Pie workers get the union of their choice
BY SUE BULL
GEELONG — It took four days of lost pay for Beaumonts Pies and Cakes workers to get their union recognised by the boss. But they all reckon it was worth it.
The workers had joined the food division of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, but the employer only wanted to deal with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union.
Workers were defiant, however, saying that the LHMWU had not given them proper representation in the past. The union's membership has fallen from 30,400 members in Victoria in 1996 to 17,000 at present, in part as a result of similar member dissatisfaction elsewhere.
AMWU steward Raelene Holland told Green Left Weekly, "We want our own union and our boss won't recognise them, so we are out on strike until he does recognise them."
The Australian Industrial Relations Commission ruled on July 17 that workers could turn to the AMWU to negotiate enterprise agreements.
Beaumont workers are happy with their new union; the 40 who were members before the dispute began have plans to join the remaining 100 workers in coming weeks.
The AMWU's food division is led by supporters and members of Workers First, the militant new leadership of the Victorian branch of the AMWU. Perhaps this explains why the boss told workers before the dispute that they could join any union they liked, except the AMWU.