Tuesday 28 May, 2024

Unions' peace offer to prevent crush crisis rejected by Wilmar

Efforts by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU), and Australian Workers' Union (AWU) to resolve a bargaining deadlock with Wilmar Sugar and avert a crisis during the crush season have been arrogantly dismissed by the multinational.

The combined unions offer presented at today’s Fair Work Commission feedback meeting included significant concessions in a bid to keep the crush on track. The union offer included reducing the initial wage claim of 28% to 18% over 3 years, they also agreed to remove all other outstanding claims on the table, in exchange for one claim from each union being accepted. If agreed by Wilmar management the unions made a commitment to halt all industrial action effective immediately, and support the process taken in determining the outcome of the vote.

ETU state organiser Liam Sharkey emphasised that the unions' offer, supported by the combined unions Single Bargaining Unit, placed the responsibility on Wilmar to act in good faith.

“Wilmar has refused to negotiate in good faith, and they will now put the crush under severe pressure. They have walked away from a reasonable compromise and basically flicked hardworking millworkers and their communities the bird.” Mr Sharkey said.

“Not only have they refused to even consider the union offer, but they have also thrown fuel on the fire and resolved to take their insulting offer of 14.25% over 3.5 years to a direct vote of workers. And further in response to our members continuing protected industrial action, Wilmar have also inflamed an already volatile situation by threatening workers who participate in partial work bans, that they will not get paid at all.” He said.

“It should be remembered that during previous bargaining rounds when workers accepted as little as 1% pay increases, promises were made by Wilmar to rectify the situation when profits improved. Guess what profits have improved, yet Wilmar have reneged. We have a clear message for Wilmar, your lack of integrity and unwillingness to make good promises you made to workers in previous bargaining rounds will not be forgotten. The contempt you are showing your hardworking staff, and their communities has already tarnished your reputation and this latest act of bastardry will trash it even more.”

“Our members will continue to fight for what is right and industrial action will take place across Wilmar’s eight sugar mills. We have massive community support, they understand the pressure workers are under and they support our cause, they will hold Wilmar and its corporate masters responsible for any adverse outcomes suffered during this year’s crush.” Mr Sharkey said.

For more, please call Liam Sharkey 0498 278 976 or Andrew Irvine 0429 535 860