Meat workers dig in on claim
AUSTRALASIAN Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) officials yesterday met with the management of JBS Australia to try to negotiate an end to continuing industrial action at the Dinmore Meatworks.
One shift has already been lost this week and another is set to be lost on Thursday night as the industrial campaign, which began in May, continues to slow production at Australia's largest meat plant.
The parties remain divided on the detail of a new enterprise bargaining agreement, with the union seeking a 4% pay rise for workers while the company holds firm with a 3% offer.
While AMIEU action has been limited to four-hour strikes, JBS has responded by cancelling full 9½-hour shifts for workers during the stoppages.
JBS Australia director and manager of corporate and regulatory affairs John Berry said the company had no option but to cancel full shifts.
"We've been consistent that when the union announces a four-hour stoppage, that doesn't make it viable to run a shift," Mr Berry said.
"Therefore that shift is lost and people are losing pay by not working. Unfortunately, each four-hour notice will result in a shift being lost."
AMIEU state secretary Brian Crawford dismissed the reasons put forward by JBS, instead suggesting the move was designed to punish workers for taking action.
"We don't accept that," Mr Crawford said. "For them to say it not viable is their call.
"But the bottom line is we say the company is locking their employees out because they are engaging in protected industrial action.
"Because of that, the company is choosing to lock them out for the remainder of the day."
Mr Berry said he hoped the meeting would result in an end to the industrial campaign but conceded his companies position hadn't changed since the parties last met.
"No, the company is sticking to the 3% position," he said.
"We've given the workers a lot of information about inflation rates and in our view the 3% is a good offer in the current economic climate."
That news won't please union officials, who have vowed to continue the industrial campaign as long as workers supported it.
"Our position is clearly on the table and we are open to the company bringing an alternative position," Mr Crawford said.
"We have strong endorsement from our members to continue the campaign and we will do that."