Winning secure jobs for our labour hire workers

Steven Bermingham is a delegate at Lion Dairy and Drinks

United Voice members at Lion Dairy and Drinks in Adelaide know that labour hire employees are vulnerable to exploitation and sudden loss of income. We were determined to solve that problem when we negotiated our recent enterprise agreement (EBA).

We argued that labour hire workers should be paid the same as permanent employees. We said they also deserved to get back pay when the new EBA kicked in.

We could not have won this claim without labour hire employees showing they were willing to stand up for themselves. Very few of them were in the union when we started to draw up our claims.

United Voice members explained that management would not be persuaded unless our labour hire mates were prepared to get on board and join the union. By the time negotiations started more than half had joined United Voice.

Management soon dropped their opposition. Now people who come to us through labour hire companies are on a better deal. We got a clause inserted that makes it easier for them to become permanent. Needless to say, our friends are pretty happy about this because some have been ‘casual’ at the plant for up to eight years.

All of us are looking to make our jobs more secure. Our EBA campaign also resulted in a reasonable pay rise and better payments to workers who are injured and sick long-term. It only came about because we were prepared for a fight. We showed we were serious and the company gave ground.