Industry News

The Truth about Teys Australia/Cargill

Is Teys Australia/Cargill a wholly owned Australian business?

No.  In fact, Teys Australia are apparently a little embarrassed by the fact that the ultimate holding company for the group, Teys Australia Pty Ltd, is 50% owned by the giant American food corporation, Cargills Inc.

Teys Australia representatives wrote to the Union recently and asked us to stop referring to them as Teys Australia/Cargills!  That was odd enough, but they wrote to us on letterhead that had a Teys Australia corporate logo, along with the words “A Cargill Joint Venture” emblazoned on it see link here.

Has the Union had problems with Teys Australia prior to the buyout by Cargills Inc?

Not really.  Over an extended period of time, the Queensland Branch of the AMIEU has reached dozens of agreements with the Teys group of companies applying to plants at Beenleigh, Biloela and Rockhampton.

The acquisition of 50% of Teys Australia Pty Ltd by Cargills Inc in September 2011 has apparently heralded a new approach to that relationship, characterised by aggressive attacks on working conditions and a willingness to employ media campaigns to attack the AMIEU and its members.

Why has the AMIEU opposed the 2013 enterprise agreement Teys Australia/Cargill have attempted to impose on the Beenleigh plant?

Put in simple terms, this new enterprise agreement resulted in overall reductions in earning compared to previous entitlements of between 5 – 13%.  This slash in earnings was never going to be made up by the wishy washy profit sharing scheme promised in the proposal.

Moreover, this fight is about democracy.  The Union’s fight in the Fair Work Commission and the Federal Court is about upholding democracy.  Only people who will be affected by the approval of an enterprise agreement have a right to vote on that agreement.

The disputed agreement in question applying to the Beenleigh plant was narrowly approved in 2013 by a vote of 359 in favour, 343 opposed.

Teys management drew up the roll of voters and did not consult with the Union about it.  In the Union’s opinion, they clearly stacked the roll with some ring-ins in anticipation of a close vote.

Included in the roll of voters were a number of trainee supervisors (17 in total) and other persons (4 in total) who were not, in the Union’s view, entitled to vote on the agreement.  The amount of non-eligible voters clearly could have affected the result.

Our members were outraged that trainee supervisors were given a vote on an agreement that clearly was intended to cover a blue collar workforce.

Is the Union holding up the payment of profit sharing bonuses under the 2013 enterprise agreement by its opposition in Fair Work Commission and the Federal Court?

No.  The so called profit sharing clause in the 2013 enterprise agreement reads as follows:

3.11 Profit Share Scheme

Upon the commencement of this Agreement, Teys Aust will extend to eligible employees covered by this Agreement and maintain for the life of this Agreement, a version of its existing salaried staff profit share scheme

This scheme will be based on the Beenleigh plant’s overall performance to budget during each financial year commencing 2013/2014 and will enable employees who as at 30 June each calendar year (commencing 2014) have completed at least twelve (12) months of continuous service, to achieve annual bonuses of up to 7.5% of their previous financial year gross earnings depending on the plant’s profit levels in the corresponding financial year.

Teys Aust will provide eligible employees with full details of the scheme and provide to the JCC regular updated details of the plants year to date performance to budget and so as to remove any doubt, the scheme may be amended at Teys Aust’s discretion and is not incorporated as a term of this Agreement.

 

            (emphasis added)

This profit sharing scheme is not a term of the 2013 agreement and is not affected by any of the current legal challenges launched by the AMIEU in the Federal Circuit Court/Federal Court.  Teys Australia Beenleigh can pay under the terms of this scheme at any time. 

That they are withholding payment in these circumstances indicates very clearly they are simply using the payments as blackmail to put pressure on the AMIEU and its members to withdraw its legal challenges to the 2013 enterprise agreement.