The Guardian • Issue #2034

Pampas workers reject crumby deal

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2034

More than fifty pastry and pie makers at Pampas in Melbourne commenced an indefinite stop work on Monday last week in a fight for job security and a decent wage rise. Some of the workers have been employed in insecure labour hire jobs for fifteen or twenty years.

They are demanding a wage increase of about $1.60 per hour each year for three years and conversion of labour hire workers to direct employment.

The workers are united in their demands and say they are ready to stay on strike for as long as it takes to win their claims. They have been denied entitlements such as sick leave and paid annual or other leave when working hard for so long in ongoing jobs through the highly exploitative labour hire system.

Their union, the United Workers’ Union (UWU), is attempting to negotiate an agreement with the company. Earlier this month workers overwhelmingly rejected an offer from management. The company retaliated by making an inferior offer to exert pressure on workers.

“Pampas workers aren’t interested in this crummy deal. They want an agreement that gives workers job security and a fair pay rise that recognises rising cost of living,” UWU organiser Andy Giles said. Inflation continues to rise, forecast to hit eight per cent or more by the end of the year.

“We are hearing a lot in the news right now about how workers in Australia need a pay rise. These are those workers.”

Christmas is fast approaching. Giles noted: “Pampas is willing to risk a national pastry and mince pie shortage just because they want to keep long-term, skilled, committed workers on low wages and stressful, insecure contracts.”

Pampas Delegate Lam Thanh added, “Rather than employing the casuals who have worked hard for the company fifteen years or longer, full time jobs have been given to people who have never worked here before.”

Pampas is owned by Goodman Fielder, a billion-dollar transnational corporation which supplies companies including supermarket monopolies Coles, Woolworths, and Baker’s Delight with frozen pastry lines, bread, margarine, oil, and other food lines.

Goodman Fielder employs approximately 1,200 people, operates in Australia, Asia, and the Pacific Islands, and is administered by its head office in Macquarie Park, New South Wales. It generated over a $1 billion in revenue in 2021.

As befits a monopoly, its major brands are numerous. They include Helga’s, Wonder, Praise, White Wings, CSR Sugar, Pampas, MeadowLea, Equal, Crisco, Fortune, La Familia Kitchen, Cornwell’s, Bush Oven, Buttercup, Country Life, Defiance, ETA, Gold’n Canola, Holbrooks, La Famiglia, Lawson’s, Mighty Soft, Olive Grove, Lawson’s, and Whole Earth.

Goodman Fielder is a privately-owned subsidiary of Wilmar GF Singapore Holdings which is controlled by its major investor, First Pacific Company Limited, an investment firm based in Hong Kong.

If you wish to show your solidarity with striking Pampas workers, you can sign the petition on the UWU’s Facebook page:

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