A short, sharp campaign by maintenance workers at Tamworth’s Baiada chicken processing plant has led to a big pay rise and a raft of better workplace conditions.
Led by the Australian Workers’ Union, the Baiada workers set out about six weeks ago to show their worth to the company, in an industry and region struggling to find and retain skilled employees.
The result was a new four-year enterprise bargaining agreement with a 15% increase for the first year, then 2% a year for each of the remaining three years.
The AWU members were also able to have important domestic violence and casual conversion clauses included in the agreement.
AWU NSW Branch secretary Tony Callinan hailed the result, which he said would lead to a $4 to $5 hour increase, depending on workers’ pay levels.
“The New England region faces a huge shortage of skilled workers, with many being lured to work in the mining industry,” Mr Callinan said.
“Baiada’s maintenance workers were already earning above the award rate.
“But when the AWU delegates and members compared what maintenance workers in similar plants and abattoirs were being paid, they could show Baiada that it was paying way below the standard for this region.”
AWU has been looking after Baiada maintenance members for the five years, and now has about 80% membership.
Mr Callinan said that by agreeing to a good pay increase Baiada had kept its maintenance workers happy and would hopefully retain more of them.
“We showed that Baiada needed to invest in their employees and in doing so they would also retain vital acquired knowledge of the plant,” Mr Callinan said.
“The AWU is proud of the work we have done.
“It shows that working together will get a better outcome for all our members.”