• Employees at Saputo Dairy Australia’s Tasmanian processing plant are striking over wage negotiations, arguing for pay parity with their Victorian counterparts, who are paid 21 per cent more than those in Tasmania. (Source: Instagram, AMWU)
    Employees at Saputo Dairy Australia’s Tasmanian processing plant are striking over wage negotiations, arguing for pay parity with their Victorian counterparts, who are paid 21 per cent more than those in Tasmania. (Source: Instagram, AMWU)
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Employees at Saputo Dairy Australia’s (SDA) Tasmanian processing plant are striking over wage negotiations, arguing for pay parity with their Victorian counterparts, who are paid 21 per cent more than those in Tasmania.

Employees at Saputo Dairy Australia’s Tasmanian processing plant are striking over wage negotiations, arguing for pay parity with their Victorian counterparts, who are paid 21 per cent more than those in Tasmania. (Source: Instagram, AMWU)
(Source: Instagram, AMWU)

A delegation from Burnie in Tasmania’s North-West travelled to SDA headquarters in Melbourne on Wednesday (3 July) to launch a nationwide campaign to boycott SDA products at Coles and Woolworths stores.

Represented by the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU), negotiations have been ongoing since August 2023.

The unions said, “Last week, Saputo reneged on an in-principle agreement to address the pay disparity leaving the unions with no choice but to escalate the dispute and call for a national boycott of Saputo products.”

But SDA Operations and Supply Chain director, Gerard Lourey, said the unions’ media release contained “mischaracterisations and incorrect information”.

“Saputo Dairy Australia remains committed to progressing negotiations in good faith to reach an agreement for our valued maintenance workers at our Burnie manufacturing site,” Lourey said.

“Our bargaining team met with the union on Friday 28 June and put forward a fair offer. Our intention is to resolve outstanding items with union representatives in a swift and amicable manner.”

CEPU state secretary, Michael Anderson, said Saputo had miscalculated the resolve of the workers.

“Multinationals usually assume using their size and resources to ignore and wear down workers works. But it’s not working anymore, not when working families’ living standards have been smashed by the rising cost-of-living. Workers feel like they’ve got nothing to lose, and from 21 pre cent lower wages, these guys haven’t.

Employees at Saputo Dairy Australia’s Tasmanian processing plant are striking over wage negotiations, arguing for pay parity with their Victorian counterparts, who are paid 21 per cent more than those in Tasmania.(Source: Instagram, AMWU)
(Source: Instagram, AMWU)

“Saputo picked this fight and brought us here today, and now we’ll see if management are keen to play games as union members boycott their brand. We’ll see if Woolies and Coles like their products boycotted.”

SDA brands include Cheer, Devondale, Cracker Barrel, Great Ocean Road, King Island Dairy, Liddells, Mersey Valley, South Cape, and Tasmanian Heritage.

AMWU Tasmanian acting state secretary, Jacob Batt, said, “A company paying workers equally for their skills is fair but treating workers poorly because of where they live is not. Since the cost-of-living explosion over the last few years, it’s not cheaper to live in Tassie and wages need to reflect that.

“Boycotting Saputo products will test the company to see if they will stand by their corporate statements about respect, fairness and equity, or to trample all over them and their own brand.”

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