Parmalat Lock-Out Update

The company lock out of 70 ETU and AMWU members at the Parmalat Echuca site has now entered its third week.

For the last 15 days, locked out union members have maintained a 24 hour day, seven day a week protest camp outside the Parmalat Echuca site.  The protest camp, with tents on the front lawn and caravans in the car park, has all necessary amenities; even providing an above ground, toddlers’ bathing pool!

Since the lock out commenced, the two unions have had four negotiation meetings with the company.  Limited progress has been made on the outstanding enterprise agreement negotiation matters that are in dispute.  The company fails to understand that union members will not accept a reduction in site wage rates and employment conditions.

At one of the four negotiation meetings, the company proposed that existing site employees should receive a 9% wage increase over the next three years while all new employees would be paid 20% less than existing employees.  This discriminatory proposal was unanimously rejected by ETU and AMWU members.


When Adam Pankhurst, 28 year old ETU Shop Steward at Parmalat Echuca, arrived at work he was confronted with this big, bright red lock that his employer had lashed around the employee entrance turnstile.  Parmalat had indefinitely locked out Adam and over 60 of his work mates at the Echuca dairy desserts manufacturing site.

Why have Parmalat Locked Out Adam and the other Parmalat workers?

In July 2016 Parmalat, that is owned by Lactalis, the largest dairy manufacturing company in the world, presented the ETU and AMWU with an enterprise agreement log of claims that represented a major attack on the wage rates and employment conditions that applied at the Echuca site.

In early October 2016, Parmalat lodged an application with the Fair Work Commission to terminate the existing Enterprise Agreement that covers the Echuca site.  This application was lodged with the Commission only five weeks after the Agreement’s nominal expiry date.   The Commission is due to formally consider this application on 16th & 17th February 2016.

If the Fair Work Commission approves this application, Parmalat Echuca employees will lose between $10 to $20 an hour in wages for ordinary time work.  This amounts to between $400 and $800 a week reduction for each employee.  As well, reductions in shift penalty loadings will result in a further loss of between 5% and 15% in wages.  Workers would also face reduced overtime penalty rates and their long service leave accrual rate would be 30% less.  They would have massive reductions in redundancy pay entitlements.  Employees currently entitled to over $100,000 in redundancy pay would have this entitlement reduced to as little as $10,000.

Parmalat has told the Fair Work Commission that it is in the public interest that the Commission terminate the existing Echuca site Agreement. 

Adam Pankhurst is married.  He has a 4 year old son, an 18 month old daughter and a mortgage on the family home in Echuca.  Many workers at Parmalat have similar backgrounds. 

Forbes business magazine estimates that Emmanuel Besnier, the Chief Executive Officer of Lactalis, has a personal worth of $6.7 billion and in 2015, Parmalat Australia’s sales revenue was $1.65 billion.

We believe it is ridiculous that Parmalat can suggest that it is in the public interest that the wages and employment conditions of Adam and his work mates should be massively reduced. 

Who do you support?