MEATWORKERS at Teys Beenleigh will strike for 24 hours on Friday as negotiations over new workplace agreements heat up.
Teys Australia CEO Brad Teys has slammed the action of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU), warning the meat processing industry will follow the path of Australia's motor vehicle manufacturers unless major workplace reform takes place.
"We are dealing with a union that is stuck in the '70s, that still believes in unfettered union power," he said.
"Times have changed and the manufacturing industry must change or it will die. The community knows that and most of the families of our 800 staff know that."
However, AMIEU branch secretary Brian Crawford said Mr Teys was attempting to whip up a crisis in a bid to bust the union cut its employees' wages by 20 per cent and increasing their workloads.
"Far from being stuck in the 1970s, the union has demonstrated to Teys Australia that a large slab of its workforce have lifted their productivity by 18pc since 1998, yet the real value of their wages has declined by 11pc in the same period," he said.
"Teys Australia hasn't contested the sums. It's Teys Australia who wants to return its employees' wages and conditions back to the 1970s with their attacks. I doubt on the wages that they're offering that any of our members could even afford to drive a 1973 HQ Holden around in 2013."
Citing records publicly available from ASIC which show that Teys Australia Beenleigh made $38 million in after tax profits in the nine years from 2002/03 to 2010/11, during which the company paid out $33 million in dividends, Mr Crawford said the company was in no position to cry poor.
"The period between 2009 to 2011 was tough for all meat processing companies in Australia due to the high Australian dollar, high stock prices and sluggish international demand," he said.
"Now the dollar is below parity and falling, cattle prices have plummeted to new record lows and international demand for Australian beef is soaring. All the leading agricultural research institutes are predicting record years for now and into the future concerning Australia's beef exports.
"Trading conditions in the industry are highly favourable. Teys Australia know it, they just don't want their workforce to know it. The facts in the industry just don't fit the spin."
Mr Teys said drastic industrial reform was needed in the meat processing sector to encourage more workplace flexibility and a more engaged workforce.
"We see a workplace where the company and workers share the same goals and vision. A profitable company provides job security," he said.
He said most of Teys' staff - many who are not union members - oppose the continued industrial action, with only 28 per cent of the total workforce voting in favour.
"We are concerned for those staff who will lose a day's pay for the second successive week as a result of the union's action," he said.
"The union's control is disproportionate to the views of the workforce and these bully tactics show why reform is needed.
"The meat processing industry is vital for the Australian economy and we must ensure its long-term viability and protect thousands of jobs and associated industries across the country."