Workers at Nestle gained themselves an Easter gift when they approved an agreement that will deliver wages increases of nearly three per cent each year.
The agreement also includes commitments from the company about taking on extra apprentices, use of leave for members effected by family violence and the opportunity for more flexible hours when older workers wish to transition towards retirement.
That’s on top of the wage rises which are, well above the cost-of-living rate.
The new agreement covers more than 450 AMWU members in production and maintenance at Nestle sites in Blacktown, NSW and in Broadford and Campbellfield in Victoria. Workers at these sites produce iconic products such as the Kit Kat, snakes, and medicinal cough lollies.
AMWU National Food Secretary Tom Hale said management had taken a more enlightened approach towards the issue of family violence, agreeing no person should be subject to any discrimination in being given leave time to deal with these matters.
The company would also consult delegates each year before the budgetary process about the possibility of hiring new apprentices in maintenance and the company will provide and pay for all tools for maintenance workers.
Management had also committed to answer all applications for leave within five working days, after some members found it very difficult when trying to plan and book for trips.
Broadford delegate Arlene Bradshaw said this was welcome, as was the agreement on a part-time ‘transition to retirement’ option – provided the financial consequences were explained to members.
“Delegates from each of the three sites were closely involved in every stage of the negotiations and overall it has been a fairly orderly process,” Mr Hale said.
“It’s a result they’ve been pleased with and are members have voted to initially endorse.”
Mr Hale said the wording of the agreement was being finalised this week, with a formal vote due soon so it can put before the Fair Work Commission for final approval.
The agreement also includes backpay to November, when the previous agreement expired.
AMWU Campbellfield delegate Chris Voogt described negotiations, mainly done over successive days at the Bell City hotel complex in Melbourne’s north, as “civil.”
“It’s a tough negotiating climate in manufacturing industry,” he said. “We’ve done better than a roll over, people are very happy - particularly with the pay rise.”