Millaquin Mill Lockout

Sugar mill workers on strike

MORE than 50 Bundaberg Sugar workers were locked out of their workplaces yesterday after taking strike action just before noon.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union spokesman Brad Hansen said the workers had advised the company they would strike for an hour and that, following the action, the mill had locked them out for the rest of the day.

"It was always (the workers) intention to go back to work and the company has enacted their right to lock them out," Mr Hansen said.

"I find it ironic how they say they're desperate to find extra productivity and then they do this.

"It creates a fair level of animosity we've been hoping to avoid."

Mr Hansen said it was important people realised the employees were not fighting for money, but rather to maintain their rostered days off.

"We can't reinforce enough that this is not about money. These guys are trying to maintain their work-life balance," he said.

"They're in a position where they feel if they have to work more hours, they may as well work away in a job that offers more money."

Mr Hansen said employees wanted the situation resolved quickly.

"Most of these people are long-term employees who are really committed to the company, but they don't feel the company is committed to them," he said.

"It's not the intention of the employees to disrupt the crush."

Bundaberg Sugar operations general manager David Pickering said the employees were asked not to return to shift because the mill employed relief workers to fill in for them during the strike action.

"Everything returned to normal at 4pm at the end of that shift," he said.

Another meeting is due to be held on Wednesday.

"We're still at that stalemate," Mr Pickering said.

"It's all just coming down to the issue with RDOs.

"If there is room for compromise, that would be great, but at the moment there's no movement on that."

He said the start of the crush had been delayed by a week due to wet weather, with Bingera to start on June 25 and Millaquin on June 27.