Baiada Poultry dispute
Members, activists, delegates and staff of the NTEU are requested to attend the Baiada Poultry picket line.
As you are no doubt aware, there has been a picket line at Baiada Poultry, Pipe Road, Laverton since last Wednesday. The workers, often recent migrants, are fighting for decent pay (some workers are being paid $10 an hour), an end to bullying and racism from managers, improved health and safety (two workers have died in the last six years, including a worker who was decapitated at the factory last year): in other words, decent terms and conditions and basic respect. Many NTEU staff and members have already visited the picket line and found the workers inspiring. A police attempt to break the line on Friday night was defeated.
The dispute has now spread to Adelaide, where workers in a Baiada plant there voted to impose overtime bans in solidarity and in response to attempts to process chickens from Laverton there. As a result, about 40 workers there have been sacked.
The owners of the plant have shown contempt for the law and their workforce. On Wednesday night they tried to get a security guard to drive through the picket line. He was stopped, but not before he broke a worker’s arm.
Talks between the union and management broke down earlier today.
There is an injunction against the National Union of Workers to prevent them picketing, but this does not stop members of the community more broadly staffing the picket line.
Other unions have been requested to provide assistance in staffing the picket line on particular days this week. The NTEU has agreed to provide a presence from 8am on Friday until 8am on Saturday. We will share the responsibility with the MUA.
This is a request for as many members, activists and staff as possible to attend the picket line on Friday. If you are able to go on other days and times, that would also be most welcome. Please let me know if you intend to go to the picket on Friday and what time you can be there.
This is a major industrial dispute, in defence of some of the most exploited workers. Union solidarity is vital.
(Please note that Baiada supplies about 35% of the poultry in Australia, to major retailers such as Coles. It is being investigated by the ACCC for misleading customers over animal welfare standards.)
Victorian Division Secretary
National Tertiary Education Union