General Mills workers win wage rise, maintain conditions after 3-week strike

June 23, 2021
Solidarity is being shown to General Mills workers at Rooty Hill striking for fair pay and conditions. Photo: United Workers Union / Facebook

#BREAKING: On June 25, General Mills workers endorsed a deal in which all their conditions are maintained, the unions said. That includes a wage rise of almost 9% over three years, a $1500 bonus and protection for all labour hire casuals and contractors who participated in the strike.

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“General Mills (GM) workers are holding firm on their demand to be treated fairly with a reasonable pay rise and job security,” United Workers Union (UWU) organiser Tom Sayers told Green Left on June 23, a national day of action for the strikers.

The workers make the well-known food brands Old El Paso and Latina Fresh. They have been on strike since June 4.

The US-based multinational corporation made more than $26 billion in 2019-20. Over the last year and a half, during the COVID-19 pandemic, workers in the state have worked extra hours to keep up with increasing demand.

“The company is not treating its workers with due respect and hearing their fair demands,” Sayers said.

Workers are demanding a 9% pay rise over three years and better job security. But GM wants to slash their rights and conditions, including pushing them to take on weekend work. The company has offered an average pay rise of just 1.5% a year and no new permanent jobs.

Many GM workers have been on casual contracts for more than five years. They are determined to win permanent employment.

GM workers have received support from other sections of the union movement, including with contributions to the strike fund, attending the picket line and sending messages of solidarity.

“The struggle of the GM workers here is symptomatic of a broader issue,” Sayers said. “Wage stagnation has become entrenched in this country over a long time. To win against these huge multinational companies, we need united, collective action on a wide scale.”

Lee Pappas, a UWU organiser for the NSW food and beverage industry, told Green Left that GM is trying to get the Fair Work Commission to order an end to the action.

He said “conditions inside the plant are getting worse. Production has gone downhill and there are many OH&S [occupational health and safety issues].

“Meanwhile, among the strikers, morale is good, and the general mood is united. Other sites are showing solidarity, and we’ve had support from Unions NSW and the South Coast Labor Council,” said Pappas.

“The workers remain resolute, and prepared to fight until they win,” Sayers said.

[You can sign the GM workers’ petition here.]

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