Occupy Melbourne released the statement below on November 22.
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Today's victory of striking chicken workers is a massive boost in confidence to the most exploited workers of the 99% in Australia. Occupy Melbourne's Community and Union Outreach group has been a community supporter of the Baiada chicken workers since before the strike, with participants on the picket line during police attacks, as well as performing prominent stunts targeted against major Baiada purchaser Coles.
Management at Baiada Poultry today offered their workers a deal which sees an end to cash-in-hand employment and an end to $10 pay. This was a focal point of the campaign best summed up by the popular slogan “no more $10!”.
The employees of Baiada Poultry are some of the most exploited in Australia. As well as the low pay, there were accusations of bullying and harassment, intimidation of unionised workers and gross negligence in workplace safety which has lead to two deaths, including a decapitation.
Occupy Melbourne activist Alex Ettling said: “Baiada workers and their supporters will celebrate this victory for the 99%, however there is still an underlying injustice in the fact that the Baiada family is worth $495 million, whilst these workers continue to be some of the poorest in Australia. Occupy Melbourne is continuing to organise against this massive disparity in wealth and supports workers taking collective action to hold the rich and powerful to account.
“The workers confidence to defy Baiada management and to continue their strike, despite the Victorian Supreme Court's injunction against the National Union of Workers, indicates a rising tide in worker's confidence.
“Despite the stifling limitations on worker's rights that come from Fair Work Australia, the state and federal governments, the police, and the courts, workers are now showing a readiness to defy the anti-union laws of the 1% and push for economic justice.
The decision of Victorian nurses to defy Fair Work Australia and continue with their industrial action is a welcome sign of the growing confidence of the workers of the 99%. Occupy Melbourne supporters were prominent supporters yesterday, distributing flyers and cheering nurses as they entered Festival Hall to cast their unanimous vote to continue their action.
Ettling said: “Massive profits are still being made by the 1% in society, and yet the workers that do some of the most important work in our community are seeing their living standards and workplace conditions attacked. The prosperity just never seems to flow through in a fair way and it is increasingly clear that workers of the 99% will have to go on the offensive if we are ever to achieve any economic justice.”
Occupy Melbourne's Community and Union Outreach Group will be joining the Australian Nursing Federation's “2011 Public Sector Nurses EBA Community Rally” in support of the nurses on Thursday November 24 at 12.30pm, outside Myer in Bourke Street Mall.
Occupy Melbourne will continue to engage in stunt actions in support of workers, with actions planned for November 24 during the rally and November 25 at 5.30pm at City Square.