GRAINCORP has snubbed the Australian Workers’ Union, taking a proposed enterprise bargaining agreement direct to its Victorian workers in a bid to end an industrial dispute before harvest.
GrainCorp gave its Victorian grain handlers a week to consider the proposal — which includes a 2 per cent pay rise each year for three years — before going to a vote in a secret ballot today and tomorrow.
A similar deal has been accepted by workers in Queensland and NSW, but the Victorian branch of the union refused to endorse the proposal, claiming it would allow increased and unfair hire of contract labour. The ballot comes more than 20 weeks after EBA negotiations began, and three weeks after the AWU started protected industrial action that allowed handlers to refuse overtime and to stagger breaks.
GrainCorp’s regional manager Peter Johnston said the proposed three-year deal represented a rollover of the current EBA, with the pay increase. “It was clear we’d reached an impasse (with the AWU) and this was the most efficient thing to do,” Mr Johnston said. He said he had met with three-quarters of the workforce and was confident the proposal would be accepted.
But AWU Victorian secretary Ben Davis believed workers would refuse GrainCorp’s deal. “The fact they’re not prepared to move on the labour hire is a deal-breaker. If they want labour hire they need to pay them the same way (as direct employees).”