Mo­erewa meat work­ers first to vote

The Northern Advocate - - FRONT PAGE - By Lindy Laird

Mo­erewa meat work­ers were the first in the coun­try to tell their union what they wanted to hap­pen next af­ter Af­fco’s in­tended lock­out of more than 700 work­ers at its five North Is­land plants.

Af­fco meat com­pany has threat­ened to lock out more than 700 staff across the North Is­land af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions over a col­lec­tive agree­ment col­lapsed.

That ac­tion has seen the New Zealand Meat Work­ers Union ac­cus­ing Af­fco of try­ing to starve its work­ers into sub­mis­sion, and Labour and Green politi­cians ex­press­ing outrage.

New Zealand Meat Work­ers Union na­tional pres­i­dent Mike Nahu was at Mo­erewa yes­ter­day, when he met about 122 work­ers to dis­cuss the is­sues and pro­cesses that have led to the lock-out, and to hold a bal­lot over what ac­tion the union should take.

Only about 20 work­ers at the Mo­erewa plant are not mem­bers. Mo­erewa is cur­rently work­ing two shifts, one of them split.

While Mo­erewa was first off the blocks, Mr Nahu said that by to­mor­row evening he would have also vis­ited the Manawatu, Whanganui, Ho­ratiu and Wairoa plants and the vote would be com­pleted. The union would not pro­pose any ac­tion un­til then.

Af­fco, which is owned by Tal­leys Group Ltd, served no­tices at all eight New Zealand plants af­ter 18 months of bick­er­ing with the union over a col­lec­tive con­tract agree­ment. Only the five North Is­land plants have been threat­ened with a l ock- out to­mor­row.

Af­fco says that no­tice came af­ter five days of failed dis­cus­sions with the union, and a fur­ther day with a me­di­a­tor present. Those talks fol­lowed a se­ries of chal­lenges from the union, via the Em­ploy­ment Au­thor­ity and Em- ploy­ment Court, con­test­ing Af­fco’s op­er­a­tional man­age­ment.

At present, there are nine chal­lenges still ac­tive.

The crux of the is­sue is the com­pany in­sist­ing on its right to de­ter­mine the flex­i­bil­ity and speed of the pro­cess­ing lines, and its ac­cu­sa­tion that the union is not stick­ing to proper dis­pute res­o­lu­tion pro­to­cols.

‘‘The com­pany is fight­ing as to who man­ages Af­fco. Es­sen­tially, it is a strug­gle over man­age­ment con­trol,’’ Af­fco chief ex­ec­u­tive Hamish Sim­son said. ‘‘Man­age­ment is seek­ing to draw a line on union in­flu­ence in the work­place.’’

The state­ment ac­cused the union of seek­ing greater work­place power and be­ing ‘‘ar­chaic and un­re­al­is­tic’’.

Union sec­re­tary Dave East­lake said the com­pany was try­ing to starve work­ers into ac­cept­ing changes to its col­lec­tive em­ploy­ment agree­ment, giv­ing the com­pany to­tal flex­i­bil­ity in its terms of em­ploy­ment.

Labour’s spokes­woman for labour is­sues, Darien Fen­ton, said the lock-out no­tice was an­other in­di­ca­tion of wors­en­ing in­dus­trial re­la­tions in New Zealand, and likened it to the Ports of Auck­land dis­pute.

‘ ‘ Lock­ing out the en­tire work­force across the coun­try is ex­treme,’’ Ms Fen­ton said.

She said there ap­peared to be a grow­ing push by some em­ploy­ers to ‘‘ca­su­alise and de-unionise their work­places’’.

Green Party in­dus­trial re­la­tions spokesper­son Denise Roche said the Af­fco work­ers should not have to ac­cept ‘‘ca­su­al­i­sa­tion’’ of their jobs. Bike North­land is propos­ing set­ting up a multi-sport hub on Whangarei’s Pohe Is­land and has ap­proached na­tional fund­ing body Sparc to try to progress the plan.

Stu Bell, from Bike North­land, said Sparc had ac­cepted an ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est from the sport­ing body for fund­ing to ex­plore the idea of set­ting up a sports hub on Pohe Is­land.

The first stage, if Sparc fund­ing to em­ploy a co-or­di­na­tor was granted, would be to bring the var­i­ous sport­ing groups to­gether, come up with a plan and seek fund­ing from lo­cal and na­tional bod­ies.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Bike North­land and other groups have been work­ing with Whangarei Dis­trict Coun­cil staff to see how they could max­imise the po­ten­tial of Pohe Is­land, which is just min­utes from the city cen­tre.

Other sports and groups that have expressed an in­ter­est in be­ing part of the sports hub in­clude BMX, bas­ket­ball, triathlon and multi-sports, ori­en­teer­ing and kick box­ing. The North­land Rugby Union is also in­ter­ested in set­ting up a flood­lit train­ing pitch on Pohe Is­land, which is the the site of the old dis­trict rub­bish dump.

WDC has a man­age­ment plan for Pohe Is­land, which sees it as an open re­cre­ation space and has iden­ti­fied cy­cling as one of the likely ac­tiv­i­ties. BMX is al­ready based on the site, while Mad­hat­ters Foot­ball Club has it’s clu­b­room and pitch there.

‘‘We want to help de­velop a vi­sion of where Pohe Is­land will be in 20 to 50 years time. We see a sports hub as fit­ting in well with the man­age­ment plan and will help get peo­ple up and ac­tive,’’ Mr Bell said.

‘‘A sport hub is a new con­cept, but they are do­ing them in other parts of the coun­try, and one is be­ing iden­ti­fied for Kaikohe’s Lind­vart Park. We need to get that

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.