‘Biggest dairy strike in living memory’ sparks Vic milk shortage fears

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Milk tank drivers and thousands of dairy workers will proceed with industrial action across Victoria this week, sparking fears the strikes could spill over into milk and cheese shortages.

The United Workers Union (UWU) said the “biggest dairy strike in living memory” will occur on Wednesday as workers call for increased pay and better working conditions.

The UWU has accused dairy producers such as Devondale, Western Star and Peters of refusing to share “booming” profits with workers, who were offered pay rises as low as 1.5 per cent.

“Big Dairy has pushed us too far!” the UWU said in a statement published to social media.

“Workers aren’t even asking for inflation level wage increases, just something that brings them a little closer.”

More than 1400 workers will take action against four major dairy processors across 14 sites, sparking fears ongoing disruptions could cause shortages of milk, cheese and yoghurt.

According to the ABC, the 14 sites include Leongatha, Longwarry and Darnum in eastern Victoria as well as Mulgrave and Laverton in Melbourne.

Milk tank drivers, supported by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), stopped work early this morning in the Maffra and Leongatha region.

The Saputo drivers are striking against proposed shift change notifications and work start times under a new enterprise bargaining agreement as well as for higher pay.

Farmers are concerned they may be forced to dump milk due to storage capacity constraints caused by their supply not being picked up as scheduled as well as the increased amount of milk produced by cows in spring.

One UWU member said in an emotional video posted to Facebook that some dairy workers still receive Centrelink payments despite working five days a week.

Strikes will begin on Wednesday at 6am, while it remains unclear whether any disruptions to milk supply can be expected.

The UWU and TWU have both been contacted for comment.

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