On Monday 21 November, workers at the Pampas pastry factory in Footscray, Victoria began an indefinite strike. Roughly 50 workers joined in the strike, which comes as a response to Pampas’s recently offered three-year agreement, which included a pay increase of 4 per cent per annum, which does not stack up compared to the annual inflation rate of more than 7 percent.
Another issue that the workers wish to have addressed as a result of the movement is the engagement of 15 of their co-workers as casuals, who were hired through third-party labour hire agreements. Some of these workers have been in their positions for up to 20 years and now wish to be instated as permanent staff.
This change would allow those who have been employed on a casual basis to enjoy better job security, as well as the benefits that come with being a permanent member of staff, including sick leave.
Pampas strike delegate Lam Thanh told Star Weekly, “Rather than employing the casuals who have worked hard for the company [for] 15 years or longer, full-time jobs have been given to people who have never worked here before.”
The factory at Footscray is responsible for making fruit mince pies for Baker’s Delight, as well as frozen pastry goods for Coles and Woolworths, and Helga’s wraps. The brand Pampas is owned by Goodman Fielder, a billion-dollar company that is responsible for a wide range of food brands across Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia Pacific.
The workers have started a petition on megaphone.org.au, a platform which allows workers to raise and spread awareness about the conditions where they work. Workers want Goodman Fielder’s CEO Gurpreet Vohra to enter into discussion with the workers to talk about their demands.
The petition claims, “Pampas’ employees, who are predominantly migrant workers, are asking for secure jobs and a fair wage increase.”
The petition currently has more than 1,000 signatures and is seeking at least 2,000.