Five decades of union membership

Five decades of union membership

United Voice member Dimitrio Tsipianitis, affectionately known as Jimmy, has reached an amazing milestone.

He has been a United Voice member for over 50 years.

Jimmy started work at Metro Milk in 1967, and joined the union straight away.

Almost 52 years later, Jimmy is still working at the same site (now the Clarence Garden Dairy Factory) doing the same job.

As a young man, Jimmy was lured to Australia from Greece by scouts to continue his professional soccer career.

Even as a professional soccer player for the Adelaide Hellas Soccer Club, he needed to find work to supplement his income.

Jimmy started as a pasteuriser at Metro Milk on 21 March 1967.

To this day he is employed in the same crucial role as a pasteuriser operator.

Jimmy is responsible for the process that kills any bacteria in the raw milk, which is critical to prevent food poisoning and is strictly legislated.

“There are only two dairies in South Australia, so we supply milk to half of the state.

“That means working seven days a week, at all hours of the day.

When other states have experienced disasters such as bushfires, floods, or plant breakdowns, Jimmy has put in the extra work and given up his family time on weekends and public holidays to make sure no one goes without.

“Australian families need milk. When other states can’t keep up, we supply it during times of crisis.

“Transporting milk around the country is difficult, because it has to be kept at a controlled temperature.

“To get milk from Adelaide across the country, it is driven by truck, which means hours in sometimes hot weather.

“That’s my job: I pasteurise the milk to make sure it’s safe to drink, then I make it as cold as possible (0.5 degrees Celsius) before it gets packed on the trucks. That will keep it at a chilled temperature for the duration of the long drive.”

As an estimate, Jimmy would have processed close to 2.5 billion litres of milk over the last 50 years.

“I’ve been a union member since I started work.

“I’ve been happy to be a part of the union, because it has meant security for me and my co-workers.

“Together we negotiated better conditions through bargaining agreements.

“I enjoy my job, and get along well with my co-workers.

“I’ve been all over the world. I would say Australia, and Adelaide especially, is one of the best places in the world to live and work.”

Jimmy is still a big soccer fan. He loves to watch the World Cup and barrack for Australia.

He was recently recognised for his long service by the Australian Soccer Referees Federation and Football Federation Australia.

For his committed and exemplary service as a pasteuriser, Jimmy has received Certificates of Congratulations from Federal Members of Parliament, a Letter of Recognition from Parmalat, and numerous Certificates and nominations from his local Onkaparinga Council.

Jimmy’s son Andrew is very proud of his father’s achievements.

“My father likes working with people, and he goes above and beyond the call of duty.

“If it wasn’t for people like my father working on weekends, they wouldn’t have had any milk in Darwin after the cyclone this year.”

Jimmy has seen many changes over his career. The site where he works as changed ownership four times.

He has always kept up with the latest technology and training, as well as being a trainer, teacher and mentor to his co-workers to pass on the benefit of his unequalled experience.

Jimmy’s workmates know him as a loyal and committed worker and friend.

After more than five decades, Jimmy is still working at the dairy.

When asked how he does it, Jimmy’s answer is always the same: “It’s respect and love for what I do and the community I serve that has led me to achieve this milestone.”