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Today, United Workers Union (UWU) members at a Dandenong medical and pharmaceutical distribution centre began strike action in pursuit of a pay increase to help keep up with the escalating cost-of-living.

Workers have been bargaining with the company, Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (API) since March in an effort to secure an agreement which contains a wage increase aligned with inflation and would prevent agency casual workers from getting paid significantly less than the permanent workforce of around 190 workers.

API is wholly owned by retail giant Wesfarmers and predominantly supplies Priceline and other pharmacy stores.

Wesfarmers recorded a profit of $2.35 billion last financial year, while the group’s chief executive Rob Scott pocketed $8 million in that same year.

UWU National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the company was swimming in cash and if Wesfarmers could afford to give their CEO a $1 million increase in wages year-on-year, they could afford to give logistics workers a $2.25-an-hour pay rise.

“Wesfarmers CEO Rob Scott earns in four days what a regular logistics worker earns in a year,” Mr Kennedy said.

“While it is a matter for the Board to agree to pay Mr Scott more than $20k-a-day, it is unconscionable for the company to now offer their workers, who showed up throughout the pandemic to ensure that the community was kept safe with RATS and masks, a wage increase which fell well short of the cost-of-living increases.

“On top of that we have agency casuals in the same shed, doing the same job as the permanent API workers and getting paid minimum wage.

“Workers don’t take strike action lightly, particularly when they’ll lose income during a cost-of-living crisis, but they also understand that their wages going backwards while the bosses reap huge rewards is unacceptable.”

Workers at API begun striking at 3:00am today and were resolved in continuing the strike until the company returned with a more equitable offer. UWU had ensured that emergency equipment supplies would not be impacted by allowing some workers to attend during the strike.


UWU Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]