Bindaree Beef Employees Adjournment Speech: Legislative Council 6/03/2014

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The Hon. LUKE FOLEY (Leader of the Opposition) [4.04 p.m.]: I rise in solidarity with the meatworkers of Inverell. In particular I express my support for the actions of employees of Bindaree Beef in support of their claim for a fair pay rise and public holiday entitlements. Yesterday Bindaree Beef meatworkers stopped work for the first time in 18 years. They exercised their legal rights under the Commonwealth Fair Work Act. Last year the company presented an enterprise agreement offer to employees that involved a 0.2 per cent pay rise to workers in the first year of the proposed agreement, which amounted to $1.54 for the lowest-paid workers. Twelve months after the 0.2 per cent pay rise for the first year of the agreement, the workers would have been offered an additional 2.8 per cent pay rise. Eighty-five per cent of voting employees rejected that proposal. Yesterday, for the first time in 18 years, the employees of Bindaree Beef exercised their legal right to take protected industrial action in pursuit of their claim for wage justice.

I wish to highlight the public holiday work practices at Bindaree Beef. I am advised that for the past 16 years employees of that company have been forced to work on Anzac Day. I do not think it is right to force those employees to work on such a sacred day. There are sticking points regarding payments on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Meatworkers are among the lowest-paid manufacturing workers in this country. I do not believe it is right for employers to unfairly pressure meatworkers to work on days that are as significant in our society as Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Anzac Day simply to get more money. The workers at Bindaree Beef deserve both a fair pay rise now and fair treatment when it comes to our most significant public holidays. As the shadow Minister for the Environment, I know that New South Wales abattoirs are very full and are doing well. The owner of Bindaree Beef, Mr McDonald, should be prepared to put a fair offer to his workforce.

My friend and counsellor the late Tom Hannan began work in 1953 at the