The workers that make well-known brands such as Old El Paso and Latina Fresh pasta will start indefinite strike action today after negotiations over pay and conditions broke down. Workers are members of the United Workers Union (UWU) and have been negotiating with the company since the beginning of this year. There are approximately 150 workers at the factory.
General Mills is one of the largest food manufacturing companies in the world, owned by a US company that made over $26 billion in 2019-2020. Over the last decade, workers at Rooty Hill – General Mills’ only Australian factory – have experienced increased casualisation and sluggish wage outcomes. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic these essential food workers worked extra-long hours to keep up with increased demand. Negotiations should reflect their hard work through this high risk, high stress period.
However General Mills came out swinging with a plan to vastly reduce workers’ rights and conditions, increase obligations for weekend work, no new permanent jobs and a final wage offer of 2%, 1.25%, 1.25% over three years, with no back pay. General Mills’ global profits have increased by almost 40% over the last five years.
Many workers at General Mills have been employed for decades and helped the company build a large and profitable Australian operation. Casual labour hire workers, including many who have been stuck in indirect insecure employment for more than five years, have moved through two or more different agencies and desperately want to be employed directly by General Mills in secure jobs.
Quotes attributable to Susie Allison, UWU National Director of Food and Beverages
“Workers’ demands are simple: a fair and respectful wage increase and access to permanent secure jobs for all workers.
“Insecure work hurts workers and families, having a pathway to secure, permanent jobs should be a minimum standard at a large and profitable company like General Mills. The way the company is behaving is an absolute disgrace.”
Quotes attributable to workers that want to remain anonymous for fear of recrimination:
“We worked so hard during the pandemic, risking our health and the health of our families. All our efforts were not valued but General Mills – they made a huge profit and are treating us like we are nothing.
“We are essential food workers. We kept producing food for everyone during the pandemic and now the company thinks I’m worth only 51 cents more! I am so angry, everything is so much more expensive and I struggle to pay my bills and buy food. The company made a fortune and this is what they think of us.”
WHEN: 8 am TODAY, Friday 4 June
WHERE: 16 Kellogg Road, Rooty Hill NSW
WHAT: Food workers strike indefinitely for secure jobs and a pay increase.
WHO: UWU spokesperson Tom Sayers
Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]