Employees of Bathurst’s Simplot plant have voted to accept a six per cent wage increase over the next three years as a damaging industrial stoush comes to an end.
The decision comes after 12 months of negotiations between Simplot Australia and the relevant unions.
The new AMWU, CEPU and Simplot Australia National Collective Enterprise Agreement 2014-2017 applies to employees at the company’s Tasmanian and regional NSW manufacturing plants.
Simplot managing director Terry O’Brien said the agreement will deliver “sustainable” wage increases of six per cent over three years and improvements to the company’s ability to be flexible in the future, while securing employee conditions and benefits.
Simplot announced in October 2013 that more than 100 permanent jobs would be lost from its Bathurst plant as the company was forced to slash its local food production operations.
Bargaining representatives and Simplot management have been negotiating since early 2014 to replace the current enterprise agreement for some 800 employees working across Simplot’s manufacturing sites at Bathurst and Kelso (NSW) and Devonport and Ulverstone in Tasmania.
“This agreement was complex and difficult as it heralds the march back to global competitiveness for our major Australian operations,” Mr O’Brien said.
“We needed to achieve a balance of improved productivity, reduced labour cost escalation and, at the same time, reflect the reality of cost of living pressure on our employees.
“Clearly, these aims are not necessarily aligned and so compromise was required from both the company and the employees.
“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 whilst continuing to protect the jobs and above award wages of our employees.”
Simplot employees covered by the new agreement will receive a 2.5 per cent wage increase in year one, followed by increases of 1.5 and two per cent in years two and three of the agreement.
Mr O’Brien said he wanted to thank Simplot Australia employees for their show of support throughout the process.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) NSW secretary Tim Ayres said the union was also pleased with the result.
“It is a good compromise, and one that was sorely needed,” he said.