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Agriculture Farming Rural, Employment Relations

Wilmar Strikes Escalate

AWU 3 mins read

AWU members at Wilmar Sugar are escalating their industrial action at the beleaguered sugar giant’s North Queensland mills after another unproductive bargaining meeting on Wednesday.

Workers attended a bargaining meeting with Wilmar on Wednesday in the hope of reaching a fair pay rise that reflected their worth and the company’s massive profits.

AWU Northern District Secretary Jim Wilson said that workers are bargaining with Wilmar in good faith.

“Unfortunately, after arriving to the bargaining meeting over an hour late, Wilmar has still not budged on their bad offer, only offering fractional movements on conditions and no change to the pay rise.”

“We have been bargaining in good faith with the company, and we have shown that by reducing our wage claim by 3%,”

“We were hopeful that we wouldn’t have to go ahead with the Thursday strikes if the meeting went well – unfortunately, it did not.”

Mr Wilson said that the company’s inability to compromise with its workers will mean prolonged industrial action at its mills.

“Unfortunately, Wilmar’s unwillingness to compromise means that the Thursday strike went ahead with vigour, and we are escalating industrial action across the board.”

“Wilmar is trying to dictate the terms of bargaining, but that is ultimately futile because workers are willing to continue striking for as long as it takes to reach a deal.”

“We are not asking for the world in terms of a pay rise, we just want our members to be compensated fairly for the work they do at a time where Wilmar is making record profits. “

Wilmar is also attempting to bring in foreign labour to paper over their inability to bargain with the North Queensland community.

The AWU has received notice that Wilmar is attempting to bring in 16 workers from Fiji to take up work in their milling operations.

“Wilmar is trying to save a quick buck yet again by bringing in foreign workers to bust up our strike action,” Mr Wilson said.

“These jobs should be going to people in the sugar communities around these mills, so that the money goes back into the local economy.”

“This will be called out by our community for what it is – an attempt to drive down local wages and conditions,”

“If Wilmar keep going down this path, they will be doing their brand irreparable damage in the North.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Jim Wilson (0419 765 952)

Background:

Wage Claim

The AWU has reduced our wage claim by 3%, which means our members have dropped the ask on the company to 22% in pursuit of a fair deal.

Wilmar has not changed their position on pay at all throughout the process.

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 sugar mills across Queensland.

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.

Previous Media Coverage

“Australian Workers Union accuses Wilmar Sugar of bullying during pay vote”, Townsville Bulletin (16 November 2024): https://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/australian-workers-union-accuses-wilmar-sugar-of-bullying-during-pay-vote/news-story/05508c9ed837c775866ac92253ccb92d

“Wilmar Sugar Australia workers reject pay offer, AWU says”, Townsville Bulletin (18 November 2024): https://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/wilmar-sugar-australia-workers-reject-pay-offer-awu-says/news-story/26cbea4fd4ac47134b429b1d880be721

“Wilmar Sugar and Renewables says cane harvest faces delays over worker strike action” Townsville Bulletin (10 May 2024) https://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/wilmar-sugar-and-renewables-says-cane-harvest-faces-delays-over-worker-strike-action/news-story/ecc17c406dc40f165024968267c4d9a8

“Wilmar Sugar Mills in Australia Face Work Stoppages Over Pay”, Bloomberg (7 May 2024) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-05-07/wilmar-sugar-mills-in-australia-face-industrial-action-over-pay?embedded-checkout=true

“North Queensland sugar mill workers form picket line against Wilmar, threaten the crush”, Courier Mail (9 May 2024) https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/mackay/north-queensland-sugar-mill-workers-form-picket-line-against-wilmar-threaten-the-crush/news-story/f0be5607daa1b86eaddaf49a5a87a431

“More cane workers strike during season 'crisis point'”, (May 15th 2024) Fair pay strike at Tully Sugar cane mill after Wilmar strikes | North Queensland Register | QLD

 

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