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Agriculture Farming Rural, Employment Relations

Wilmar Workers Prepare to Strike

AWU 3 mins read

In another blow to the beleaguered sugar giant, over 92% of AWU members in Wilmar Sugar’s milling operations in North Queensland have voted in favour of taking industrial action to advance their campaign for a fair pay rise.

The successful protected action ballot was conducted between Monday and Friday this week and involved hundreds of Wilmar’s workers.

Because this ballot was successful, union members will now have the option to take legally protected strike action at Wilmar’s sugar mills.

AWU Queensland Branch Secretary Stacey Schinnerl said that this is a clear sign to Wilmar that their workers are not going to accept another poor deal.

“After rejecting Wilmar’s bad deal last year, workers have once again sent a message to management that they aren’t going to cop another one,” Ms Schinnerl said.

“North Queenslanders are not going to accept being shortchanged by a multinational corporation like Wilmar – this is a line in the sand for the entire region.”

This successful ballot will mean that Wilmar can expect significant industrial action during the crush season this year, which is the period where sugar cane is transported to mills to be crushed into sugar.

This is Wilmar’s peak earning season.

Ms Schinnerl said that workers are ready to hit Wilmar where it hurts.

“This is the first time in a very long time where there will be industrial action disrupting Wilmar’s peak earning season,” Ms Schinnerl said.

“Wilmar can avoid this action by coming back to the table with a fair offer.”

Ms Schinnerl said that Wilmar’s shareholders need to take a closer look at the management of the company.

“Wilmar executives and their shareholders need to reflect on whether our members will settle for their next offer if they want these mills to keep operating,” Ms Schinnerl said.

“Our message to them is simple – we know you are making record profits and we know that you can give your workers the fair pay rise that they deserve.”

AWU members have been meeting with cane growers and community members across North Queensland since November last year, and many have shared their frustrations with this company.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jim Wilson (0419 765 952)


Our Coverage

The Australian Workers’ Union is one of Queensland’s oldest and largest blue collar trade unions.

The AWU represents workers in the sugar industry and has hundreds of members who work for Wilmar across their operations.

The other unions involved in the bargaining are the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU).

All three unions are working together to fight for a better deal.

What Action Can Workers Take:

The industrial action that workers have voted for includes strike action of 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours and 48 hours.

It also includes (but is not limited to) work bans on performing overtime, call outs and working with contractors.

Each individual action is voted for or against by the workers.

The highest vote for an action was 98.3% yes.

What Workers Are Calling For

Workers at Wilmar are the third lowest paid in the industry.

Workers are calling for pay rises of 12% in the first year, 8% in the second and 5% in the third year.

This would place workers towards the higher end of the sugar industry, which they believe is appropriate considering the surging profits of a multi-billion-dollar multinational company like Wilmar.

Wilmar’s Current Offer

Wilmar were offering pay rises of just 5%, 3.75% & 3% before Christmas when they put their proposed agreement out to a ballot of their employees without union approval.

With inflation factored in, this would have taken workers backwards in real terms.

Workers believe that this is not fair considering Wilmar’s generationally high profits, which is why 80.5% of workers voting against the company’s poor deal in that ballot.

Previous Media Coverage:

“Australian Workers Union accuses Wilmar Sugar of bullying during pay vote”, Townsville Bulletin (16 November 2024):

“Wilmar Sugar Australia workers reject pay offer, AWU says”, Townsville Bulletin (18 November 2024):

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