More than 150 workers and their families from the American-owned Accolade Wines Berri Estates will hold a community rally today in response to the company’s attempts to remove worker protections and crush conditions.
Accolade, which was bought out by multi-billion-dollar bankers Carlyle Group in 2018, proposed workers should take cuts to hours and superannuation, while accepting higher levels of casualisation and labour hire.
The workers overwhelmingly rejected the company’s push – 95 percent of participants in the protected action ballot voted in favour of taking strike action.
United Workers Union food and beverage organiser Ben Reichstein said workers in Berri were resolute in fighting for decent jobs in the Riverland for years to come.
“Some of the workers at Accolade’s Berri Estates have worked at the site for decades and have seen the company change hands many times during that period, they haven’t accepted cuts then and they won’t be accepting cuts now,” Reichstein said.
“Workers aren’t asking for big pay rises, or special treatment but they will not tolerate the company attacking their hard-earned retirement savings and job security.
“I wouldn’t underestimate the determination of Riverland workers to stand up for their community and neither should the global investment firm that owns this company.”
The 24-hour strike will begin at 9am today. Further action may take place in the event Accolade refuses to bargain in good faith with workers.
A worker from Accolade Wines said: “We feel used and abused, under appreciated. They stand up and tell us we’ve made heaps of money and hit our targets yet when it comes time for bargaining, they give us nothing.
“Everyone around Berri knows someone who works here. We’re the biggest employer in the region and we spend our money locally. This will definitely have a negative effect locally.”