A heated dispute has erupted over an ongoing strike by maintenance workers at the Burnie facility of multinational dairy processor Saputo.
Saputo workers in Tassie call for cheese boycott in pay dispute

A heated dispute has erupted over an ongoing strike by maintenance workers at the Burnie facility of multinational dairy processor Saputo. The workers, who have been striking for nearly a month, are demanding wage parity, claiming they earn 21% less than their counterparts on the mainland who perform the same job.

In response to the pay disparity, the striking workers have called for a national boycott of Saputo products, including popular brands such as Mersey Valley, Tasmanian Heritage, South Cape, and Devondale.

Braddon Federal Liberal MP Gavin Pearce has criticized the unions and workers, arguing that the boycott would negatively impact Saputo’s 450 Tasmanian employees, including 240 workers on the North-West Coast and 130 regional suppliers who produce approximately 300 million liters of milk annually. Pearce condemned the strike as a “cheap political stunt” by union leaders, urging consumers to disregard the boycott.

However, Mike Wickham, the Tasmanian state organizer for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, fired back at Pearce, accusing him of lacking understanding in industrial relations. Wickham argued that it was inappropriate for the Member for Braddon to side with a multinational corporation over local workers’ concerns.

The situation remains tense as both sides stand firm in their positions, with the union continuing to push for fair wages and the MP emphasizing the broader economic impact on the local community.

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