Chicken shortages could hit some of Australia’s most popular brands including McDonald’s and Woolworths after workers at a major poultry supplier voted to walk off the job on Friday over a pay dispute.
More than 1000 Inghams workers are pursuing industrial action across at the producer’s Western Australia and South Australian facilities following a breakdown in pay negotiations.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and United Workers Union want a 6 per cent pay increase each year for the next three years something AMWU state secretary Steve McCartney said the ASX-listed company could “easily afford.”
“Inghams reported a $60.4m profit last financial year which was a 72 per cent increase on the previous year,” he said.
“Our members are only asking for about an extra $1.50 an hour to keep up with the cost of living.
“Not only are they refusing to offer their workers a pay rise but they have started using intimidation tactics to stop our members from taking protected industrial action.
“It’s appalling behaviour, when all these workers are asking for is a fair wage.”
Inghams has a market capitalisation of $1.25bn and supplies chicken to Woolworths, Coles, Aldi, KFC, McDonalds and Subway.
The stoppage began at 12.01am on Friday and will run through to midnight.
The union said the action would likely cause shortages to the company’s customers.
A KFC spokesman confirmed the fast-food icon was working on “contingency plans” with Inghams to maintain supply to its Western Australian and South Australian stores.
“While the strike is taking place, we don’t expect any impact to chicken supply across our restaurants,” he said.
Mr McCartney said Inghams has been “standing over workers” and threatening a lock out.
“We say enough is enough and it’s time to act,” he said.
The union said it would not rule out further strikes in the dispute.
Inghams has been contacted for comment.