Striking food manufacturing workers from Pampas were joined be their families and supporters from across Melbourne to take part in a family funday which was held in West Footscray today.
More than 50 United Workers Union (UWU) members from Pampas began strike action on Monday 21 November following the company’s refusal to provide direct hire, permanent jobs coupled with a wage offer that fell well short of inflation.
Some workers from the site have worked for an agency on casual contracts for up to 20 years, missing out on benefits such as sick pay, annual leave and long service leave.
The strike is likely to impact the supply of fruit mince pies to Bakers Delight along with Pampas branded frozen pastry and other brands such as Helga’s wraps.
Pampas is wholly owned by the billion-dollar food manufacturer Goodman Fielder, which is in turn owned by Wilmar International, a Singapore-based agribusiness which largely generates its billion-dollar profits through palm oil cultivation throughout South East Asia.
Wilmar’s chief executive, the notable Kuok Khoon Hong, worth US$3.1 billion (approximately $4.7 billion), is Singapore’s eighth richest person and nephew of Robert Kuok, one of the world’s wealthiest people.
Meanwhile Pampas workers are on $27.61-per-hour and are seeking to increase that rate to $29.26 in order to keep up with Melbourne’s soaring inflation which is currently tracking at more than seven percent.
UWU National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the union was used to a bit of adversarial action during industrial disputes but said local Pampas bosses had crossed a line.
“During the course of the protected action we have seen local Pampas bosses write to residential neighbours encouraging them to ring the police on the peacefully striking workers,” Mr Kennedy said.
“We have seen those same bosses tie up emergency services by calling the firies on contained barrel fires that had been burning over the course of a week without issue, tying up our valuable and already stressed emergency responders.
“But worst of all they have completely disrespected the workers from the Pampas plant by refusing permanent employment for people who have worked on the line for up to 20 years.
“It’s time Goodman Fielder and the big bosses at Wilmar stopped letting this dispute spiral out of control and intervene before local bosses do something else stupid.”