After five days of industrial action, Inghams Chickens came back to the United Workers Union (UWU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) with a better pay offer and improved working conditions.
Workers at Inghams in Bolivar, South Australia and Osborne Park in Western Australia are some of the country’s lowest paid workers. They went on strike on September 22 after the company put forward 3.9% in the first year and 3.5% in subsequent years. Around 1000 union members at both sites rejected Ingham’s sub-inflation offer.
Inghams came back with another offer of a 5.12% rise in the first year, 4% rises in subsequent years, full back pay, better conditions for labour hire workers and improved breaks. The UWU said the pay rises mean an average additional $100 a week.
“Importantly the workers have won respect,” the UWU said. “Inghams has recognised that the disrespectful and unfair treatment of workers needs to end and committed to an external audit to investigate the behaviour of senior management across both states.”
Throughout the bargaining period, workers were told they would not receive back pay if they took industrial action. “They were told that they would never get more than a 3% deal, but they have received an effective pay rise of over 5% in their first year and 4% for years 2 and 3.
“They were told they’d never stand united, but they are more united than ever, at each site and across state borders.”
The workers resumed their regular shift times on September 27. UWU national secretary Tim Kennedy commended the workers. “I feel like I am in a pretty good position to tell grand final watchers across the country that hot and crispy KFC and chicken parmi is back on the menu.
“The workers that kept Australia fed during COVID-19 took a pretty admirable stance just over a week ago and because they stuck together, they’re now going to have a nice little bonus ahead of Christmas holidays.
“This is what union does and what union is; workers taking control of their own destiny in the face of huge challenges. Now they walk back in with their heads held high and it was a privilege to be able to support them in their determination.”
He thanked the AMWU Australian Manufacturing Workers Union WA and every unionist, politician and community member who supported the strikers.
“Without knowing they had that support workers could never have kept going.”