Australian poultry workers, consumers being put at risk by increasing demands to produce cheap poultry, report claims

VICTORIA, Australia , April 2, 2012 (press release) – Poultry Delegates from across Victoria launched a Discussion Paper about the industry they work in today at the NUW offices in Victoria today.

Gabriel Ayuen, now studying Community Development at University, worked at a Victorian poultry processing facility for many years and was an NUW delegate there. He spoke of living in Sudan and coming to Australia from Kenya for a better way of life. He said he wanted to contribute to the ongoing prosperity of this country, but some things needed to change in the poultry industry to protect workers and people that eat chicken in Australia. He spoke about problems with health and safety, and also being disrespected and bullied.

“Standard procedures need to be put in place across the whole poultry industry; workers can be united to help improve things for everyone,” Mr Ayuen said.

National Secretary Charlie Donnelly launched the Discussion paper and spoke of the importance of a code of conduct for the industry. Mr Donnelly said that there are increased hazards for workers, their families and consumers, when there is an extreme reliance on labour-hire and contract workers.

Victorian Branch Secretary Tim Kennedy also introduced Luke Martin, an NUW delegate from another poultry site in Victoria. Mr Martin told unionists, politicians, poultry company representatives, supporters and the press his story about getting organised at work for minimum entitlements. After writing a letter to his company regarding award rates, he and his fellow workers joined the NUW and worked with the company to secure permanent jobs and better working conditions.

Mr Martin and all the poultry delegates gathered to endorse the campaign for Better Jobs for Better Chicken and acknowledged the different people that came to help launch the discussion paper, especially those MPs that attended – Jaala Pulford, Robin Scott, Bronwyn Halfpenny and Don Nardella – who they hope will follow and continue to support the campaign.

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