Workers locked out of a major dairy processing plant in Victoria’s north have resoundingly rejected the factory’s latest EBA offer.
More than 70 workers locked out of Parmalat’s Echuca site without pay since January 18 voted against the factory’s ‘‘unfair deal’’ on Friday.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union food secretary Tom Hale said the deal failed to address a large number of concerns relating to wages, leave, redundancy and contractor agreements.
‘‘These workers just want a fair go and to be treated with respect in the negotiating process so that a decent agreement can be achieved and everyone can get back to work,’’ Mr Hale said.
The proposal, supervised by the Fair Work Commission, was handed down in a secret ballot.
It was voted down by all union members.
They are calling for a two per cent wage increase during the next three years and a $6000 sign-on bonus.
They also want penalties included in redundancy packages, changes to public holiday rosters and better regulation around the use of contract maintenance workers.
Nick Edwards, who has worked at the plant for 26 years, slammed Parmalat’s offer, saying he struggled on his wage.
‘‘I’ve felt the pinch in the last 12 months. The bills keep going up but our wages aren’t growing,’’ Mr Edwards said.
‘‘We voted it down because our wage is below CPI, there’s no real protection for full-time workers over casualisation, insecurity for maintenance workers having their work taken off them by contractors.’’
Parmalat’s chief executive officer Craig Garvin said the Echuca site had been uncompetitive for most of its 20-year history and accepting the union’s proposal would not improve its market share.
He described the EBA offer — including a 1.3 per cent/year wage increase — as ‘‘fair and reasonable’’.
‘‘We are well aware of the financial and emotional burden the site closure has put on the families,’’ Mr Garvin said.
‘‘We are simply trying to put reasonable wording in the EBA that allows us to schedule and maintain our plant to meet market requirements in a timely manner.’’
Workers at Parmalat’s Gippsland plant were locked out for close to a fortnight last year over an EBA dispute.
They struck a deal with Parmalat after 11 days on the picket line.
Mr Garvin said he met with union workers no less than 13 times before the Echuca lockout.