Meat workers to walk off job as wage battle hits a wall

MEAT workers earning just above award wage will walk off the job today after growing frustrated a compromise on a meagre pay increase has hit a wall.

Negotiations over a new enterprise agreement for Primo Foods Wacol workers has dragged on for eight months with parent company JBS, which posted record revenue in the past financial year.

Employees are seeking a 3per cent pay increase and back pay or a sign-on bonus equivalent to the extra money they feel they should have been receiving while talks have stalled.

They also want a shortened six-hour day moved back to its original place on a Friday, designed to give workers a longer weekend, after it was moved to Monday at Christmas.

Workers on site have now voted down three proposals and will clock off after working half of their eight-hour shift today.

Australasia Meat Industry Employees Union organiser Warren Earle said the latest proposal from JBS included a 2 per cent pay rise and a $290 gift card to make up for back pay.

Mr Earle said the requested pay rise was close to the minimum wage adjustment during the past three years.

He said JBS had "shut the door" on negotiations since the latest offer.

"The (latest) offer was again a 2 per cent on ratification (with the Fair Work Commission)," he said.

"At the moment, ratification takes about six months to get to the commission so people wouldn't see a pay rise this year.

"Workers think the $290 gift card is a token. Just on a 2per cent pay increase, not the 3per cent the workers are requesting, that works out to about $700 or $800 over a 12-month period not including super. The majority of workers out there are only on about 12 cents above award wage. The company are announcing record profits and if they can't get what they're asking for - a 3 per cent pay increase - when will they ever get one?

"We have this big international giant billion-dollar company standing over hard-working Australians who are on a very low wage."

JBS did not respond to a request for comment.