Striking Baiada workers set the example for international students

UNITE activist and international student Triet working with striking Vietnamese workersUNITE members, organisers and activists have been down at the Baiada Poultry picket line, supporting striking factory workers in their fight for safe working conditions, a 5% pay rise and an end to casualisation and off the books work.

Baiada is a disgrace. At this Laverton North factory there are daily injuries, workers can get paid $7-10/hour, international students are deliberately overworked then corralled into dodgy arrangements, women are sexually harassed on a daily basis, and most outrageously a worker named Sorel Singh was decapitated last year when management refused to turn off a machine while it was cleaned.

Baiada is yet another toxic example of why visa condition 8105 – the 20-hour rule (and its future form, the 40-hour fortnight) – must be abolished. All restrictions on the working lives of international students and immigrants allow employers to manipulate them into unsafe and criminally low-paid work. This then lowers the standards for all workers who must compete. UNITE has said it time and time again: this is an absurd, government-sanctioned race to the bottom that has to stop.

UNITE activist and international student Triet (pictured above) has been leading the striking Baiada workers in declaring ‘Công nhân ta đoàn kết lại, sẽ không bao giờ bị đánh bại!’ (‘the workers united will never be defeated!’). These workers are setting the perfect example for all international students, immigrants and workers in general. This is how we have to fight exploitation at work: organise collectively and hurt the bosses’ profits to force them to take us seriously. We can’t wait for rights to be granted to organise, we have to organise to win rights!

UNITE urges all of its members and supporters to get down to the picket (Pipe Road, Laverton) and support this bold strike.