McCain food workers set to win pay rise

September 14, 2021
Smithton workers outside the McCain factory. Photo: Australian Manufacturing Workers Union / Facebook

After being locked out of their workplace twice by Canadian-owned McCain, frozen food workers in Smithton, Tasmania, have forced the multinational company to an in-principle agreement for a pay rise.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) said on September 3 that the Smithton workers had been earning up to 15% less than their mainland counterparts. Under the agreement, workers will receive a 3.8% pay rise in the first year, with a minimum of 3–5% over the following two years.

The workers also won paid family and domestic violence leave, double time on all overtime, and apprentices will receive the higher site rate rather than the award rate.

McCain agreed to the union’s demands after the Fair Work Commission (FWC) found its lock-out in late July to be unlawful. The company also locked workers out in August. As of September 4, McCain had not paid its workers for the first unlawful lock-out. Neither had it agreed to fairer sick leave provisions.

The agreement has to be approved by the Smithton workers before it goes to the FWC.

AMWU state secretary John Short said: “This is a victory for all McCain workers across Australia who know that having two sets of pay and conditions only divides workers. McCain workers have showed the company that they stand as one.”

AMWU national secretary Steve Murphy said: “To go from a company locking out their entire workforce, to getting an in-principle deal that is fair and equitable a few weeks later, shows what workers can do when they stand united and don’t back down.”

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