The Victorian Liberal Nationals are calling on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to immediately intervene to stop the proposed industrial action at SPC Ardmona’s Shepparton factory in the interest of Australia’s national food security during the coronavirus pandemic.
SPC Ardmona is Australia’s leading fruit, tomato, baked beans and spaghetti processing, packaging and canning company, with operations centred in the Goulburn Valley including manufacturing facilities in Shepparton.
Widespread panic-buying of non-perishable food such as canned goods by consumers due to the coronavirus has seen sales of SPC products in Coles and Woolworths increase by between 80-100 per cent.
The AMWU’s (Australian Manufacturing Workers Union) planned action at the factory will compromise SPC’s ability to produce and deliver quality products for Australian consumers, an unacceptable situation compounded by the great concerns caused by the coronavirus outbreak around the world.
Being in the middle of the tomato processing season, SPC Ardmona is seeking a six to eight week reprieve from any industrial action to ensure the delivery of quality produce. SPC is also committed to continuing to bargain in good faith with AMWU delegates.
The AMWU is part of the Labor Party. Andrews needs to pick up the phone to his mates at the AMWU and tell them to stop playing politics during this crisis.
Daniel Andrews must intervene in the dispute and ensure critical food supply items such as SPC products are excluded from industrial action by the AMWU.
Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:
“Andrews must intervene and bring this industrial action to an end.
“Labor earlier this year took action to stop industrial action that would have affected the Grand Prix, he must do the same at SPC.
“Daniel Andrews is once again acting like the Premier for Melbourne, not for Victoria. He took immediate action to stop a strike in Melbourne but has so far refused to so at this strike.”
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals, Peter Walsh:
“If this strike action is allowed to continue, tonnes of tomatoes will go to waste, threatening our local supply of tinned tomatoes.
“Daniel Andrews must step in like he did when the Melbourne Grand Prix was at risk and put an end to this strike action.”
Comments attributable to Member for Northern Victoria, Wendy Lovell:
“The Premier and his government must intervene and immediately exempt critical food production from any union industrial action during the coronavirus outbreak, to ensure the security of Australia’s food production.
“While I understand an EBA is currently being negotiated between the AMWU and SPC, the AMWU must acknowledge these planned stops will cause even greater uncertainty for consumers.”