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New South Wales and Victorian food workers at SunRice Group will stop work for two days following the company’s attempts to wind back basic conditions and rights.

From 6am this morning more than 300 workers from SunRice and its subsidiaries CopRice and Australian Grain Storage (AGS) will take strike action from six sites across NSW and Victoria.

Workers are seeking a four percent payrise, which equates to approximately an $1-an-hour raise.

SunRice recorded a consolidated group revenue of more than $1 billion last financial year, which resulted in a net profit of $18.3 million, according to its 2021 annual report.

United Workers Union (UWU) Food and Beverage Lead Tom Czech said SunRice’s attempts to cut workers out of the bargaining process was insulting to the people who had kept food on supermarket shelves throughout the pandemic.

“Workers were supposed to meet with company management yesterday in an attempt to resolve the dispute which has dragged on now for more than eight months,” Mr Czech said.

“However, the billion-dollar company decided it would be a good idea to cut workers out of the meetings, which, for obvious reasons, is something the union would not abide.

“SunRice is a company which continues to grow and record profits but is refusing modest wage rises for the very workers who have contributed to its successes.

United Workers Union understands that the company paid to fly three senior managers to Leeton to meet at 8am on Tuesday February 1, only to decline due to the Union insisting workers be present at the meeting.

Some of the conditions that SunRice attempted to remove from the agreement include special leave for volunteer firefighters and domestic violence victims, and for paid time to donate blood.

“Ironically, SunRice claims its core values and behaviours to be ‘integrity, dynamic, collaborative, innovative and community, while in reality they are quite the opposite,’ he said.*

“If SunRice wants to truly show its commitment to the regional communities in which it operates it should treat the workers, who happen to be core members of their communities, with more respect.

“Throughout the pandemic, these workers have done double shifts and heaps of overtime to process bumper harvests. They are considered essential workers and should be rewarded for their sacrifice, not insulted.”

Some casual workers at SunRice are paid less than what is on offer under the award.

Workers will stop work in the following locations:

  • SunRice, CopRice and AGS in Leeton, New South Wales
  • SunRice and AGS in Deniliquin, New South Wales
  • CopRice in Coleambally, New South Wales (no local spokesperson available)
  • CopRice in Cobden, Victoria
  • CopRice in Tongala, Victoria (no local spokesperson available)
  • CopRice in Wangaratta, Victoria (no local spokesperson available)

During the industrial action workers will adhere to the COVID Safe Plan in place at the sites.

*Page 42 of the SunRice Group annual report



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