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Inghams workers in WA, SA strike major new deal with Australian chicken producer

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By: Muhammad Jawad
Inghams workers in WA, SA strike major new deal with Australian chicken producer

A Return to Balance

The Australian poultry market breathes a sigh of relief as workers of the nation’s largest poultry producer, Inghams, call off a strike following an in-principle agreement on pay rates. This news comes as a resolution to a dispute that threatened to disrupt Australia’s poultry supply, restoring a sense of balance and security to a key section of the nation’s food industry.

The resolution follows a period of industrial action that saw employees from plants in Bolivar, SA and Osborne Park, WA express dissatisfaction with initial pay proposals. The deal initially rejected by over 1000 members of the United Workers Union (UWU) and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union included a 3.9% pay increase in the first year and a 3.5% increase in subsequent years.

The breakthrough came when management revisited their offer to present an improved deal of a 5.12% increase for the initial year, and four percent rises in the two following years. This improved proposition was more favorably received by workers, signifying a thaw in a previously frosty negotiation atmosphere.

More Than Just Pay Increases

Additionally, Inghams committed to transforming its labour hire practices. This change extends to improved break times, an element that has been a long-term concern for workers within the industry, and an impartial audit of senior management behavior. These measures aim to guarantee a safe and productive working environment for all employees.

UWU national secretary, complimented the workers for their admirable stance and unity during this period. The result of the negotiation not only means a more substantial pay packet – an extra $100 per week for some of Australia’s hardest workers – but the victory also extends to acknowledge the workers’ instrumental role in keeping Australia fed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before the resolution, analysts had voiced concerns about potential adverse ripple effects, including a shortage of chicken supply and potential price hikes. Especially as Australia headed into football finals season, a period associated with increased casual dining, such an outcome could have been particularly disruptive.

Chicken Back on the Dining Table

As a major player in the poultry market, Ingham supplies around 40% of Australia’s chickens and is a key supplier for popular brands including McDonald’s, KFC, and Woolworths. There were concerns among football fans over the possibility of shortages of popular menu items during the grand finals.

This resolution will not only allow these brands to rest easy, but it’s also good news for Australian households too. With this worry put to rest, Australian residents can confidently plan their family meals and celebratory events during the holiday season, safe in the knowledge that their favorite poultry dishes are back on the menu.

The dispute highlighted tensions within the poultry industry and its workers. It’s a testament to both parties’ willingness to find common ground and take decisive actions that these issues have, for the time being, been resolved. While this particular dispute is over many will hope that it signals a step in the right direction for the industry as a whole.

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