The dairy industry is important to all of us. Dairy jobs are at the heart of regional towns and have historically provided the foundational secure jobs that people in these communities can build their lives around. We are the people who produce the country’s milk, milk powder, yoghurt and cheese. Together we are organising to protect well-paid and secure jobs in the dairy industry and to ensure dairy corporations respect our work and our towns.
We are seeing the effects of the climate emergency and global pandemics impact us on every front. Drought, bushfires, water supply issues, floods and COVID-19 are all having a devastating impression on the dairy industry.
We know that business as usual through negotiating agreements isn’t going to be enough to fix this crisis. This year several thousand members will be negotiating their EBA’s. This provides us with a unique opportunity to fight for real, long lasting change that would see our industry secure. There is no doubt our plan is ambitious, but if we do not act now there might not be an industry to fight for in the future.
We are fighting to:
We need state and federal governments as well as the processors to invest in our industry to ensure we are still here in 20 years.
They must fund research and development for new and more efficient ways to get more from less farming and manufacturing. The government must support moving all manufacturing sites to 100% renewable energy sources.
We must stop multinational companies mothballing regional sites just because they can. These sites are the life blood of our regional communities. We need to fight so that if a company does decide to close a site they must try and sell through a transparent process. If it can’t be sold, the company and the government must contribute $3 million dollars each to a community run fund of the workers choice to build new jobs in the surrounding area.
Milk must be sold at each point in the supply chain at a fair price. Processors and supermarkets have the responsibility to make this happen. To ensure that occurs and continues to occur workers are seeking transparent contracts and consultation on any new product, contract, change to milk price including all relevant prices.
Paid leave must be provided for emergency services workers and volunteers fighting fires. This includes ordinary rate of pay plus any allowances or loading a worker would normally accrue at the end of each pay cycle. Every worker should also be entitled to access a days paid leave to perform community services functions.
When workers are stood down as a result environmental related causes, they should continue to receive full pay for the first two weeks, and 75% of their pay for any further time.
Agreements should include clauses providing clarity on heat and smoke thresholds for safe work and cease work. Workers will continue to be paid when work ceases for heat or smoke reasons.
A worker should be entitled to ten days personal leave per year regardless of the length of your shift. There are some ongoing cases around how this applies to 10 and 12 hour shift workers. When we need a day off to care for a loved one or because we are ill, we need the day off and we should all be able to do this without loss of pay at least ten times a year. We can’t wait for the court outcome but we can put this into our agreements and win it permanently.
We have a crisis of insecure work in our industry. We have many many casuals and fixed term workers in our industry that are working 40 hours plus every week for years and years on end. Our industry is predominantly based in rural communities and insecure work has a major impact on our members and our communities. We want an industry standard that allows casuals to be converted to permanent and paid fairly.
Strong union rights and having paid union delegate positions will ensure and protect job security and worker’s rights across the industry. Rights of the union are being eroded by the current government at every opportunity that they have. We are losing long term, well paid, secure union jobs across the industry to new, non-union, insecure, low-paid sites. We must make a level playing field for all processors to compete for contracts and keep these great jobs in the regions. To do this, we need organisers to focus on the new players and up-skill delegates to deal with the minor issues at a site level. For this to occur, we need companies to provide 10 paid hours of delegate time for every 100 workers covered by the agreement.