Contributed from Victoria
Nearly 100 workers at the McCormick Foods factory in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton have been on strike since 26 February. The reason? Management had imposed a five-year freeze on wages and now plans to slash penalty rates and conditions.
These workers are members of the United Workers Union (UWU), which is behind them in the industrial action they are taking.
The company had refused to negotiate a new agreement since the previous one expired in 2016. Now, it is trying to entrench zero wage increases, cuts to overtime penalty payment rates, and take away paid meal breaks.
On top of this, they want to impose a cap of 20 years on redundancy payments, in a workplace where many have been there longer than this. Increasing automation over the last decade has already seen jobs go.
McCormick Foods Australia is part of a US-based Fortune 1,000 corporation, and one of the largest producers of herbs and spices in the world, with an annual revenue of more than $4 billion.
The Clayton plant produces for McDonald’s, KFC, Hungry Jacks and Nandos. It also supplies supermarket chains.
The workers are calling to be treated with some respect.
A big part of the strategy is to build public support.
This dispute is important. Another major employer has set out to destroy decent jobs and take advantage of a labour market. If these moves are not rebuffed, all jobs in Australia are threatened. This would bring serious social and economic damage.
The wellbeing of all is far more important than amassing the fortunes of individual corporations. In any case, companies like McCormick Foods are still amassing huge profits and can easily absorb the cost of treating their workers properly.
There is still an online petition and supporters of the McCormick workers can sign it by going to this link.