Workers to strike at Teys

29 May, 2013 12:30 PM

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."

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Rohan Stagg
29/05/2013 6:21:09 PM, on Stock Journal

Who would work for 20% less in pay and a increase of production level of 20%? They have a production bonus in place that is impossible to make. Isn't a bonus up and above what u earn.
Jen from the bush
29/05/2013 7:01:10 PM, on Queensland Country Life

Looks like cost of production in Au is going up more - it is already far too high from similiar actions - . Au cost of kill is $350/hd USA cost of kill is $150/hd Asia cost of kill is $35 Process of slaughtering will soon have to be done by machines - there won't be any choice if they want to survive!
30/05/2013 6:54:42 AM, on Queensland Country Life

And other meat works will close and move off-shore, do the employees really think this is the best for their employment, it will cost them their jobs in the end, the price to do processing in Australia is grossly over priced already.
30/05/2013 7:24:50 AM, on Farm Weekly

The dollar has been below parity for a couple of weeks & their using that as justification? What happens if it goes back up & trade falls off?
Hilda Hereford
30/05/2013 7:27:33 AM, on The Land

Wages in Australia are tooooo high. This is what is helping destroy this country. Give them a pay cut instead, or import people on 457's to replace them.
30/05/2013 7:29:33 AM, on Queensland Country Life

Rohan Stagg, that is the easiest Q? to answer, every other country besides ours, you can't be serious.
30/05/2013 8:05:24 AM, on Queensland Country Life

Put them on ringers wages and conditions and see how they go then. Not that many ringers think ringers wages are decent but you know what I mean.
31/05/2013 12:35:56 PM, on The Land

Have the chickens come home to roost! Wasn't it processors that supported the live trade ban. Now that there is no other outlet for cattle the unions will destroy the processing sector's viability. Maybe the processors stance is now biting them on the backside!
john from tamworth
31/05/2013 3:13:21 PM, on The Land

Archibald, that's right.Two years ago at the height of the panic and confusion caused by the LE ban, Teys and its new best friends at the union teamed up and lobbied for a permanent ban on all live exports. Teys even complained about all the Angus heifers being exported to Russia. This was nothing more than an attempt to shift the market in its favour and take advantage of the chaos created by Ludwig.
31/05/2013 3:55:16 PM, on The Land

JFT, Dead right, the processors were fools to think they could manipulate the "industry", get government involved in banning live export, and then expecting to make hugh profits at livestock producers' expense. When government get involved the competition in the market is destroyed and the whole market is warped. Welcome to government intervention and its disastrous effects. Processsors, welcome to the real world of Labor and union domination of your sector. I suppose now you'll cry foul, start shutting abattoirs and crying to government!!
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