AUSTRALIA’S biggest grain-processing plant, Manildra Group’s Shoalhaven Starches, is continuing operations as normal despite a dispute with Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members.
The dispute has led to a lock-out of 13 electricians at the site at Bomaderry near Nowra on the south coast of New South Wales.
The lock-out has come in response to what the ETU said were limited work bans after 10 months of negotiations stalled as members sought better pay and conditions.
“This is extreme action against these workers who are only looking to give security to their families,” ETU organiser Stewart Edward said.
“These workers are highly skilled, highly knowledgeable, and very dedicated and loyal to the company.
“They keep the plant running 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
“Manildra Group is a multi-billion company; this is not some small mum-and-dad outfit,” Mr Edwards said
“The question is: If it’s alright for these workers to look after this family-owned company, why isn’t it OK to look after the workers?”
In its response, Manildra Group has stated it is family-owned Australian company which values its employees, with generations of families working at Bomaderry.
“We are currently working in good faith with union representatives and employees to renew our enterprise agreement on site.
“Employees working under this agreement receive above-award pay and benefits, and current proposals by Manildra Group offer increases in wages and conditions.”
The company alleges said its proposals have been misrepresented by the ETU in statements to the media and membership, and that it wanted its employees to have all the information they needed to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.
“We are ready and willing to resume negotiations at any time with the ETU to reach an agreement, so we can welcome our employees back to work.”
Shoalhaven Starches is Australia’s biggest producer of ethanol, and is a major exporter of gluten made at the plant which trade sources consumes around 880,000 tonnes of wheat per annum.
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