- It’s all over, apparently: “After almost six weeks locked out without pay, 140 cold storage workers at Swift Australia in Brooklyn have reached agreement with their employer.” [SBS] In the intervening period, the company successfully attracted a fine of $50,000 for dumping excess waste into a local creek. Also : Australia: National Union of Workers sells out six-week Swift meatworkers’ struggle, Margaret Rees and Frank Gaglioti, wsws.org, January 13, 2011.
Brooklyn Processing Plant
30 Industry Park Drive
BROOKLYN VIC 3012
PO Box 36
ALTONA NORTH VIC 3025
Phone: 03 9315 1299
Facsimile: 03 9314 1011
Swift Australia is a subsidiary of the Brazilian-based TNC JBS Friboi, the largest beef producer in the world. Swift has been busy taking advantage of the 457 visa scheme elsewhere in the country, and raking in even fatter profits as a result. The strike/lockout was triggered by workers’ refusal to to agree to a measly 2% pay increase “in exchange for working Saturdays with reduced penalties” (Brooklyn meatworkers in wage war, Maribyrnong Weekly, December 8, 2010).
The Workers Solidarity Network (Melbourne) provides the following infos:
Striking cold store workers at Swift Australia voted against the latest in a string of condescending offers from management today, as Workers Solidarity Network members and union activists assembled at the site.
The workers’ supporters blocked trucks throughout the day, sending a message to the company that endless stalling and bad-faith negotiation must end.
Confident despite their five-week ordeal, the workers reminded those attempting to cross the picket that Swift cannot be allowed to set this precedent for the mistreatment of workers, and that ‘touch one, touch all’ applies now more than ever.
ACTU President Ged Kearney was present, promising to do all she could to get more union supporters down to the site and funds raised. The Western Suburbs Community and Union Coalition, as well as ANF, MUA, ASU, NTEU, CFMEU and CEPU members all came to show their support for the striking workers, even helping to block trucks. All promised to return tomorrow with extra support.
Some workers, while appreciative, questioned why this community support was so long coming. Indeed because the call for community help has come so late in the dispute, it is crucial that all supporters go now and stand on the picket line alongside their friends in Brooklyn.