AMWU intervines on employee injustice

Manufacturing Matters (print), April 2013

In most workplaces it is necessary to have a union presence to ensure safe work conditions and an appropriate relationship between the employee and the employer, but for Perth based Silliker workers they have found this out the hard way.

Up until late 2012, the Silliker food safety and quality testing labs in Perth, Western Australia, had no union presence with a total workplace population of 15 people, making the workers quite vulnerable to their globally renowned employer.

Once Jade Cochrane and the AMWU, caught wind of this injustice he took action to begin bargaining with Silliker and eventually turning the workplace 100% union.

“We were asked to carry forward the same conditions for the next 4 years without any mention of renegotiating,” said Silliker worker representative, Linda (SURNAME).

In the Perth based Silliker testing laboratories, one of the main points of injustice was the fact that their three year old Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) which expired in September 2012 was going be put in place to carry on for another four years without an opportunity for renegotiation. This was when the staff at the Perth labs were first made aware that they could have union representation.

“The first EBA was “negotiated and agreed” upon by elected staff representatives with no “bargaining skills” over a weekend. So the AMWU stepped in at the opportune time and a lot of us joined up with the union to represent us to renegotiate a new EBA.”

With no stark comparison to any other EBA, there are only improvements to be made by the AMWU in negotiations with Silliker on better work conditions for the workplace of 90% women.

“We are pleased with the slight improvement (as compared to none) to the tentative conditions that the company has counter offered so far, but they do not go far enough so as to satisfy the majority of staff … with the union still in there negotiating hard for much better conditions on our behalf, thumbs up for the AMWU.