GRAINCORP ACTION ON THE HORIZON
GrainCorp grain handlers will vote in the coming days on whether to take protected industrial action in response to a below-inflation wage offer just weeks after the company declared a half year profit of $100 million after tax.
Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) Acting Victorian Secretary Liam O’Brien said GrainCorp was treating its grain handlers like second-class citizens.
“Grain handlers accepted low pay rises two years ago after GrainCorp cried poor, but it then turned around and boosted executive salaries by between 3% and 15%,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The company is booming and it is time that the loyal workforce got a fair deal.”
After initially offering a pay freeze in the current round of Enterprise Agreement negotiations, GrainCorp is now offering increases of 1.8% a year, wants to remove a provision that there can be no forced redundancies, and wants to be able to pay casuals and labour hire workers less than the permanent workforce.
The company is using data from the 2011 Census, showing it pays above the median wage in small towns, to attempt to justify its offer. Figures in the Census take into account those who are unemployed, which makes those figures irrelevant to the matters on the table now.
“Workers for GrainCorp are being asked to go backwards and accept provisions that will damage their job security. It is difficult not to come to the conclusion that GrainCorp is taking advantage of the precarious nature of work in regional communities,” Mr O’Brien said.
“These are people who support their communities, and play a vital role in the Australian economy. It is a disgrace to suggest their wages should be driven down.”
Protected action ballots will be mailed to AWU members tomorrow (Friday 7 July) asking them to agree to a series of stoppages of varying duration and some bans on overtime, the spread of hours worked and on staggered lunch breaks. Grain handlers work across Victoria at sites in the Western District, Central Victoria, the North East, the Southern Mallee and the Wimmera.
“All grain handlers want is to see GrainCorp back at the negotiating table with realistic pay increases and commitments to improve job security for the workforce,” Mr O’Brien said.