Agreement ends sugar showdown

TEN months of discussion and industrial action may finally have come to an end, with Bundaberg Sugar workers accepting the company's enterprise bargaining agreement on Saturday.

With just weeks to go before the crush is over, Australian Workers' Union (AWU) central district secretary Keith Ballin said the two-and-a-half-hour meeting ended with a show of hands to accept the company's proposal.

“The employees accepted the proposal from the company and they were very disappointed in the (Bundaberg Sugar) negotiation team on behalf of management,” he said.

“It doesn't take 10 months to put an agreement together.

“There needs to be more maturity displayed when talking about working conditions for 400 people.”

Negotiations began last year and have been peppered with industrial action during this year's crush and intervention by the Fair Work Australia commissioner.

Industrial action in August was sparked by a dispute over workers' travel leave entitlements.

The AWU implemented rolling stoppages and other stop-work measures, which resulted in Millaquin and Bingera mills ceasing operations in the middle of the cane season.

Mr Ballin said it was a relief to reach a conclusion.

“(The EBA negotiations) has just taken up so much of everyone's time and tested their resolve,” he said.

He said as a requirement of law workers must now formally vote through a ballot, to accept or reject the proposal.

Bundaberg Sugar spokeswoman Leone Aslett said the company hoped that through a formal vote an agreement would be reached.

“Obviously we're hoping it will go through so it sees an end to the disputes,” she said.

“We're just focused on getting our crush finished for the season, as are all the cane growers.”

Ms Aslett said the crush would finish about November 2.

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