NUW members in Melbourne’s west battling the world’s biggest multi-national meat monopoly for decent wages and conditions
140 NUW members at Swift Australia, a subsidiary of JBS, the world’s largest multinational meat conglomerate with head offices in Brazil and USA, have been locked out for more than 5 weeks because they refused to accept an EBA that increases working hours up to 12 hours a day, wipes out shift and overtime penalties and delivers a measly 2% annual wage rise.
The lowly paid workers want a modest annual 4% wage increase, protection of their present working conditions, penalties, overtime rates and living standards.
The workers have been locked out since early December 2010 when they decided to take legally protected strike action during EBA negotiations.
So much for workers’ rights during protected industrial action under Fair Work.
Locked out workers have been holding 24 hour, seven day a week peaceful picket/protest outside the Brooklyn plant for 5 weeks.
Multi-national JBS has flown in workers from its Queensland plants and bringing in casuals to do the work of locked out workers.
Locked out NUW members include workers from South Korea, New Zealand, Yugoslavia, Macedonia and refugees from North-East Africa.
After 5 long weeks of being locked out and holding up the picket, all are in financial hardships. Some have fallen behind with rent and have been threatened with imminent evictions. Many are unable to keep up with mortgage repayments. Some have pawned family goods, including a lap top.
They are not entitled to unemployment benefits, because they are deemed “in employment”!
The dispute is reaching a critical point over next couple of days.
The locked out workers and the union have received strong support from the local community, other workers and unionists. But a much wider support from the union movement and the community is needed.
A community support fund is being set up to raise money for the locked out workers on the picket. Unions, community groups and individuals are urged to contribute.
JBS multi-national’s action is only a glimpse of the big corporations’ globalisation agenda to slash working peoples rights and conditions in Australia. It’s no secret big corporations want to cut workers’ wages and working conditions in Australia to make bigger profits for their head offices overseas.
They want to gut Australia’s union movement and weaken the collective power of workers and unions. The likes of JBS are demanding that workers’ wages and conditions in Australia are lowered to the standards of workers they employ in the harshly exploited developing countries. NUW members at JBS in Brooklyn are fighting for workers’ rights and conditions of all working people and should be strongly supported.
If you can give support to JBS NUW members please contact Western Suburbs Community and Unions Coalition, 0417 456 001, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Western Suburbs Community and Unions Coalition