Thursday, June 6, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Wilmar Warns Workers Of Lockout If Striking Action Taken

Earlier this week, on Tuesday, June 4, Wilmar Sugar and Renewables advised more than 1,200 waged employees that anyone participating in industrial action from yesterday, Wednesday, June 5 will be locked out until further notice.
Workers have been told that if they are locked out, they will not be paid until the lockout is lifted.
A company spokesman said the decision to lock out was not taken lightly.
“We respect employee rights to union membership and their right to take lawful industrial action,” he said.
“However, the company also has the right under the Fair Work Act to respond to prolonged industrial action to protect its interests.”
The lockout will not affect workers who are not participating in industrial action, or who have been participating in action but wish to attend work and carry out their full duties without imposing any bans or participating in any industrial action from Wednesday.
Members of the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union and Electrical Trades Union have been imposing work bans and rolling stoppages at the company’s nine factories since mid-May in support of demands for an 18% pay rise, which was recently reduced from 22%.
The Wilmar spokesman said industrial action has delayed completion of essential maintenance and preparatory work at the factories ahead of the 2024 sugar season and has forced the company to push back start of production by more than a week.
“We have willingly engaged with bargaining agents for the employees and encouraged negotiation, even asking the Fair Work Commission to assist,” he said.
“We have made a number of offers to try to reach a fair and reasonable outcome that we can sustain over time.
“However, unions have chosen the industrial action path over negotiation.”
Unions notified intention to continue rolling stoppages and bans, including overtime bans, for at least another week forcing further delay and impact on growers, contractors and others in the community.  
Wilmar has requested a ballot of employees covered by enterprise agreement to be held on June 10 and 11 to vote on the most recent offer of a 14.25% increase over three-and-a-half years, as well as a $1,500 sign-on bonus and a $20 a week allowance for electrical workers using their licence.
AWU Northern District Secretary Jim Wilson called the lockout a “disgraceful” attempt to prevent workers from standing up for themselves and their communities, saying these efforts will ultimately be unsuccessful.
“This is a multinational corporation trying to bully and intimidate North Queenslanders to stop us asking for our fair share,” Mr Wilson said.
“These are intimidation tactics of the highest order.”
“Workers won’t take this lying down, and growers won’t accept Wilmar further delaying the crush by locking skilled workers out of their workplaces.
“Workers will continue to take action, we will vote down the newest bad agreement and Wilmar will be back to square one.”

Wilmar Sugar and Renewables warned its workers that anyone participating in industrial action will be locked out until further notice. Photo supplied

In other news