The AMWU challenged the Commission’s ruling that backed McCain Foods locking workers out before they had taken industrial action, a decision legal expert and the union movement said would be dangerous and limit the right to strike if it had been upheld.
This is a major win for McCain workers in Smithton and for working people and their unions across the country, the AMWU say.
Workers were locked out last Thursday, but the corporate multinational ended the lockout on Tuesday ahead of the appeal at the Commission.
Workers have renewed their call on the frozen food giant to cook up a better pay and conditions offer that keeps up with mainland workers who are doing the same work for up to 15 per cent more.
Quotes attributable to AMWU National Secretary Steve Murphy:
“This decision is a win not only for these essential workers in the far north-west corner of Tasmania, but for workers and their unions nationwide – it protects what little right to strike we already have.
“We need to protect what we have. Our bargaining system already makes it difficult for workers to take action.
“The Commission’s initial decision was unfair, and if allowed to stand bosses would have been sanctioned to pre-emptively lock workers out. It would have set industrial relations back more than a decade.”
Quotes attributable to AMWU State Secretary John Short (Tasmania):
“McCain should hang their head in shame. They’ve tried to bully and starve out workers until they submit. It’s a disgrace.
“This is a win for hard-working food workers at McCain in Smithton who’ve worked right through a pandemic to support this multinational corporation.
“These workers were unfairly locked out before taking industrial action, we need to ensure that McCain Foods returns to the bargaining table in good faith and brings their pay and conditions up to the same level as mainland workers.
“They need to cook up a better offer and stop making aggressive moves, locking workers out unlawfully and leaving them out in the cold during a freezing Tasmanian winter.”