AS a new workplace agreement starts this week at the Beenleigh plant of Teys Australia, the company has called the Fair Work Commission victory a “watershed moment for the Australian meat industry.”
On September 27, the FWC ruled in favour of Teys Australia – one of Australia’s largest beef processing companies – following a ten month industrial dispute with the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union.
The FWC approved the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement that was passed by Teys employees at a secret ballot in August. The new EBA – which will include wage increases, an initial cash bonus and profit sharing – commenced on Friday October 4.
Teys general manager corporate affairs Tom Maguire in a statement issued this morning called the win a “victory for common sense and a final rejection of obstructionist union tactics.”
However he said that while employees would be relieved the dispute was finally over, it should never have been dragged out by the AMIEU.
“This is an example of new industrial relations – where companies work together with employees in a spirit of common understanding,” he said.
“The old era of union hardball tactics and class warfare must surely be behind us if this country is to remain competitive globally. From the outset, only a minority of workers wanted to take industrial action and then the majority voted to approve the new EBA.”
Mr Maguire accused the AMIEU of refusing to accept the will of the workers, revealing that the union is still trying to scare workers into believing that the issue has not been resolved.
“We are being told of union representatives telling employees not to spend their bonus because they are still fighting this. It should be a warning for Australia that this union is still so focused on its own power base it has forgotten the ultimate objective – to ensure job security and a prosperous future for its members.”
He said he hoped the new government in Canberra would change the culture of industrial relations once and for all.
"It is time union officials had the same accountability as company directors, then they may finally put their members before their outdated ideology," Mr Maguire said.
“We can’t keep living in the past. Manufacturing must reform to remain competitive. The beef processing industry is vital to Australia and we want to ensure the industry is profitable for the long term. This is a prime example of the reform required in Australian manufacturing.”
Resopnding to the Teys statement, the AMIEU this morning issued a statement rejecting claims made by Teys/Cargill that the EBA result was a “victory for common sense” or a “new age” in industrial relations.
“Just last week Teys Australia/Cargills was listed as the number one private company in Brisbane, due to a massive jump in revenue ($2.19 billion) and what was described as a 'boom year'. They are not on struggle street and neither is the Beenleigh plant in some kind of crisis," an AMIEU spokesman said.
“This isn’t a victory for common sense or a 'new age' in industrial relations. Employers like Teys/Cargill have been whining about profitability for centuries and distorting the truth to cover the real picture. This is just age-old, tired corporate propaganda, greed and exploitation," tyhe AMIEU said.
“It’s a disgrace that Teys/Cargills had to give undertakings to FWC about applying the terms of the award to get the EBA through. In other words, they were attempting to pay workers less than the bare minimum. Without the AMIEU’s intervention in the matter, they might have got away with it."
“It’s a real stunner that Australia’s second largest meat processing company with net equity of over $200 million and $2.19 billion in revenue wants to pay people below award rates and conditions, which are the last gasp as a bare minimum."
“Whilst the champagne corks might be popping in the Teys/Cargills boardroom, the AMIEU is busily preparing an appeal against the decision approving the EBA. They might be well advised to put the Moet on ice for the time being."