McCain staff lose case

Jobs. Nine Smithton-based workers have lost their case with the Fair Work Commission, which will see them remain in the workplace instead of being made redundant.

The McCain Foods boiler/refrigeration attendants asked to be made redundant in order to “follow their trade elsewhere”, after their positions were altered due to a new upgrade in the workplace.

In September, the workers were told they would work in the boiler/refrigeration area 50 per cent of the time, and spend the remainder in the french fry plant.

However, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union acting on behalf of the employees, argued the workers were not being offered “adequate alternative” duties and should therefore be offered redundancies.

It was also noted there would be a decrease in wages, due to the shorter shifts in the fry plant.

With five positions available in the boiler/refrigeration area, CFMEU Victorian/Tasmanian secretary Bill White argued four workers should be made redundant, however McCain Foods did not want to reduce its workforce and lose the skilled employees.

When handing down his decision, the commissioner said the employees would remain in their desired roles for 50 per cent of their time at work, with training and support given to take on the new role in the fry plant.

The case was heard in Smithton and Burnie over February and March, and the decision was handed down last week.

Mr White said he was “surprised by the decision”, suggesting previous cases had seen rulings in favour of staff, allowing them to choose packages over work in alternate areas.

Mr White met with the employees today (Wednesday July 2) to discuss their options.

He said the situation was causing “a lot of stress amongst them”.

The workers are due to start their training on Monday.

A spokesperson for McCain Foods said the decision was a welcome one.

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