Workers at Peters Ice Cream production facility in South East Melbourne are set to take industrial action in their fight to stop the slashing of wages for casual workers. The initial protected action will commence Friday January 22 at 12.01 am in the form of an indefinite ban on overtime.
Peters, whose well known brands include Drumstick, Maxibon and Frosty Fruit, have failed to listen to workers concerns around casualisation and low pay since negotiations began in March last year. Workers have already rejected the company’s offer that would cut the hourly wage of casual employees by more than $9 per hour.
Peters maintains a highly casualised workforce – more than 30 per cent of workers are in insecure casual work, many being at the company for years without an offer of a secure permanent job.
As essential workers, both casual and permanent employees have been required to put health and safety on the line throughout the pandemic.
“Productivity at Peters is up, or equal, to previous years and yet this multi-million dollar company is looking to slash the wages of Victoria’s insecure workforce,” said Neil Smith, United Workers Union National Dairy Coordinator. “We call on Peters to respect the sacrifices essential workers have made for them and provide a fair wage increase and secure employment.”
During the COVID-19 crisis Peters has refused requests for paid pandemic leave, a safety measure workers at other food production facilities across Victoria have been able to successfully negotiate, allowing low paid workers to afford time off to get tested for the virus.
Many other companies in the Australian food industry have also rewarded workers with a pandemic bonus recognising their work. Workers at Peters however have not received any such bonus.
Peters, Australia’s most widely distributed ice cream producer, are known for their ruthless approach to operations.
The company are currently being sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for unlawfully preventing competition.
This is the second consecutive Enterprise Bargaining Agreement where workers at Peters have been forced to take industrial action in order to protect the wages and conditions for casual workers.