Striking workers at the Pampas factory in West Footscray, Melbourne, are standing strong three weeks into an indefinite strike.
The members of the United Workers Union (UWU) make products such as puff pastry, pies and wraps. They are fighting for a 6 per cent per year pay rise, plus permanent jobs for labour hire casuals.
Pampas is part of the giant Goodman Fielder company, which operates more than 40 plants across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the Pacific, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia. Last financial year it reported a statutory profit of $3.4 billion.
Almost all the 71 permanent production workers are on strike, as are many of the 50 casuals.
One worker, George, told Solidarity: “The dispute is about money—the 6 per cent—plus security for the casuals who’ve been here a very long time. We want them to have permanent jobs.
“Management’s offer is 4 per cent a year with a sign-on bonus of $1475.”
Another striker added: “But their answer on job security is a No. And this is a multi-million dollar company.”
The company is so devious that it gave people living near the plant $100 vouchers, while encouraging them to report picket line noise to the police.
“The neighbours have been great. They gave us the vouchers and said they didn’t want dirty money,” the striker said.
The UWU says many of its members at Pampas are migrant workers earning only $27 an hour despite working full-time on casual labour-hire contracts.
“This means that these workers have no job security and have worse pay and conditions than permanent workers. Pampas workers have been on these insecure casual contracts for up to 20 years.”
UWU members in a warehouse at the plant are continuing to work because their EBA does not expire until next year.
It’s another clear case of the restrictive anti-union laws and enterprise bargaining weakening workers by banning solidarity action that could shut down the company.
The UWU has organised stunts outside Zambrero stores that use Pampas wraps. But bringing out the warehouse members and organising a hard picket at the gates is what’s needed to bring the company to heel.
Bad laws need to be broken.
Visit the picket line at 2 Currajong Street, West Footscray.