Strike continues at Swift meatworks

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 11th January 2011

The lockout of workers at the Swift meatworks in Brooklyn, Victoria, has entered its second month, after NUW members again voted to reject the company’s 2% annual pay offer.

One hundred and forty cold storage workers at Swift Australia, Brooklyn had agreed to taking industrial action on December 3rd last year, following a wage offer they described as ‘well below the cost of living.’

“This pay offer will send workers and their families backwards at a time when workers are facing real cost of living pressures through higher interest rates and higher utilities prices,” said NUW State Secretary Tim Kennedy.

“The company’s approach to its workers is not good enough and our members won’t accept it.”

“Locking out of low paid workers who are simply seeking a fair and decent pay rise will be resisted by these workers and the NUW.”

“Cold storage workers at Swift endure low pay and tough conditions, and handle lamb that ends up on tables around the world,” Kennedy said.

The company’s Australian operations have been variable, with the company’s King Island abbatoir facing closure last year, and reopening only with a loan of $12 million from the Tasmanian state government.

In addition to the strike, the Brooklyn meatworks incurred a $50,000 fine in December for contaminating nearby Stony Creek with animal effluent.

Swift operates ten meat processing plants and five feedlots throughout Australia, including the Rockdale meatworks acquired in March last year.

Swift Australia is owned by Brazilian meat giant JBS, who are currently believed to be evaluating a takeover bid for American food giant, Sara Lee.