Another Mudginberri?

A comrade suggested that this dispute ( NUW members in Melbourne’s west battling the World’s biggest multi-national meat monopoly for decent wages and conditions) is akin to Mudginberri – well here is a description of the Mudginberri dispute:

The Mudginberri Dispute from After the Waterfront by LeftPress

Place: Mudginberri (NT)

Union: Australasian Meatworkers Union (AMIEU)

Summary: Meatworkers Union made bankrupt through secondary boycott legislation. An abattoir owner backed by the National Farmers Federation sued for damages under s45D of the Trade Practices Act. The AMIEU was bankrupted by the court order for damages and costs.

Year: 1986

Details: In 1984-85, Mudginberri Station Pty Ltd, the owner of an abattoir in the Northern Territory run by Jay Pendarvis and backed by the National Farmers Federation sued the Meatworkers union (AMIEU) for damages under s45D of the Trade Practices Act.

Mudginberri workers had negotiated their own employment contracts with Pendarvis without union involvement. It was claimed that the Mudginberri workers were happy with their contracts and refused to support the picket.

The union was concerned that wages and conditions at Mudginberri did not comply with standard award entitlements such as minimum pay, sick pay, annual leave and workers’ compensation.

Union officials used pickets to prevent access to Mudginberri station.

When Commonwealth meat inspectors refused to cross the picket line, production ceased. Pendarvis sued the union.

The union was fined $144,000 plus costs. Punitive damages of $1.458M were awarded by the court under s82 of the Trade Practices Act for lost export earnings.[11]


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