||Issue No. 209||20 February 2004|
Regions To Be Cheerful
Interview: Trading in Principle
Unions: While We Were Away
Politics: Follow the Leader
Bad Boss: Safety Recidivist Fingered
Economics: Casualisation Shrouded In Myths
History: Worker Control Harco Style
Review: Other Side Of The Harbour
A Casual Affair
Latham Is A Bad Man
"Shameful" Action Pays Dividends
More than 1000 food and maintenance workers employed by SPC Ardmona in the Goulburn Valley stood firm to beat off "disappointing" company EBA offers, backed by the Liberal Party’s propoganda machine.
The Libs blasted the actions of employees at the company's Shepparton and Mooropna plants as "shameful", predicting their incomes would rot away, along with those of farmers.
"Unions are demanding that SPC Ardmona workers receive a pay increase, increased job security and a 36-hour week. Basically, they want more money for less work," propagandists claimed in a statement endorsed by Victorian state director Julian Sheezel.
Two separate EBAs saw around 1500 process workers get 13.5 percent increases over three years and the maintenance workers, represented by the AWU, AMWU, FEDFA and CEPU, sign off on lesser wage increases in return for eight additional rostered days off each year.
AWU national secretary, Bill Shorten, pointed out SPC Ardmona maintenance workers had never struck during harvest time before. In fact, he said, they had helped keep the company afloat by volunteering for pay cuts in 1990.
AMWU representative, Ray Campbell, said job security had been the key issue for his members.
"They wanted the capacity to move employees anywhere around the Goulburn Valley which is a pretty big place. We were also aware that the company has been in acquisition mode," Campbell said.
Campbell said that objection had been overcome and his members had retained important voluntary redundancy provisions.
Both union officials blamed SPC Ardmona, headed by aggressively anti-union managing director, Nigel Garrett, for the stoppages.
Campbell said everyone thought they had agreement after months of negotiations until, prior to Christmas, SPC came back with an entirely new negotiating position. He called the approach "very disappointing".
Shorten said the stoppages could have been avoided if the company had realised it was the workforce that made its brand its brand so important.
"By taking legally protected industrial action for the last six days these workers have had a victory that will change the way they work at SPC forever," Shorten said.
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