Australia’s Poultry Supply Soars as Workers End Strike with Pay Raise Victory


After a period of intense industrial clamour that threatened to paralyze the supply of poultry within Australia, striking union workers finally resumed operations at major chicken processing plants. This welcome development follows successful negotiations and a subsequent vote in favour of a new labour contract, between the United Workers Union and poultry giant, Inghams.

The industrial unrest, which lasted five tense days, significantly hindered Inghams’ operations in West Australia and South Australia. As the chief supplier to recognized brands such as McDonald’s and Woolworths, the ripple effects of this operational disruption resonated broadly and acutely.

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The bone of contention centred on a pay dispute, where the union demanded an 18 per cent increment over a span of three years, in contrast to the company’s proposed 11 per cent adjustment. However, the newly agreed-upon contract cedes to workers a 5.12 per cent increase in the first year, and subsequent 4 per cent rises in both the second and third years, totalling to a 13.12 per cent raise. As a result, the pockets of poultry workers can expect a heartening $100 boost every week.

Tim Kennedy, the national secretary of UWU, warmly described this financial uplift as a “nice little bonus” in time for the Christmas season. He commended the unity and tenacity of the diligent workers that sustained Australia’s food supply in the throes of the Covid pandemic.

Protests initiated last Friday saw the halt of work at Inghams’ Osborne Park facility in WA and the shutdown of the Bolivar plant in Adelaide. The Bolivar protest, however, sparked quite a bit of controversy. Allegedly, an obstructive picket was organized, leading to an illegal blockade at the site. This resulted in the creation of biohazards due to waste build-up as trucks restricted from leaving.

Additional allegations arose pointing towards an assault on an employee who attempted to gain access to the site in the pre-dawn hours of September 22, although specific details remain undisclosed. Inghams sought to suppress the picket by applying to the FWC, but their efforts proved futile as the Fair Work Commission ruled out authority over obstructive pickets.

While the conclusion of this story rings a triumphant tone for the poultry workers and the United Workers Union, it properly illustrates the ebbs and flows that inhabit the tumultuous space of labour disputes, often marked by the collective pursuit of just compensation.

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