ABOUT 60 workers have locked themselves in a lunch room at a Dandenong South factory and will stay put “as long as it takes”.
The International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) employees arrived at the Frankston-Dandenong Road premises about 6am this morning (Tuesday) to find they were banned from going inside.
The American-owned multinational company supplies flavours to Australia’s biggest food producers.
National Union of Workers (NUW) spokeswoman Emma Kerin told the Journal from inside the canteen that workers were to start protected industrial action today.
She said enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) negotiations started last June and had stalled because IFF was not backing down on cutting conditions.
“Protected industrial action was going to be a ban on paperwork,” Ms Kerin said.
“That led to quite an extreme response which was a lockout.
“Workers are currently in the lunch room and wanting to take up negotiations again if they are genuine, and not just the employer saying ‘it’s our way or the highway’.”
Worker Arthur Ingles said the last communication workers had with the company was an instruction to turn up for work on Tuesday to be addressed.
“We found a notice on the perimeter fence advising we were locked out because of our decision to take protected industrial action,” he said.
“That set the tone for the day.
“These negotiations have been going on for the best part of five months.
“Even by the company’s own admission we’re just running around in circles.
“What we’re wanting out of all of this is a fair and reasonable interpretation of the EBA so we can get back to work.”
Mr Ingles said workers wanted to hold on to two 10-minute paid breaks each day, a $50 a day bonus for sick leave not taken and more.
He said the industrial action was also to include a ban on overtime and would have continued indefinitely.
“It would have had a pretty severe impact on the company,” he said.
“We produce products that are used in food production.
“Accountability is a huge part of their responsibility. It would have prevented production.
“We’ve got no doubt that the company has made provision by a lot of stock being made in advance and taken off-site.”
Mr Ingles said security was on site, supervising.
“The company hasn’t spoken to us all day,” he said.
How long will they stay put?
“The resolution carried last week was ‘whatever it takes’,” he said.
“What we believe is that this can be resolved by the interested parties. That is the company and that is their employees.
“We need to resolve these differences.”
The Journal tried to contact IFF but could not get through.
A spokeswoman told another media outlet that the protected industrial action put food safety at risk, so the lockout was to protect food safety.
HIGHWAY Patrol police officers are searching for a driver who was seen speeding through Healesville over the Australia Day weekend.
Police at... Read More »
AUSTRALIA Day across the state will offer fun for everyone with exciting activities to celebrate what’s great in our state.
Visit the Austr... Read More »