Food manufacturing workers from Pampas in Melbourne today rallied outside one of the pastry makers biggest customers – Bakers Delight – to highlight the company’s unwillingness to provide secure work.
More than 50 United Workers Union (UWU) members from Pampas began strike action on Monday 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 had 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 was 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 were on $27.61-per-hour and were seeking to increase that rate to $29.26 in order to keep up with Melbourne’s soaring inflation which was tracking at more than seven percent.
UWU official Andy Giles said it should not matter which company’s name was on the top of a payslip, all workers doing the same job at the same site should receive the same pay and benefits.
“This strike is unusual in that the main motivation for taking action is to fight for the recognition of their agency-casual colleagues who are not on this agreement,” Mr Giles said.
“We are obviously pursuing pay rises as well but it’s significant that Pampas workers are out here taking the risk and the loss of income to ensure the futures of the people they work alongside.
“It’s pretty admirable what workers are doing and really highlights the difference in the behaviour of workers versus greedy multi-nationals and their grotesque billion dollar profits which continue to rise at the expense of ordinary folk the world over.”
Workers at Pampas resolved to continue strike action if an in-principle agreement was not reached.
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