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Queensland truck drivers in unique pay protest

Visy staff have begun industrial action in the form of an iconic TV catchphrase

Truck drivers and warehouse staff from a Visy recycling plant in Queensland are taking industrial action in a different way over management’s refusal to agree to a three per cent pay rise last week.

The Transport Workers’ Union Queensland branch says drivers and staff voted to take action in a fun way while also showing they mean business, as reported by The Guardian.

TWU Queensland director of organising Jared Abbott says the impacted truckies will don hi-vis pink clothing and will only use the phrase ‘Nanu Nanu’ when responding to bosses.

The phrase originates from the Orkan greeting first heard in the TV 1978-1982 comedy series Mork & Mindy.

Although a traditional 24-hour strike is still in the works, Abbott says the unique way of protesting over pay disputes can help keep staff in high spirits.

“I’m not entirely sure what the catalyst [for choosing ‘Nanu Nanu’] was, but the group thought it was a good idea and that’s the way democracies work,” Abbott says.

“It’s really just a fun way for us to have a strike.”

Abbott says the TWU were strongly supporting the approach but that the workers are still very serious about their goals and motives for using the catchphrase.

The TWU has already rejected a 1.5 per cent pay rise initially offered by Visy, instead making an application to the Fair Work Commission to take industrial action this week.

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Instead of the 1.5 per cent increase, the workers want a three per cent rise that they believe better suits growing inflation.

“They want the company to know they are serious and we’re willing to give them an opportunity to do the right thing,” Abbott says. “Otherwise, we’ll have to escalate.”

According to Abbott, Visy has made a profit during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning it’s only fair that the workers got a wage rise to match this growth.

“They’ve failed to put forward any reasonable increase for these guys,” he says.

“They’re offering two per cent while the inflation rate is at five per cent and in Brisbane it’s six per cent. They’re making good money.”

Guardian Australia says it contacted Visy but didn’t get a response, despite the company last month announcing it would invest $700 million on an expansion of its Queensland recycling and remanufacturing operations.

The move formed part of Visy executive chairman Anthony Pratt’s pledge last year to invest $2 billion in Australian recycling and clean energy infrastructure, with the funding going towards new container recycling and manufacturing projects in Queensland.

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