Union launches Streets ice cream boycott

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has called for Australians to boycott Streets ice creams this summer, claiming some of its workers are facing huge pay cuts.

Unilver, the maker of the ice creams, has applied to terminate the collective agreement negotiated by workers at its Minto site. According to unions, if successful, this will cut annual pay packets of workers by 46 per cent.

“Today, we are officially declaring a Streets Free Summer. We are calling on every Australian to stand up for fairness. If Streets won’t do what’s right, we won’t take a bite,” said Steve Murphy, AMWU NSW Secretary.

“No Australian worker should be forced to take a 46% pay cut. Streets and Unilever have decided to hit the nuclear option and have given workers no choice. It’s clear now, that the only way to make this global corporation listen is to hit them where it hurts.”

In response, Unilver called on the union to work constructively to secure Streets factory future.

“Our goal is to keep making Streets ice cream products in Australia, but our Minto factory lacks the flexibility needed to run a seasonal business and is too costly to run, making it uncompetitive,” the company said in a statement.

“We cannot continue with the current situation as it’s simply not sustainable.  For example, it’s currently almost 30 per cent cheaper to import a Magnum Classic ice cream made in Europe than to make the same ice cream at Minto, even when you include the 16,000 kilometres of frozen transport.”

Murray Goulburn retrenches 60 transport workers

Murray Goulburn will sack 60 workers in response to the reduction in milk supply and its milk collection needs.

The dairy co-operative said in a statement the workers affected will be tanker drivers and others in support roles from Koroit, Leongatha, Maffra and Rochester.

The statement added that to minimise the impacts on employees, it will first seek to make changes to rosters and offer voluntary redundancies.

“These actions are regrettable but necessary to ensure a strong MG that can deliver sustainable and competitive returns for our suppliers,” the statement read.

The announcement comes as rival dairy manufacturers consider offering bids for the beleaguered Murray Goulburn. Today is the cut-off day for bids and it is expected that a short list will be drawn up from those bids.

Bidders include New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra as well as European and Asian dairy companies.



Labour-hire operator penalised for underpaying overseas farm workers

Fair Work Ombudsman legal action stemming from the national Inquiry into exploitation of overseas workers on Australian farms has led to a Queensland labour-hire operator being penalised a total of $102,000 for underpaying 144 employees.

Queensland man Ram Kumar has been penalised $17,000 and his labour-hire company, Seasonal Farm Services Pty Ltd, has been penalised a further $85,000.

The penalties were imposed in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane after Kumar admitted his company had underpaid 144 employees a total of $60,780 between June, 2014 and June, 2015.

Kumar and his company also contravened record-keeping laws, including by failing to keep any records for a further 70 employees who were paid piece rates.

The lack of records prevented the Fair Work Ombudsman from assessing whether the additional 70 employees had received their minimum lawful entitlements.

Judge Vasta said he found the record keeping contraventions to be “extremely serious” noting the impact it had on ascertaining the quantum of underpayment to the employees who were paid piece rates.

Fair Work inspectors found that Seasonal Farm Services had underpaid the 144 employees after supplying them to pick and pack fruit and vegetables on a number of farms in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley.

One of the employees also performed supervisor duties.

Most of the employees were overseas workers from Asia, Europe and the UK who were in Australia on 417 working holiday visas at the time with three aged as young as 19.

A number of the employees were working for Seasonal Farm Services to become eligible to stay in Australia for two years on their 417 visas by undertaking 88 days specified work in a designated regional area and in certain industries in their first year.

The employees were generally paid flat rates ranging from $16 to $18.50 an hour.

However, as casual employees under the Horticulture Industry Award, the pickers and packers were entitled to be paid $21.09 an hour, with the supervisor entitled to $22.31. The largest individual underpayment was $2820

The underpayments persisted for several months after the Fair Work Ombudsman put Kumar and his company on notice of the need to pay minimum award rates.

Food making salaries on the rise

Salaries for employees in the food manufacturing sector are rising and the demand for some specialised management staff is also up, according to new research.

According to the annual Hays Salary Guide, within the food sector, increased investment in technology and strong regulation and governance have created demand for skills in quality and compliance. As a result, salaries are rising and there is a particular demand for Production and Operational Managers.

Considering the manufacturing sector as a whole, the study found that seventy-six per cent of Australia’s manufacturing employers will give their staff a pay rise of up to three per cent in their next review, but seven per cent will not increase salaries at all.

In addition, 15 per cent of employers intend to award a salary increase of between three and six per cent, while just two per cent of employers will increase salaries at the higher level of more than six per cent.

“The value of the Australian dollar has stimulated manufacturing growth and more companies are bringing manufacturing back in-house,” said Tim James, Director of Hays Manufacturing & Operations.

“While the demise of the automotive sector continues, there are many positive stories of talent successfully transferring into other industries and facets of manufacturing. One is the Victorian Government’s ‘back to work’ scheme. Another is the number of SMEs in South Australia that have embraced diversification, resulting in new headcount creation across skilled blue collar and senior management roles in the latter half of 2016.”

James added that job candidates who adopt an agile approach and transform with the industry will see the most success in the manufacturing sector.

Worker at seafood processor paid just $9 an hour

The Fair Work Ombudsman has assisted a former employee of a seafood processing business in Box Hill, Victoria to recover $85,000 in unpaid entitlements.

The worker, who was a general hand assisting in the loading and unloading of stock, was paid just $9 to $11.50 during 16 years of employment at the business.

He worked at the business an average of 22 to 35 hours per week.

The employer told the Fair Work Ombudsman that the employee received a lower rate of pay because they believed the employee had a reduced capacity to carry out tasks and had hired the employee out of compassion.

The employee should have been paid according to the General Retail Industry Award 2010 for the duration of his employment.

Currently, Level 1 retail employees are entitled to receive $730.80 per week, or $19.44 per hour.  The rate increases to $24.30 for evening work and Saturday work, $38.88 for Sunday work and $48.60 for public holiday work.

Representatives from the Fair Work Ombudsman contacted the employer after receiving a request for assistance from the employee and assisted the parties to resolve the matter, without need for enforcement action.

The employer was educated about their obligations under the Fair Work Act.  They co-operated with the Agency and promptly rectified the matter.

The business avoided enforcement action because it co-operated with the Fair Work Ombudsman, agreed that it had breached its obligations and did not have any history of non-compliance before this matter.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the error was inadvertent and was the result of the employer failing to check their obligations under workplace laws.

“When we find errors our preference is to educate employers about their obligations and assist them to put processes in place to ensure mistakes are not repeated,” James says.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s website has a range of tools and resources to assist business owners to understand and comply with their obligations, including the Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT).

New supply chain guides to help businesses avoid worker exploitation

The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched new tools to help prevent the exploitation of workers in contracted labour supply chains.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said her agency developed the materials as it was still seeing too many cases where vulnerable workers were being ripped-off as complex contracting arrangements allowed dodgy operators to infiltrate labour supply chains.

“We have seen case after case of people such as cleaners, security guards, agriculture and horticulture workers and trolley collectors being forced to accept sub-standard rates of pay through long and complicated contracting arrangements while the beneficiaries of that labour who sit atop the contracting chain, normally a large business, have no oversight of the unlawful practices occurring in their networks,” James said.

“The community expects large reputable businesses to make sure the workers in their contracting chain are being paid appropriately, even when that business may not be the direct employer of the workers.

James said that the four new guides are intended to help other businesses monitor and manage their contract arrangements to help make sure every single worker in their contracting networks is being paid fairly and appropriately.

Accessible here, the new resources are:

  • Guide to labour contracting: for help on how to select a potential contractor and identify if they are complying with workplace laws
  • Guide to monitoring your labour contracting: for help on mapping existing contractors and subcontractors, examining compliance and addressing any problems
  • Guide to self-auditing your business: for information on how to conduct a general self-audit of your business to ensure you’re complying with workplace laws
  • Guide to monitoring your labour contracting for small business: checks for small business owners to minimise your risk of hiring a non-compliant contractor.

The four practical guides have been developed with the assistance of experts in the field of supply chain management and will help businesses monitor and manage their contract relationships.

Image: Fair Work Ombudsman

McCain industrial dispute continues

An industrial dispute at McCain’s Wendouree site will continue into next week, with workers voting to reject a new enterprise bargaining agreement today.

Hepburn’s The Advocate reports that around 150 employees met out the front of the factory yesterday afternoon. They voted to at the time to reject a new EBA, and are in the third week of an industrial dispute. 

Around 350 workers walked off the job earlier this month.

According to the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, members have been refused leave requests after giving ample notice, permanent workers are under-staffed, and casuals are not receiving enough shifts.


A spokesperson for McCain has contacted Manufacturers’ Monthly to explain that workers have been presented the EBA today to be reviewed prior to a vote on it, which will be anonymous and confidential and take place between September 30 and October 4.

According to the spokesperson, “around 100 of the plants’ 438 workers voted in principle to denounce the EBA at the mass meeting, but they hadn’t seen it yet. There were also CUB workers and other AMWU organisers there.”

McCain worker burned by hot oil as industrial action continues

A worker at McCain’s Ballarat factory was burnt by hot oil last week because the replacement worker from New Zealand failed to properly clean a fryer, the AMWU says.

As the Courier reports, the injured worker was taken to hospital with minor burns and discharged shortly after.

According to AMWU organiser Angela McCarthy, the worker’s arms were injured because of a carbon build-up in a pipe which had been cleaned properly.

“They didn’t clean the fryer properly so when our guys came in last week and a pipe burst and one of our members got sprayed with hot oil on his arm which could easily have been his face,” Ms McCarthy said.

“The people who were running it while our stoppage was taking place clearly weren’t able to run the place.

“They were able to produce very, very little.”

Ballarat plant manager Karl Thin said the replacement workers were qualified to do these jobs.

“The staff who are at our plant this week from New Zealand are fully qualified for the roles they are fulfilling, because they perform the same roles in our plants in New Zealand,” he said.

“Our employees often travel between our plants to share information or help cover outages, so this is not unusual for them.”

According to the AMWU, the industrial action concerns 10 open claims, including just one cost claim regarding increased sick leave for workers on 12-hour shifts.

Image: ABC


Labor pushes for IR inquiry as unions rally against CUB

The Opposition, in the backdrop of yesterday’s Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) protest, is pushing for a Senate inquiry into the use of legal loopholes to cut workers’ pay and conditions.

The SMH reports that Labor already has the support of the Greens and crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie for the inquiry, and will need just the support of either the Xenophon or One Nation parties for the motion to be carried.

As 9News.com.au reports, about 3,000 people took part in yesterday’s march which started at AFL House and moved through city streets to Parliament House.

Given that CUB is a major sponsor of the AFL, protestors were calling for a “CUB beer-free footy finals season” as part of their protest.

More broadly, the industrial action stems from June when a group of 55 maintenance workers at CUB’s Abbotsford brewery were told that their jobs had been re-contracted to a new service subcontractor, Programmed-Skilled Maintenance, and that they would have to reapply to keep them.

However, the new contracts did not include the conditions of the previous contracts and involved pay cuts of up to 65 per cent. They refused and now find themselves unemployed.

Victoria’s Industrial Relations Minister Natalie Hutchins addressed the rally on the steps of Parliament House.

She warned CUB of brand damage and said the Andrews Government preferred a “co-operative approach” on industrial relations.

“I know CUB say these technicians and workforce in that area are not theirs, but I also know CUB can’t produce beer without them,” she said.

“To let this company get away with what they’ve done to these workers would be a travesty, a (travesty) for people not to be able to stand up and have their say.”

According to the Herald Sun, State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy slammed Hutchins’ presence at the rally.

“This is Victoria under Daniel Andrews where the Industrial Relations Minister picks sides rather than mediating and solving disputes,” Guy said.

“The Andrews Labor Government is so fractured that even a supposedly impartial minister will take sides in an industrial relations dispute just so they can build a union power base.”

CUB spokeswoman Jennifer Howard claimed no workers had been sacked and said that all had received their full entitlements, including redundancy payments, and that the new roles offered salaries of $70,000 – $120,000, before overtime.

“CUB has not employed maintenance workers since 2009 and we changed providers this year,” she said.

“Anyone losing their job is not an issue to be taken lightly — that’s why the former contractor and their people were given six months’ notice of the end of the contract and people were paid redundancies by their employer.”

Image: AMWU

Labour firm at centre of CUB industrial dispute ends contract

Programmed Skilled, the labour hire firm involved in an industrial dispute at Carlton and United Breweries’ facility in Melbourne has terminated its contract with the brewer.

The company said in a statement the move was cause by fears surrounding the ongoing safety of its employees, whom it claims have been verbally abused by picketing workers at the Abbotsford site.

Back in June, a group of 54 maintenance workers at the Abotsford brewery were told that their jobs at the brewery had been re-contracted to a new service subcontractor, Programmed-Skilled Maintenance, and that they would have to reapply to keep them.

However, the new contracts did not include the conditions of the previous contracts and involved pay cuts of up to 65 per cent. They refused and now find themselves unemployed.

Since then there have been weekly rallies outside the Melbourne headquarters of the company by the AMWU as well as the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

“Over many weeks, Programmed has sought a resolution to this issue to the satisfaction of all parties, but to no avail. This has included meeting with CUB and the unions on a number of occasions,” Programmed said in the statement.

“Having failed to find a satisfactory resolution, the company has terminated its agreements with CUB and will work with CUB over the coming weeks to arrange an orderly transition.”

“Programmed’s first priority is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of its people, and this has been the key driver for today’s decision.”

As the SMH reports, Electrical Trades Union state secretary Troy Gray said that CUB should now “do the fair, Australian thing and reinstate the sacked workers”.

“The real question for CUB is when is common sense going to prevail?” he said.

“There is no other contractor who would touch this contract with a 40-foot pole due to the disgraceful way CUB has acted in the past 10 weeks.”

CUB said in a statement that, despite the “unacceptable behaviour” towards contractors from Programmed, it had been trying to work with the labour hire company.

“Unions are entitled to their view, but we believe they should not have the power of veto over pay rates of a company which is lawfully employing people at our site,” CUB said.

Sushi chain underpays migrant workers $51,000

A Gold Coast business which runs a sushi factory and allied restaurant and take-away food outlets in Queensland and NSW underpaid three Japanese employees more than $51,000 over 18 months, an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman has found.

As a result, the company – Four Seasons Australia Pty Ltd – and its director, Young Hun Cha, face enforcement action from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Four Seasons has a food preparation factory at Southport, restaurant Sushi 1 at Buranda Village and take-away outlets at Biggera Waters and Tweed Heads South.

Fair Work inspectors found that three Japanese nationals with limited English, including one 417 working holiday visa-holder, were short-changed when they worked for the company between April, 2014 and November, 2015.

Two of the workers were employed as kitchen attendants at the Buranda restaurant and short-changed $26,206 and $18,460 respectively.

They were paid a base rate of $16.37 for all hours worked, including weekends, public holidays and overtime for work preparing and selling Japanese food.

Under the Restaurant Industry Award, they should have been paid at least $16.80 per hour for ordinary hours initially, rising to $17.79, and as much as $44.48 per hour for public holiday work during the time the breaches took place.

The two workers were introduced to the roles by a non-English language information site established to assist Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Thai speakers seeking education information, share accommodation, job information and the location of flea-markets primary for non-English speakers.

The third employee was underpaid $6551 while working in the Southport food factory preparing sushi products for sale in the company’s outlets.

That worker received a flat rate of pay of $13.50 for all hours worked and should have been paid at least $17.29 and up to $44.48 for public holiday hours under the Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated the matters after receiving requests for assistance from two of the employees.

Given that Four Seasons had previous interactions with the Fair Work Ombudsman dating back to early 2010, the Agency has initiated enforcement action in the form of an Enforceable Undertaking (EU), aimed at encouraging behavioural change and future compliance with federal workplace laws.

The company and Mr Cha have apologised to the former employees and committed to reimbursing them all outstanding entitlements.

The EU requires the company to donate $2000 to the Working Women’s Centre in Queensland, undertake workplace relations training and conduct an independent auditor to assess its future compliance in 2016 and 2017.

Enforceable Undertakings were introduced by legislation in 2009 and the Fair Work Ombudsman has been using them to achieve strong outcomes against companies that breach workplace laws, without the need for civil court proceedings.

“We use Enforceable Undertakings where we have formed a view that a breach of the law has occurred, but where the employer has acknowledged this, accepted responsibility and agreed to co-operate and fix the problem,” says Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.

In 2015-16, a total of $3.85 million in underpaid wages and entitlements was returned to 2132 employees as a result of their employers entering into Enforceable Undertakings with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

This is up slightly on the $3.75 million recovered for 2507 workers the previous year.

Ms James says the underpayment highlights the need for employers to ensure they are aware of the minimum hourly rates and penalty rates that apply to their staff, and pay them accordingly.

“Minimum rates apply to everyone – including visa-holders – and they are not negotiable,” she says.

“Employers must ensure they meet all their workplace obligations, regardless of where and how they source their workers.

“It’s not acceptable to pay a worker a ‘going rate’ or what you think the job is worth.

“I am increasingly concerned about the number of matters where visa-holders and vulnerable workers are being underpaid by culturally and linguistically diverse business owners.

“I understand there are cultural challenges and vastly different laws in other parts of the world, but it is incumbent on all businesses operating in Australia to understand and apply Australian laws.

“To that end, the Fair Work Ombudsman is here to help with free advice and resources in a range of languages.”

CUB facing beer boycott in support of workers

Pubs across Australia have stopped serving beers supplied by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) as an act of support for workers sacked by the company.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) is urging beer drinkers to join the boycott and support the workers who were told in June that their jobs at CUB’s Abbotsford brewery had been re-contracted to a new service subcontractor, Programmed-Skilled Maintenance, and that they would have to reapply to keep them.

However, the new contracts did not include the conditions of the previous contracts and involved pay cuts of up to 65 per cent. They refused and now find themselves unemployed.

Industrial action against CUB has included weekly rallies outside the Melbourne headquarters of the company by the AMWU as well as the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

The beer boycott sprang up through a social media campaign and pubs participating in it include The Lincoln in Melbourne, and the Cecil Hotel in Queensland.

“For anyone drinking a CUB beer or cider, just consider, ‘Do you think it’s fair the company has sacked 55 workers and forced them to reapply?’” AWMU assistant state secretary Craig Kelly told the New Daily.

CUB, which is controlled by South African multinational SABMiller, claims to have no direct contractual relationship with the sacked workers. The issue of pay and conditions, it says, is the responsibility of the new subcontractor.

The company claims that unions and workers were informed of the new arrangements in January and that some of the sacked workers have taken up the new contracts.

“Unions have been aggressively targeting CUB and its brands over the last few weeks trying to enforce their terms and conditions on an independent contractor which provides workers to CUB,” a company spokesperson told The New Daily.

“CUB acknowledges that any change of contract or commercial decision can impact people and their families, which is why the previous contractor and their employees were told six months ago that their contract would end. All entitlements were paid by the contractor, including redundancies, pay in lieu of notice and leave entitlements.”

Coles wins injunction to stop picket line

Coles has won a temporary Supreme Court junction to stop workers picketing a cold storage warehouse in Melbourne.

As AAP reports, the 650 workers walked off the job indefinitely on Tuesday and are demanding increased pay and improved job security.

The workers, who are represented by the National Union of Workers (NUW) are making the demands of Polar Fresh, which operates the Truganina facility on behalf of Coles.

Paul O’Grady, acting for Coles, told the court the picket line was preventing trucks from exiting not only the Truganina site but also other nearby sites at Derrimut and Laverton North, which had been set up to allow the business to keep operating.

Workers from those extra sites are not involved in the dispute.

“This is a specific targeting of Coles trucks,” O’Grady told Court on Tuesday afternoon. “One can infer it is to apply pressure to Polar Fresh through Coles.”

While the court heard the industrial action at Truganina was approved by the Fair Work Commission,  Justice Michael McDonald ordered the workers remove the picket line.

The matter will be revisited on Monday.

As the ABC reports, Curtly Tuala from the NUW earlier said the workers need better job security.

“We want a zero-casual site. We want a sense of security for the workers,” he said.

“They deserve a sense of security because we know what it would enable the workers to do, looking after a family and your kids and providing for them.”

Image: SMH

Unions step up action against CUB

The union movement has vowed to hold weekly rallies outside the Melbourne headquarters of Carlton United Breweries (CUB) in support of 54 sacked maintenance workers.

As reported by the Guardian, last month the workers from CUB’s Abbotsford brewery were told their jobs had been re-contracted to a new service subcontractor, Programmed-Skilled Maintenance, and that they would have to reapply to keep them.

However, the new contracts did not include the conditions of the previous contracts and involved pay cuts of up to 65 per cent. They refused and now find themselves unemployed.

AMWU member Peter Kerr-Chapman said workers realised this issue went beyond CUB and brewing to the wage standards of skilled maintenance workers across manufacturing.

“If CUB get away with this, it wouldn’t be good for anyone,” he said.

“Manufacturing is already in a rough spot and the last thing we need are employers sacking people to wind back conditions won over many decades.”

CUB, which is controlled by South African multinational SABMiller, claims to have no direct contractual relationship with the sacked workers. The issue of pay and conditions, it says, is the responsibility of the new subcontractor.

The rallies involve AMWU and ETU members along with supporters from other unions.

Daily Drinks workers secure new enterprise agreement

AMWU members at Daily Drinks, a Sydney-based subsidiary of Nathan Lyon, are set to have their skills recognised as part of their new enterprise agreement.

Over 100 members at Daily Drinks recently voted up the new agreement with the extra taste of nearly a year of backpay on top of an annual wage rise of 2.75 per cent.

But their biggest concern is getting their production skills formally recognised, which will give workers a clear career path and incentive to work for higher wage levels.

“For now we’ve maintained our current classification structure but we’ve given them a grace period for the life of this agreement to work with us to get it restructured and improved,” said delegate Glen Cardilini.

“If they don’t move on it properly with us, we’ll make them bring in a registered training organisation as we have the right to do.”

Daily Drinks makes ice treats and juices including Zooper Doopers and Prima.

Cardilini said negotiations were at a stalemate late last year but the company caved after workers rejected an inferior company offer 111 votes to five and then approved a Protected Action Ballot to take industrial action.

“Soon after a new boss was appointed and he said they would ‘re-consider’ the offer, which ultimately led to the new agreement,” said  delegate Brett Hinde.

“We held our ground by sticking together and we were able to achieve what we wanted.”

Union meetings will be permitted in paid time and Daily Drinks also agreed to automatic payroll deductions of union fees.

NSW Assistant Secretary (Food and Confectionary) Heidi Kaushal said the agreement also included the right to access leave for medical or legal matters resulting from domestic violence.

Workers in agriculture, food processing allegedly being exploited

Foreign workers in the fruit picking and food processing industries are enduring slave-like conditions, according to an ABC Four Corners report.

In the program that aired last night, it was alleged that the exploitation of workers on 417 working holiday visas is widespread.

The program claimed workers are working long hours, being subjected to verbal abuse, experiencing sexual harassment, and being underpaid.

In addition, the program said there is a black labour market operating. Labour contractors are hiring foreigners on invalid or expired visas and paying them as little as $3.95 an hour.

The program alleged Griffith chicken processor, Baiada is one company which uses labour hire companies which exploit workers. It claimed two workers were paid $18 an hour even though the award is $25 an hour.

Workers told Four Corners they were not allowed to stop to drink water or go to the toilet for long periods of time.

Baiada, Australia’s largest poultry supplier, has annual revenue of $1.3b. The company’s chickens are sold by Coles and Woolworths and it supplies Red Rooster and KFC.

Following the program, the Victorian Government said it will begin an inquiry into labour exploitation in the second half of the year.

"We're just in the process of putting some terms of reference together and putting a committee together to actually do the investigation," Victoria's Minister for Industrial Relations Natalie Hutchins said.

"We need to get the message out loud and clear that every unethical labour contractor that's operating needs to know that these activities won't be tolerated in Victoria."

Image: ABC

Former Darrell Lea workers to finally receive redundancy pay

An agreement has been reached between Darrell Lea’s owners and the union representing former workers who have been denied about $400,000 in redundancy pay.

On Saturday, the ABC’s AM reported that six Darrell Lea workers could've been denied redundancy payments after shelf company DL Employment, which had hired the workers, was put in liquidation.

Today it was announced that an agreement had been reached after Darrell Lea’s owners and the AMWU spent six hours in negotiationt.

"Darrell Lea has now committed to the AMWU that they will pay 100 per cent of the outstanding entitlements to this group of workers today," the ABC reports the AMWU’s Tim Ayres as saying today.

The entitlements reportedly range from about $50,000 to $90,000.

"It will make a real difference to their lives, the security of knowing these payments are coming through," said Ayres.

Darrell Lea moved manufacturing operations from its former Kogarah site to Ingleburn in 2012, the same year the Quinn family bought the company’s manufacturing operations and brand. Lea had been put into voluntary administration, and the Quinn’s purchase saved 80 jobs.

It was ordered by the Fair Work Commission in January to pay the workers their entitlements, as they could not reasonably be expected to work at the newer factory, which isabout 34 km away


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.

Fair Work to facilitate talks between Simplot and AMWU

The Fair Work Commission will facilitate talks between vegetable processor Simplot, and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

Vegetable processing workers at Simplot’s Tasmanian and NSW plants voted in favour of industrial action over the company’s pay offer last month as they believed that the company’s pay offer would remove conditions for casual workers.

AMWU said that while it would be a last resort, it is still prepared to take industrial action which could include strikes and overtime bans.

Managing director of Simplot, Terry O’Brien told ABC News that he was hopeful that the talks will help resolve the issue, and in turn avoid any industrial action as it would impact heavily on the operations of the processor as harvesting is currently at its peak.

Last year, Simplot’s Devonport and Bathurst plants were under threat of closure due to a very competitive industry and unsustainably high costs.

The company was then given a lifeline in the form of new contracts with Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths over the next three years.


New Senate should let carbon tax go: Teys

Meat processor Teys Australia has urged the new Senate to allow the federal government to fulfill its election pledge to repeal the carbon tax.

The Land reports that Teys’ general manager Tom Maguire made a statement yesterday claiming a “direct link” between scrapping the tax and increased competitiveness.

“It’s quite clear that manufacturers are closing down across the country, due in part to unnecessary costs and charges on business,” said Maguire.

“While eliminating the carbon tax is only scratching the surface of what needs to be done, it’s an important first step and will stimulate business investment.”

Other concerns identified by Teys included industrial relations and opening new markets.

Teys employs 4,500 across the country, with several sites in regional Australia.

There is a record 18 crossbenchers in the new Senate, which will sit for the first time at the beginning of next month.

The Australian Financial Review points out that the success of bills repealing the former government’s carbon tax are not guaranteed success, following a series of strident comments from Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer.

The PUP has three Senators.

Image: https://www.itbdigital.com/