Workers at the International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) factory in Dandenong have won a significant victory following a four-day occupation.

Members of the National Union of Workers (NUW) had been engaged in enterprise bargaining since September last year. IFF management offered a 55c an hour pay rise whilst also cuttings two ten minute breaks and $50 a day for unclaimed sick leave. But after the occupation, workers have won a 6.3 per cent pay rise and saved all their paid breaks and sick leave provisions.

The greed of IFF was obvious to workers. Tony, an NUW delegate, told Solidarity magazine, “From last time we negotiating they (IFF) made $930 million profit and the value of their shares has doubled. We are being offered 55 cents an hour. They want to take sick leave and all that for 55 cents an hour”.

Workers began protected industrial action by refusing to process paperwork, essentially shutting down the functioning of the food factory. Management responded by sending home a night-shift worker who was refusing to process paperwork. The next morning, workers arrived at the gates to find themselves locked out. So twenty-six workers snuck in and began an occupation of the canteen.

Over the four days IFF workers maintained the occupation, including one worker with a six-week-old child. Along with a picket outside the site, other unions as well as the local community showed solidarity by bringing food and bedding.

Their determination paid off with victory. The strength of the existing union membership in the workplace was key, with only five or six workers out of 60 workers not in the union.

By Feiyi Zhang

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