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News 409 views update:Jan 12, 2010

Hazeldene workers agree to overtime ban

More than 250 workers at poultry processing factory of Hazeldene near Bendigo in Victoria, Australia have voted to start an overtime ban next week.

The National Union of Workers held a vote for workers at Hazeldenes Chicken Farms' processing plant in Lockwood and the union's state secretary, Antony Thow, says after three months of pay negotiations, workers are fed up.
"From Tuesday next week there will be an overtime ban at Hazeldenes, unless the company improves its offer," he said. "I think the workers want to send a clear message to the Hazeldenes company, that they've worked hard but they want an increase."

Minimal pay rise

Thow said Hazeldenes is only offering a 2% salary increase, which would make the workers still earn well less than the industry standard. "The union is not going to accept it."

Earlier, John Hazeldene, the company's managing director, said he is confident workers will not vote to strike.

He said the union is being misleading by comparing country and city rates of pay without comparing living costs.
"The cost of living is always higher but the one that's more closely to our size and other family-run businesses our size - that's 15% below our offer," he said.

Fake letters

The National Union of Workers last week said it believes Hazeldene had faked a letter to encourage workers to resign from the union.

"We've had it on good opinion that what Hazeldenes did last week could have breached freedom of association provisions of the new legislation," Thow said. "We'll be consulting with our lawyers, and could take further action."

Natalie Berkhout

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