Saputo workers in driver’s seat

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'Five-five-five' is the demand of dairy factory workers for three consecutive years of a five per cent wage increase.

Milk truck drivers in Victoria have secured a deal with Saputo over pay and conditions after a two-day strike on October 17 and 18.

A spokesman from the Transport Workers Union said Saputo executives had met with delegates of the strike to continue negotiations to secure a pay deal.

“It was a very, very good deal which we are happy with,” the spokesperson said.

“We expect our members to vote in agreement with the deal.”

The United Workers Union met with Saputo delegates from eight sites on Tuesday who agreed to ‘significant’ improvements in both pay and conditions.

Saputo director of operations Gerard Lourey said an agreement was being considered for workers at four production sites and a logistics centre.

“Saputo Dairy Australia is pleased to have reached an in-principle agreement with the United Workers’ Union for its valued workers,” Mr Lourey said.

Workers protest outside the Cobram Saputo factory on October 18.

UWU national secretary Tim Kennedy said most dairy workers who took part in the two-day action now have a pay offer of five per cent for the next year, with two other companies, Peters and Lactalis, also negotiating with the UWU.

The Lactalis offer is currently subject to negotiation and affects only 22 workers.

Peters Ice Cream has offered a three-year increase of five per cent in the first year, followed by 4.5 per cent in each of the following two years.

That offer is under consideration by employees.

“Total dairy worker pay offers, now ranging up to 14 per cent over three years at the Peters Ice Cream site give workers a real chance to at least start addressing the cost-of-living crisis,” Mr Kennedy said.

“In the case of Saputo, the current three-year offers in front of workers ranging between 11 per cent and 12.5 per cent are way up on previous company offers as low as 8.25 per cent.

“That gets them closer to the current inflation rate and is double the pay rise of 2.5 percent dairy workers agreed to, to help their companies out during the pandemic.”

Dairy workers across all Saputo sites are considering the offers.

“As always it will be the workers at the sites under those agreements that will make the final call as to whether the new offer is voted up.”

Peters Ice Cream storeman David Chapman outside the company’s factory in Mulgrave.