Simplot to keep food processing in Australia after wages deal

The
Australian operations of food processor Simplot have been saved by “compromise”
in wage negotiations, says the company.

As reported by Food Magazine and others yesterday, a six per cent pay rise over
three years for workers was agreed on by the AMWU and Simplot.

According
to the company, it had been considering moving processing to New Zealand, as
Heinz and McCain have done in recent years.

Workers
at Tasmanian sites at Devenport and Ulverstone agreed to the deal, which was
reached after a year of negotiations between the union and Simplot.

“Compromise was required
from both the company and the employees,” Simplot managing director Terry
O’Brien told The Australian Financial Review.

“I believe we found a
compromise which will help Simplot Australia maintain its hard-earned market
position, and to restart desperately needed sales and margin growth while
continuing to protect the jobs and above-award wages of our employees.”

Workers will see a 2.5 per
cent pay rise in the first year, 1.5 in the second, and two per cent in
following years. Inflation is currently 2.3 per cent. The AMWU was originally
seeking a 15 per cent pay rise over the years.

According to O’Brien, the
agreement, as well as long-term contracts with the two major supermarket chains
and the drop in the Australian dollar, had helped the company keep its
Australian factories operating.

Simplot operates plants at Ulverstone and Devenport (Tasmania), Rchuca and Pakenham (Victoria), and Bathurst and Kelso (NSW). Its brands include John West, Chiko and Birds Eye.

Image: Sally Bryan/ABC Rural