Workers at the Pampas Pastry factory in West Footscray are still on strike nearly three weeks after walking off the job in protest of what they believe is an inadequate pay raise offered by Pampas’s parent company Goodman Fielder.
The strike, which started out being described as ‘indefinite’ began on 21 November after the workers were offered a new enterprise agreement, which contained a 4 per cent pay rise, which they say is far too low given the rising cost of living.
In addition to the workers’ demands for an eight per cent pay raise per annum, they are also calling for Pampas to make permanent the approximately 15 workers currently employed as casuals who have been with the factory for over 15 years.
These same casual workers have not been able to take part in the strike, as they are employed through a labour hire agency and would risk their employment if they joined.
The action is having a disastrous effect on production at Pampas’ West Footscray factory, which is ordinarily able to produce 80 pallets of stock containing 60 boxes each per day. As a result of the strike, the factory is currently only turning out roughly 12 pallets each day.
Although Goodman Fielder is yet to come to the table, residents and local businesses surrounding the factory are resoundingly on the side of the workers, with many being involved in a barbecue for those on strike and crafting signs reading ‘We support Pampas workers on strike!’ They are also currently seeking support through an online petition that has nearly reached the desired 2,000 signatures.
But this is not the only solidarity the workers have experienced. Member for Footscray Katie Hall MP recently joined the picket line.
“It’s coming up to Christmas and no worker should be worrying about how they’ll feed their families. But Pampas Pastry workers are facing just that because they’re on week 3 of a strike for fair pay and job security,” Minister Hall wrote in a social media post before posting a link to an online donation portal that is raising money for the workers on strike.
As Goodman Fielder continues to put off negotiations with the workers or the United Workers’ Union, it appears there is no end in sight for this strike.