Workers at Teys Australia’s Beenleigh meat processing plant will be given the opportunity to vote on a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement by secret ballot – despite opposition from the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union.
The move comes after staff at the plant presented a petition with more than 300 signatures to the bargaining committee calling for a ballot. The bargaining committee is made up of representative of Teys, the AMIEU and employee representatives.
Teys general manager corporate affairs, Tom Maguire, said the move by staff proved just how out of touch the union was.
“It’s very difficult negotiating with a union that is concerned more about its own power base than the needs of its members or the overall good of the company,” he said.
The AMIEU and employee representatives last week rejected the call for a secret ballot, forcing the company to terminate negotiations and explore its options, which includes closure of the plant.
At the time, Teys called the Union’s actions “a lost opportunity for much-needed industry reform.” The company has stressed the small profit margin at the plant and the need to remain globally competitive.
In a memo sent to staff explaining the latest development, Teys said it had decided to follow the wishes of most employees and proceed with a secret ballot.
“Since the previous ballot in February, Teys Australia has put forward five different proposals which have all been rejected by the Union and the EBA Committee,” it said.
Mr Maguire said many staff understood the problems facing Australia’s manufacturing sector and were willing to work with the company to make the plant viable and protect their jobs.
“Less than 50 percent of our workforce voted for industrial action in the first place. Now it has taken a worker uprising to bypass the union and petition us directly,” he said.
However he explained that staff needed to vote to accept the latest offer in order to protect their future and the future of the plant.
Teys’ Beenleigh plant employs 800 staff and according to an independent economic study, is responsible for 4000 flow-on local jobs and a $250 million annual injection into the local economy.
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