WORKERS at JBS abattoir in Rockhampton voted to accept the company's offer at the weekend and ended more than 12 months of negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement.
Workers voted 194-185 in favour of the 3% pay rise, which now goes to Fair Work Australia to be ratified. Workers would then be back paid to August 2011 on a pro rata basis.
JBS managing director John Berry said there was a very high voter turnout at the weekend and yesterday defended criticism that workers in Rockhampton were paid less than workers at other JBS facilities.
"There are different types and different volumes of work across varying meat processing facilities … different levels of work required with the numbers of head or weights.
"The unions have been a signatory to all these agreements so there has been an accepting of fair conditions," he said.
Mr Berry said the company had stayed actively engaged with workers to ensure they understood what the offer entailed and to allow them to make a decision.
AMIEU industrial officer Lee Norris said while they were slightly disappointed, the vote was not the landslide or healthy majority predicted by company representatives.
"The AMIEU is currently collating all evidence from the ballot.
"At this stage I can't rule out the AMIEU opposing the approval of this proposed agreement before Fair Work Australia," Mr Lee said.
"One major area of concern is that the employer is bound to take reasonable steps to explain the agreement, and the effect of its terms."