11:35 am, Thursday 1 December, 2011
After weeks of striking for better working conditions, workers of the largest poultry manufacturer finally got what they wanted.
The company has agreed to a bargaining agreement which will improve workers’ pay and conditions. The poultry company previously said that it would not agree to a wage increase of more than 3 percent for permanent employees. Drivers will also be covered by the bargaining agreement and will receive an injury rate of one hundred percent. Other workers will get an eight percent increase in pay over two years. Contract as well as casual workers will also receive the same salary as those received by permanent employees.
Two hundred hours of paid union training will be given annually to union delegates. They were also given permission to give assistance to other chicken processing companies without their salaries being affected.
In 2010, a 34-year old worker was decapitated when he was sucked into a chicken packing machine while working at the plant. According to the National Union of Workers, the victim has just finished a four-hour shift when he was asked to return to work and re-clean a pack line area. During an investigation, authorities found out that the company breached occupational health and safety laws by not giving attention and controlling the risks in the work area.
This incident was one of the workers’ inspirations in staging the 13-day demonstration. National Union of Workers Victorian state secretary Tim Kennedy said that the result of the workers’ fight for better pay and working conditions was even better than expected. He also said that the success wouldn’t have happened without the combined effort of the people.