Pfizer's Perth employees strike over pay offers

Workers upset over pharmaceutical giant's 'substandard' pay

Pfizer's Perth employees strike over pay offers

Pfizer employees recently staged a walkout off their job at the company’s Perth manufacturing plant in protest of an alleged “substandard” wage offer.

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical giant argued it had offered its Perth-based employees a 5% pay increase this year, followed by a 4% and 3% rise in the following two years, The Canberra Times reported.

What led to the employees’ strike?

The report stated that Pfizer workers, through the United Workers Union, called for a combined 18% rise over the same period, drawing attention to the drugmaker’s $A32bil profit in 2021.

“Pfizer’s revenues have doubled in two years, largely on the back of the world’s taxpayers who forked out to have the COVID-19 vaccine distributed in their respective countries,” Louise Dillon, union allied coordinator, said.

The news outlet also reported that workers, on 9 August started 24 hours of industrial action, with the union warning members reserved the right to take an “indefinite action” unless the company increased its offer.

“Australians contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to Pfizer’s profit margins, but the company is insistent on squeezing every single dollar, even if it means screwing workers out of a fair pay deal,” Dillon said.

What does Pfizer have to say?

Across the past decade, Pfizer said it had delivered an above-inflation pay rise, according to The Canberra Times.

“Pfizer is working closely with the union to agree on an (enterprise bargaining agreement) that works for all employees, which offers fair and reasonable terms for wages and allowances, and addresses the increased cost of living,” a spokesperson told the news outlet.

“The latest pay increases are also in addition to an approximately 10 percent bonus payment delivered in April this year and a COVID-19 bonus payment last year,” the spokesperson added.

Following the issue, the report said that the two parties are “at odds” over redundancy payments as Pfizer plans to close the Bentley plant in 2024.

However, the news outlet said that the company dismissed a union accusation that workers could be short-changed when the facility closed and noted that uncapped redundancy terms stayed intact and exceeded those provided under national employment standards.

The report further revealed that products manufactured in Perth would be made at the company’s Melbourne site once the Bentley plant closes. 

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