Processor Bindaree responds to EBA claims

Jon Condon, 24/02/2014

Management of the Bindaree Beef export abattoir near Inverell has responded to media claims made last week suggesting the company is not interested in negotiation over its current Enterprise Bargaining Agreement dealings with staff.

“Directors of Bindaree Beef and senior company officials have always been available to meet with and negotiate with union representatives,” a statement issued this morning said.

“This is still the case and the company has been in discussions with union officials and already agreed to a meeting for next week. Bindaree Beef refutes characterisation on Friday in the media that the company is not interested in negotiation and that it had not agreed to next week’s meeting.”

Beef Central published this report on Friday, using information sourced from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Bindaree Beef processes about 800 herad per day through its export and domestic plant near Inverell, on the NSW New England tabelands.  

Statements made in the media about offers to employees and pay scale increases in the next 12 months failed to take into account several points, Bindaree management said.

These included:

  • That in a show of good faith and at the expiry of the previous EBA mid last year, Bindaree Beef voluntarily increased all employees’ wages by approximately $25 per week.
  • That Bindaree Beef, the consultative committee and the Union reached an agreement on the new EBA covering the next four years.  Grant Courtney (AMIEU General Secretary) personally shook hands with management and said the agreement had his full support.
  • Since that agreement, the AMIEU had twice come back and asked for additional benefits to be included in the EBA, and twice the company had agreed to those requests.
  • A third request since the initial agreement now had the union asking for another $2 per week.

“The company believes the union’s tactics of continually asking for ‘more’ after the agreement had been reached is unreasonable,” Bindaree’s statement said.

“The company has always had good relations with its employees. Providing an increase payment prior to the finalising of this current EBA negotiation is proof of the company’s goodwill,” it said.

Although the focus in the media last week had been on increases in the base wage component, no mention was made of the increases in a number of the productivity based payments, Bindaree management said.

“This is unfortunate because the true increases in the wages offer in the current EBA are not being accurately portrayed by those who chose to go to the media.  For instance the slaughterman position that was quoted by Grant Courtney in the media last week as earning $689.30 per week actually received an average $1166 per week last year, and is receiving significantly more this year.”

The wage increase that was agreed to with the consultative committee and the AMIEU would cost Bindaree Beef an additional $8 million more over the term of the agreement, the company statement said. 

“This is at a time when large manufacturing companies throughout Australia are closing down.   However we are prepared to do this because we have such a dedicated and committed workforce.”

The company said it did not propose to make any further comment in the media, with the directors and senior staff having already agreed to meet union officials next week.

“It is not Bindaree’s intention to negotiate, or apply pressure on negotiations through the media,” it said.

“We ask that everyone involved approach those discussions genuinely and in good faith.”

Today’s statement was issued on behalf of the company by John Clements, who chairs Bindaree’s Biodigestor Projector Control Group, which received $23 million in Federal Government financial support last year for a carbon abatement project. Bindaree sits in the New England electorate former held by independent, Tony Windsor, who helped provide the numbers to allow the Gillard Labor Government to take power.






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