Win for Dandenong workers following occupation

February 1, 2015
The victorious workers in Dandenong. Photo: National Union of Workers.

Warehouse workers at the International Flavours & Fragrances (IFF) factory in Dandenong scored a major victory on February 1, after their four-day occupation of the staffroom.

About 30 workers took the action after IFF management locked out the workforce earlier last week.

The workers, covered by the National Union of Workers, had been planning to undertake protected low-level industrial action against the company following months of negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

The main issue was a bid by management to strip the warehouse workers off their right to two paid 10-minute breaks, as well as provisions for accumulated sick leave to be paid out upon leaving the company. In exchange, the company had offered a 55 cent an hour wage rise.

The worksite produces and distributes food, drink and colour flavouring for a large number of manufacturers throughout Australia.

Senior delegate on site Arthur Ingles told Green Left Weekly: “We understand that there are pressures on business these days, but none of the EBAs so far have asked for the keys to the safe.

“It’s never been about the writing a big fat cheque for the workers. Rather, we want to see the value of our work recognised.

“Given that the work that we do is fairly exhausting, breaks that are currently provided are pretty important for getting through the day. Taking them away fails to recognise that what we do is physically demanding.”

The workers occupied the staff lunchroom from January 27-30, and were supported by friends, families and workmates who held a vigil outside the gates.

Management then agreed to meet with the workers in the hope of resolving the dispute.

On February 1, it was announced that paid breaks and all the provisions for sick leave will remain intact.

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