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Striking Burnie workers slam Saputo’s “anti-Tasmanian attitude”

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Saputo. Image / Kristoffer Tripplaar

Striking workers at Burnie’s Saputo factory have accused the company of resorting to “extreme tactics” to keep the plant running as they continue their fight for equal pay.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) have slammed Saputo of “gutter tactics” in their efforts to break the strike by maintenance workers.


*It’s bad enough that the company is trying to make disparity worse with a cut to real wage, only offering 4.5%, but now the company is spending more money to continue this dispute with scab labour than it would cost to do the right and fair thing,” AMWU Organiser Michael Wickham said.

“Not only have the company flown workers in from Germany and offering blank cheques to local companies to try and cover the strike, they are employing gutter tactics.”

The unions allege Saputo has sent propaganda about the negotiations to the home addresses of striking workers.

Saputo Burnie. Image / Google

CEPU State Secretary Michael Anderson slammed the company for its “anti-Tasmanian attitude”.

*The north-west coast is a small community and deserves better from a multi-national who has depressed wages of working families for years, like many other big employers,” he said.

Wickham said the unions have congratulated most contractors in the north-west for refusing to “cross the Saputo picket line”, but some companies have become involved.


“Undermining the efforts of striking workers to lift the wages of all trades people in an area is a low act, which will never be forgiven by unions or their members. There’s nothing lower than scabbing,” he said.

According to the union, Saputo pays 24 maintenance workers at their Burnie site 21% less than the same workers across multiple sites in rural Victoria.

The dispute has been ongoing for over eight months, with the current full stoppage lasting a week and no return date in sight.

CEPU and Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union members at Saputo in Burnie. Image / Supplied

Saputo is understood to have scheduled a meeting with their national bodies in Sydney next Friday.

In response to the accusations, Saputo Dairy Australia operations and supply chain director Gerard Lourey said the company has made repeated attempts to schedule bargaining meetings with state unions since mid-May.

“Saputo Dairy Australia is continuing to engage with our valued maintenance workers at Burnie and we remain committed to progressing negotiations in good faith,” he said.

“We want to resolve outstanding items with our employees and their representatives in a fair and amicable manner, and we are waiting for state unions to come back to the bargaining table.”

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