AUSTRALIA: Fear that Goodman Fielder strikes could spread state-wide
Officials at Goodman Fielder are concerned about the potential effects of the "stopwork meetings" being held this week by members of the National Union of Workers (NUW) in all of the company's Victorian plants.
The food giant, whose brands include Uncle Toby's and Meadow Lea, is facing considerable employee unrest due to its recent restructure of employment conditions and there are fears that the strikes at two factories in West Footscray and Port Melbourne on Monday could spread state-wide.
According to the union, the company's offer of a choice between retrenchment and the acceptance of an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) to around 60 store merchandisers is a blatant attempt to reduce union presence. Charlie Donnelly, state secretary for the NUW, added that the arrangement would lead to drastic pay cuts.
Jenny Tear, corporate relations manager at Goodman Fielder, confirmed that "if [the merchandisers] elect to stay with their individual units they will be made redundant." The company argues that a restructure of the merchandising division was necessary to create a more centralised business unit, to be called Goodman Fielder Field Operations.
The 90 workers who left the processing lines of the Meadow Lea factories on Monday afternoon are expected to return to work today.
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