ROLLING strikes will continue at the Dinmore Meatworks after a meeting between plant owner JBS Australia and Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union officials failed secure an accord on the terms of a new enterprise bargaining agreement.
Workers will strike for four hours next Thursday night and again next Friday morning, with further stoppages expected after union officials meet with workers in coming days. As has been the case with recent four-hour stoppages at the plant, JBS will cancel full 9.5-hour shifts during the industrial action, essentially locking workers out of the plant for the duration of the shift.
The meat processing plant is the largest private company in Ipswich, employing almost 2000 people. Employees due to work during the stoppages will not be paid.
Despite numerous meetings between JBS and the AMIEU since the dispute began in May, the parties remain deadlocked on the issue of a pay increase.
JBS Australia director and manager of corporate and regulatory affairs John Berry confirmed no real progress had been made at the meeting.
"The point is JBS remains firm on the 3% offer," Mr Berry said.
"It's a good offer in the current economic climate.
"In relativity terms, there are a lot of negotiations taking place around the country talking about a lot less than 3%."
AMIEU state secretary Brian Crawford said workers would continue their industrial campaign and the union would continue to encourage members to hold firm on the 4% pay claim.
"We believe the company may be going to put the company proposal up for a vote," Mr Crawford said.
"If they do we will obviously be canvassing a no vote."
JBS recently put the same proposal to workers at the company's Rockhampton plant, where union members also were seeking a 4% rise.
The secret ballot resulted in workers marginally voting in favour of the new EBA, which has now been lodged with Fair Work Australia for ratification.
The AMIEU is challenging the vote, alleging workers weren't fully informed about the detail of the agreement.
Mr Berry said ordinary workers were paying the price of unnecessary action.
"The vote (in Rockhampton) was successful. They voted for the 3% increase and the pro-rata back pay.
"We undertook at Rockhampton, as we have at Dinmore, extensive consultation and communication with the workforce."
Mr Crawford disagreed.
"I accept that the workers voted for it," he said.
"But if the information was distributed properly and explained properly, we believe the outcome would have been different."
The AMIEU also questioned the need for entire shifts to be scrapped because of the stoppages.
Mr Berry said the company had no choice but to close the business, citing animal welfare issues as one reason.
"At the end of the day I think the owners of the business are best placed to make decisions about what is and isn't viable," he said.
"We are the owners of the Dinmore Meat Plant and the actions of the union are unfortunate."