Dairies won’t stop as workers stage strike

ABOUT 40 dairy workers at Kiewa and Cobram will strike on Friday as part of a protest over pay.

The maintenance workers at the Devondale Murray Goulburn factories are taking the action over 24 hours from 6am because they are disappointed at enterprise bargaining negotiations.

Devondale Murray Goulburn said its “manufacturing operations are intended to continue as normal” with most production workers at both plants unaffected by the industrial action.

Electrical Trades Union organiser Peter Mooney said the company had offered 2 per cent annual pay rises over three years.

The union sought 4 per cent yearly increases over the same period.

“The commencement of this protected industrial action follows six months of negotiations between the company and the unions that have not resulted in agreement being reached on the new workplace agreement,” Mr Mooney said.

Sticking points included redundancy entitlements, proposed pay increases being below inflation and the employment of more local apprentices.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union organiser Mark Solly said the action would also involve his members and other Devondale Murray Goulburn sites at Rochester, Koroit, Leongatha and Maffra.

“Murray Goulburn is a highly profitable operation,” Mr Solly said.

“It recently announced huge profits and increases to farm gate milk prices.

“It also has announced a number of investments worth more than a $100 million.

“Surely Murray Goulburn should be investing in its employees as well.

“Our members believe the company should have no problem in agreeing to all outstanding claims to settle the new collective agreement.”

Devondale Murray Goulburn declined to comment directly on the unions’ claims.

“Devondale Murray Goulburn’s discussions with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Electrical Trade Union are ongoing and have been productive to date, however we received notification of intended industrial action yesterday,” it said in a statement yesterday.

“As this is a current enterprise bargaining negotiation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”