Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

SPC workers take action

About 20 SPC Ardmona workers manned a picket line at the gate to the Kyabram factory as part of industrial action.

December 19, 2012 4:20am

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union members staged protected industrial action at SPC Ardmona's Kyabram site last Thursday.

Workers at SPC Ardmona’s Kyabram factory held a day of industrial action last Thursday.

Members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union took protected industrial action in the form of two eight-hour shift stoppages in support of claims being negotiated as part of a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

About 20 workers manned a picket line at the gate to the factory on Thursday morning.

After six months of negotiations they say the company has not yet come up with an acceptable offer.

AMWU state organiser Jason Hefford said members want to negotiate a deal with a reasonable pay rise of about four per cent while maintaining their working conditions.

‘‘The previous agreement expired on June 30, 2012 and the company is offering zero per cent to December 31, then two per cent from January 1, 2013 and two per cent from January 1, 2014,’’ Mr Hefford said.

‘‘They also want to cap redundancy payments for any new staff at 52 weeks, instead of 104 weeks, and take away paid meal breaks which is a condition currently not used at this site anyway.’’

SPC Ardmona managing director Vince Pinneri said in September staff had voted against accepting the company’s initial offer and had also rejected two further offers.

‘‘While we respect our employees rights to take protected industrial action we are naturally disappointed they have escalated negotiations in this way. Actions like this have an impact not only on our business but also the broader Kyabram community,’’ Mr Pinneri said.

‘‘It is particularly disappointing at this time of year and in such a tough business climate.’’

Mr Pinneri said SPC Ardmona is committed to continuing negotiating to establish a new agreement.

Forklift driver Greg Shaw said staff had undertaken additional training and put forward ideas.

‘‘Production has gone up by probably about 30 to 33 per cent in the last two to three years. (Consumer price index) is currently about 2.8 per cent but they are trying to take everything away from us,’’ Mr Shaw said.

Production worker Ken Johnstone, who has worked for the company for 33 years, said it’s the first time staff have walked off the job while he has been working there.

‘‘Everything is going up but our wages aren’t. We just want to catch up.’’

Quality controller Danielle Noble said staff want to see the company move forward but do not want to lose their conditions. Mr Hefford said the union had asked the company about negotiating on Thursday but this request was rejected.

‘‘I expect further negotiations will now take place sometime in the new year,’’ he said.

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