Workers at the Lactalis dairy processing factory in Bendigo walked out on an indefinite strike last Thursday, over wagers and jobs guarantee issues. There is concern that management is trying to use the pandemic to close the factory.
The 140 workers argue that they and the Bendigo community deserve a clear answer and that the business should do the right thing by the community in which they have operated for years.
If they don’t want to operate the plant, they should let someone else do it. Local farmers depend on it for their livelihood as well as the workers.
The Lactalis site manufactures Paul milk, custard, sour cream, Farmhouse and Farmhouse Gold Milk, Ice Break, Zymilk lactose free milk, Vaalia Yoghurt, Macro Organic, and more.
Management have not responded so far, and the strike is continuing.
United Workers Union (UWU) organiser Tom Czech said Lactalis’ workers have decided to stand up.
This happens to be one of the biggest dairy companies in the world. The French based Lactalis group has 80,000 employees across 198 industrial sites in 94 countries. The group is now the owner of Kraft. This is no small battler company and does have the resources to provide secure jobs on decent wages.
Workers in Bendigo are saying no, and they are standing up for their community, and rejecting threats to close if wages rise.
Other dairies have closed their doors and have not operation continue in any form to prevent competition. This doesn’t help the workers and communities affected, especially at times of hardship and when everyone should be pulling together for the good of all.
Australia has already lost far too much manufacturing. Regional centres have been devastated by it, and there are few other prospects. Long term survival depends on doing something about it, and the remaining large-scale businesses should be taking up a duty of care for those who they have profited from. If they don’t Want to do this, they should move over for those with a more developed sense of responsibility.
Justice demands that these workers and he people of Bendigo get plenty of community support.