Multinational giant Unilever, which owns Streets ice cream, has applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate an enterprise agreement at its Minto plant in western Sydney. If the workers are forced back on to the award, they would suffer a significant loss in pay and conditions.
The Minto workers, members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), rejected a proposed agreement that would have seen new employees paid less and with worse conditions compared to existing workers.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said if workers were forced back on the award, their pay would be slashed by up to 46%. They would also lose existing limits on overtime, annual, personal, parental and compassionate leave, redundancy conditions and protections against use of labour hire and contractors.
Unilever is the latest high-profile company to apply to terminate an agreement in what McManus called “industrial blackmail”.
“Unilever and Streets are forcing workers to choose between an agreement they don’t want and a 46% cut in wages, with crippling cuts to conditions,” she said.
“The rules that used to protect working people from this kind of attack are broken. Unilever is exploiting the fact that corporations have been given immense power, and protections for workers have been broken down.
“The ACTU will campaign against this appalling treatment of working people — not only at Streets but everywhere that companies are using termination of agreements as blackmail — until the rules are changed.”