The Guardian July 26, 2000


Heinz means offshore

by Magda Hansson

Heinz will close its Dandenong food plant by November making more than 200 
workers redundant. The factory had been in operation since 1955 and 
originally employed 1500 workers.

The decision was made in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA not to spend $25 
million in upgrading the plant and to transfer production to New Zealand 
where wage rates are 20 per cent lower.

The Hastings, New Zealand plant is relatively new and has also recently 
absorbed all of Heinz's Japanese based production.

Ray Campbell, the acting Food Division Secretary of the Australian 
Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) said, "Last year Heinz told us they 
were going to make Dandenong the centre of world excellence for baked beans 
and soups.

"Now they tell us that they are going to close the plant down and push 200 
loyal workers out the door. That's honesty for you. Companies like these 
are a law unto themselves."

The AMWU and other unions at the Heinz factory are demanding that the 
company negotiate a closure agreement that includes six weeks pay for every 
year of service, retraining and counselling.

These benchmarks were set recently by the Ford and Daimler-Chrysler lay-
offs.

Heinz is currently only offering a severance package of eight weeks pay 
plus four weeks pay for every year of service.

The unions want to block removal of the plant machinery to New Zealand if 
Heinz refuses to negotiate a better deal for their former workers. Many 
people have been at the company for more than 25 years.

Martin Foley, the President of the Australian Services Union said, "This is 
free trade versus fair trade. But what is fair to the workers of Dandenong? 
Most of them are aged over 35 and some are a lot older. How are they going 
to find work? The company doesn't care."

Remember dear readers, you do not have to buy Heinz-Wattie's products if 
you do no like their globalisation strategies and their treatment of their 
workers and the communities they operate in.

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