A shadowy astroturf group led by two Liberal Party operatives has emerged to bend public opinion in the bitter Baiada Poultry workplace dispute.
A press release was distributed yesterday on behalf of a so-called "People Power Group" comprising "non-union" employees of the chicken processor, which is locked in a stand-off with its unionised workforce over wages and conditions.
The NUW has erected a picket line around the company's Laverton North plant, which has been shutdown since last Wednesday.
While it didn't refer to any individual by name, the release spruiking a "peaceful" counter-protest at Julia Gillard's Altona office included the mobile phone number and personal email address of one-time Liberal Higgins hopeful Jason Aldworth.
Yesterday afternoon, Aldworth arrived at the PM's digs accompanied by former Maribyrnong Liberal candidate Hamish Jones, who was disendorsed in 2007 for branding then-state Labor transport minister Lynne Kosky a "bitch" and a "f-ckwit" on his personal blog.
The duo oversaw the delivery of "poster-sized" petition to the Prime Minister. About 25 protesters waved placards daubed with phrases like "I want to go to work", which looked to have been cheaply produced at Officeworks.
When they arrived they were confronted by NUW members, 220 of whom are on strike.
understands many "People Power" members were reluctant to protest and had to have their arm twisted by Aldworth to confront their fellow employees. Some are believed to be supervisors, Baiada contractors or disenfranchised ex-Meatworkers still smarting from a previous demarcation dispute with the union.