Adelaide pharma workers go on strike

Some manufacturing workers at South Australian-based pharmaceutical company Mayne Pharma have gone on strike today in response to their most recent pay offer.

Sep 20, 2022, updated Sep 20, 2022
Stock photo: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

Stock photo: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

The United Workers Union and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union announced this morning that advanced manufacturing workers at Mayne Pharma began strike action at 6am today in response to a “below-inflation pay offer”.

The stop work, which includes a rally outside Mayne Pharma’s Salisbury South headquarters, will last for 24 hours.

The industrial action comes after Mayne Pharma’s string of poor financial results over the last few years, driven by poor performance of the company’s retail drugs division.

The ASX-listed pharmaceutical company posted a $266.3m loss for FY22 and a net loss of $208m in FY21. That came on top of a $92.8m loss in FY20 and $280m loss in FY19.

The union said it had offered to roll over workers’ current enterprise agreement in exchange for a pay rise in line with inflation to “work around some of the difficulties being felt by the company”.

But the union also pointed to a looming windfall for Mayne Pharma following its decision last month to sell off its US-based manufacturing arm, Metrics Contract Services, for $A679m.

“These workers have showed up during the height of the pandemic and through the ongoing turmoil of Australia’s weakened supply chains for pretty ordinary wages,” UWU Allied coordinator Louise Dillon said.

“The majority of the workers taking action and fighting for a better deal today have worked at Mayne for upwards of 20 years.

“A pay rise in line with CPI is really the least the company can offer.”

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The UWU said members reserved the right to take further industrial action if Mayne Pharma doesn’t increase their pay offer.

A spokesperson for Mayne Pharma said the company paid above award rates for enterprise agreement staff.

“For example, the production staff wage offer is on average 42 per cent above the applicable award,” the spokesperson said. 

“Our most experienced staff have been offered a rate 55 per cent above the award.” 

The spokesperson said the latest pay offer would keep staff 3.5 per cent above the consumer price index movement in Adelaide over the last five years, although not over this year’s CPI move of 6.4 per cent.

“We acknowledge the recent CPI movement and related cost of living. This is why it is important to consider inflation and wages over a period of time,” the spokesperson said. 

“Considering the last five years, our offer means our team remain 3.5 per cent above the Adelaide CPI for this period.

“To offset the cost of living circumstances, we have also offered a cost of living payment to soften the current impact.”

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