Industrial action hits Greenham 25 October 2013

GREENHAM workers walked off the job today.

Meat workers are striking at Greenham's abattoir in Smithton in Tasmania's north west.

The members of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union are pushing for a 4 per cent rise on the grounds production has increased.

Greenham's has offered a 2.5 per cent annual pay rise over four years.

Union state secretary Troy Baker said it had been in negotiations with Greenham since March.

Already an indefinite ban has been placed on all overtime.

Mr Baker said the basis for its argument was that at Smithton they produce around 40 to 44 cattle per man daily, while elsewhere in Australia it averages between 20 to 24.

"Even at Longford (JBS Australia abattoir), our closest comparison, they get over tally for 24 a man so they are really getting paid time and a half after they do 24 cattle and this company (Greenham) is producing up to 44," he said.

At the Smithton plant there are around 160 beef processing workers, 115 of those union members.

Mr Baker said it was action that neither the union nor employees wanted to take.

"Industrial action isn't good for anyone," Mr Baker said.

"Everyone wants a fair and reasonable outcome for both parties."

The union contacted Tasmania Police who were happy for it to set up on the site near the abattoir in Smithton during the stopwork.

"We won't be a nuisance to the public and it will remove the bad stigma of setting up across gates like we are trying to stop all production," he said.

Mr Baker said employees voted to take industrial action to try to bring their enterprise agreement up to what they believe is fair and reasonable.

The last agreement was signed in 2010.

Mr Baker claims that since that time Greenham has seen a 25 per cent lift in production and in turn profitability. The company was not willing to provide evidence for or against this claim.

"The union requested figures from Greenham a couple of months ago but had that offer declined," Mr Baker.

Mr Baker said the company also had plans to cut new employees wages by up to $200 a week.

"It's not going to be too crash hot if you've got two people sitting on the same table doing the same duties earning $200 difference," he said.

Mr Baker said this would be the first day of stopwork action and it would then be up to the union members as to where they want to take it from there.