Dairy workers industrial action ends with new pay deal

The industrial dispute at Parmalat’s yoghurt factory in Echuca has been resolved, with workers accepting a new pay deal.

AAP reports that 70 workers had been locked out of the factory for two months after rejecting previous deals.

After workers rejected an initial pay offer, the company applied to terminate the existing agreement which the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) claimed would see wages slashed by up to 40 per cent.

Under the new agreement, the workers will receive a two per cent wage increase over the next three years and all production workers will be direct employees of Parmalat. In addition, there will be improved union rights provisions and the existing arrangements for Parmalat metal and electrical trades employees will be maintained.

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus called the news “a huge win for the Parmalat workers”.

“Following on from the win by CUB workers last year, there is a clear warning to big business that they should stop trying to undermine or attack workers and instead work with unions to ensure fair and mutually beneficial outcomes,” McManus said.

“No Australian should be locked out of their workplace and be threatened with pay cuts, just as no Australian should have their pay cut as we have seen with 700,000 penalty rate workers – we must fix the unfairness in our industrial relations laws.”

A spokeswoman for Parmalat also welcomed the resolution of the dispute.

“The terms and conditions for employment remain largely unchanged, however, employees will receive a 2 per cent wage increase over the next three years,” she told the SMH.

“In years two and three, wage increases will be set at 2 per cent, or the national CPI for the June quarter, whichever is higher.

“At this stage, it is expected that employees will return to work on Thursday and we are very pleased with this outcome – for both our business and the Echuca community.”

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