SPC Ardmona is mainly a preserve of the AMWU – the food preservers’ division (in the past, the officials were Communists, nothing wrong there, but interesting to note) – but the maintenance staff are covered by the AWU. Well that’s when they had some maintenance employees. Now they have all been made redundant and the maintenance function has been outsourced.
And where did the real problems begin? When Dolly Shorten decided to take the maintenance workers out on strike mid-season and negotiate a completely unsustainable package of pay rises and additional leave. Good one. He sure did change their lives forever – they ultimately got the sack.
And note to Bill: there is a lot of leisure for the unemployed.
Here’s the story:
IN his former life as a union leader, Bill Shorten led SPC Ardmona workers on a six-day strike during the harvest season, winning them an extra eight days “leisure time”.
Amid debate over the workers’ enterprise agreement and its role in the company’s financial woes, a 2004 press release has emerged in which the now-Opposition Leader claimed to have changed SPC working conditions “forever”.
He said workers had “won an agreement from SPC Ardmona for a 13.5 per cent improvement in salary conditions including an extra eight days of leisure time by the third year of the agreement”.
“By taking legally protected industrial action for the last six days these workers have had a victory that will change the way they work at SPC forever,” Mr Shorten said, in his role as Australian Workers’ Union national secretary.
“We … will be continuing our campaign to win greater leisure time for our members across the country.”
In the statement, headed “AWU wins shorter working week at SPC”, Mr Shorten said SPC workers had not wanted to disrupt the busy harvest period but felt their issues had been ignored by management.
“We think this dispute could have been avoided if SPC management realised that what makes the SPC brand so important and valuable is the people who have made SPC what it is today – that is the workforce at the original SPC factory in Shepparton,” he said.
It’s understood the press release referred to the winning of rostered days off.
It’s believed the maintenance workers referred to in the AWU press release were made redundant in December last year in a cost-cutting move by the company to outsource its trades workforce.