Union workers have scored another victory after abattoir owner Teys-Cargill Australia was ordered to make good on thousands of dollars of underpayments to staff at its Beenleigh plant in Queensland.
Meat workers union members have been engaged in a protracted battle with Teys ever since the company tried to ram through a new workplace agreement in 2013, by stacking the vote with trainees, temporary workers and other people who wouldn’t be actually covered by the new agreement when it came into force.
Teys was eager to get this new agreement through as it removed the incentive-based payment system that was put in place by agreement with the union, where skilled workers could pick up more cash for faster and better processing. The Fair Work Commission told them it wasn’t going to fly. They appealed. They lost. They appealed again. They lost again.
It was an embarrassing time for Teys, who tried to sell the Fair Work Commission on their new agreement based on a fairytale that an incentive payment scheme was never actually part of the original agreement and so it shouldn’t be a part of the new one — only for their own staff to take the stand and testify otherwise.
Tired of Teys endless appeals, a Federal Court judge has now ordered Teys to just stop fighting and cough up the money they owe their workers, with boners, slaughterers, slicers and graders to receive thousands of dollars each in unpaid wages.
Results like this show the power of standing up to employers and speaking with one voice. If workers had stood by and said nothing, Teys would have continued flouting the law, pocketed the difference, and walked away leaving all of its workforce worse off under an inferior new agreement.
Now, thanks to union members — people just like you – workers are being paid their legal entitlements.
But this kind of thing isn’t just happening in Queensland. All across Australia, employers constantly try to force dodgy or even illegal agreements onto their workers, desperate to make as much money as possible by slashing your rates and your rights. It’s only when workers stand together that they have the power to stand up to these attacks. Speak to your union delegate today about how you can be a part of the fight.