Parmalat workers locked out in pay dispute

Issue 
Dairy workers at the Parmalat-owned Longwarry Food Park have been locked out.

Dozens of Gippsland dairy workers have been locked out indefinitely by milk producer Parmalat. When workers arrived at the gates of the Parmalat-owned Longwarry Food Park, east of Melbourne, on July 5, they were met with news of the lockout and closure of the site.

The Longwarry workforce is among the lowest-paid in the dairy industry according to the National Union of Workers, and had been calling for improved conditions in their pay deal to bring them in line with other Parmalat sites.

They had previously given the company three days' notice of their intention to take protected industrial action — including refusals to work overtime, complete paperwork and load and unload trucks — as part of a push for better pay and conditions.

About 50 full-time and casual workers are affected by the lockout at the Longwarry plant, which produces UHT milk and cream cheese.

The central issues in the dispute are the union's claim to allow casuals to convert to permanent positions after six months of full-time hours, and its opposition to the company's wish to change rosters without notice.

NUW secretary Gary Maas said: “All the workers want is to go some way towards achieving the same conditions that other workers in industry get for the hard work that they do.

"Industry standards are good for everyone, including workers, their families and the regional communities this company is a part of."

Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.