Simplot at loggerheads with unions as protests continue

The future of Simplot’s Devonport plant again seems uncertain, with staff planning industrial action for later this week.

Negotiations between the manufacturer and unions have failed to bear any fruit, and industrial bans have commenced at the Tasmanian facility with further action planned at the NSW factory.

The ABC reports that unions are calling for a 12 percent pay rise over three years, while Simplot is offering four percent.

The company says it needs to restore competitiveness before it can consider such significant pay rises, referring to the industrial action as “reckless”.

Devonport workers will strike for four hours on Friday and Bathurst workers are planning a month of rolling overtime bans starting Thursday.

Late last month, managing director Terry O’Brien said the industrial action would have a significant impact on operations.

“The potential threat of industrial action has come at a time when harvesting is at its peak,” he told ABC News.

“We believe Simplot has proposed a very fair and reasonable offer for our employees considering the economic climate and industry challenges."

Simplot last year warned its employees that the Bathurst and Devonport facilities were under threat of closure, with the competitive industry and high Australian dollar rendering them uncompetitive.

"If insufficient opportunities are identified, we will be forced to close our Bathurst plant after the next corn season. Our Devonport plant will be required to produce a five year improvement plan with satisfactory outcomes or face the prospect of a longer term (three to five year) closure," O’Brien said at the time.

Just a few months after this announcement, it was confirmed the Devonport plant would remain open for the next three years, allowing it to fulfil new contracts made with both Coles and Woolworths.

The company did however state that the plant will need to make significant savings or it will potentially face closure by 2019.

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