Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union


Unions unite in Tassie dairy workers fight over mainland wage disparity

Unions across Tasmania have united against Canadian cheese manufacturer Saputo Dairy over the wage disparity experienced by the maintenance crew at the processor’s Burnie site in North-West Tasmania.

Unions Tasmania is backing the stoppage, as it calls for Tasmanian workers across both the private and public sectors to be paid equal to their mainland counterparts.

Workers have been exercising their right to protected industrial action having rejected the latest offer by the multinational company during enterprise bargaining negotiations.

The maintenance crew are 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% workers have been asking for that would ensure pay parity with the mainland.

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

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

Media opportunity:

When: Monday 20th May 11:30am

Where: Saputo’s Burnie location at 145 Old Surrey Rd, Havenview.

Available for comment:

Unions Tasmania Secretary Jessica Munday

AMWU Tasmanian Acting State Secretary Jacob Batt

CEPU Tasmanian State Secretary Michael Anderson

Unions will be there alongside workers participating in the strike action

Quotes attributable to AMWU Tasmanian Acting State Secretary Jacob Batt:

“Tasmanians are no longer the ‘poor cousin’ of our mainland counterparts, and as such there’s no reason Tasmanians should be paid 21% less than workers in country Victoria.”

Not only have the maintenance crew been assessed at a higher skill level and should be on higher wages which haven’t been implemented after proper process, they also are paid more than 20% less than their colleagues in other states. How is that acceptable in 2024?”

Quotes attributable to Unions Tasmania Secretary Jessica Munday:

Tasmanians need wages that compete in a national market. Too many employers come to the table with outdated ideas that is somehow cheaper to live here which isn’t true.”

There is no solution to the current cost-of-living crisis with decent wages. It will always be hard to make ends meet if you’re not being paid enough.”

Tasmanian workers face a persistent mainland wage gap, currently running at almost $220 per week (accordingly to average full time earnings data from the ABS in late 2023). These wage gaps are present in both the private and public sector.

This is fundamentally unfair and holds workers back. We are not worth less just because we live in Tasmania. This is why Unions Tasmania and the trade union movement here is backing in the workers at Saputo and will continue to stand with them as they fight for fair wages.”

Quotes attributable to CEPU Tasmanian State Secretary Michael Anderson:

“Tassie workers are sick of being told they deserve less because of where they live. The old trade-off between lifestyle and cheaper living costs disappeared years ago. Saputo pay the same workers over 21% more in country Victoria, why should it be different here?”

“This is the latest multinational which continues to betray hard working Tasmanians and devalue our state. Stop talking about equality and inclusivity and deliver it in wages.”

“If higher wages were going to put the operation at risk, why didn’t they close their Victorian plant years ago? The disparity has existed for ages.”

Media contact: Sonia Feng 0478 599 580

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