AMWU Media Release
Wednesday 18 January 2017
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has slammed dairy company Parmalat for locking out its Echuca workforce early this morning, and called on the company to end its attempts to tear up their enterprise agreement to slash wages and conditions.
The production and maintenance workers at the Echuca yoghurt-making facility have been in negotiations with the company for their new enterprise agreement since August last year, with the workers keen to maintain their industry standard existing wages and conditions.
But in November, the company applied to tear up the existing agreement to cut the workers’ wages in half, increase the length of their working week, and gut redundancy provisions.
In response, the workers voted to take legally protected industrial action but have been met by this heavy-handed and extreme response from the company.
“Parmalat’s actions today are outrageous and extreme. The workers are simply exercising a legal right to take protected industrial action in response to the company’s efforts to tear up their existing agreement and attack their permanent jobs and their wages and conditions,” said AMWU National Food Secretary Tom Hale.
Mr Hale said that Parmalat is following the lead of other giant corporations’ attempts to evade Australia’s industrial relations system by destroying existing enterprise agreements to impose substandard agreements, and called on the Government to intervene and protect Australian workers from multinational greed.
“Parmalat is yet another example of a greedy multinational company trying to undermine our entire industrial system by tearing up existing enterprise agreements to slash the wages and conditions of working people,” said Mr Hale.
“This company made over $1.5 billion in 2014-2015 in Australia alone. Not only have we seen these sorts of companies go after the livelihoods of dairy farmers around the country, now they are going after their own workers,” said Mr Hale.
“These Echuca workers just want a fair agreement with the same permanent, full time jobs, and wages and conditions that they have today. Instead they have been met by this heavy-handed response from the company, when they could just be getting back to the table to negotiate a good outcome for everybody,” said Mr Hale.