AFFCO locks out staff 'indefinitely'
Wed, 29 Feb 2012 6:22p.m.
By Tony Reid
One of the country’s largest meat works company has locked out hundreds of its staff – and for an indefinite period.
AFFCO and the Meat Workers Union are at an impasse over a new collective agreement, but the union says the lockout is an overreaction.
Barred from their workplace, 220 workers came to the race course in Whanganui today to discuss their plight.
“We don’t really want to be locked out, because we want our jobs,” one worker told 3 News.
Another said he had “bills to pay” but believed in the cause.
“And I believe what the company is doing is wrong.”
AFFCO has locked out 776 meat workers from five of its North Island processing plants.
At issue is the “company’s right to determine with flexibility the setting of manning and process line speeds”.
“Random drug testing procedures not to be further undermined by the union in any way”
And it says the “Meat Workers Union demands are archaic and unrealistic”
The union says it is happy to discuss worker flexibility – within reason.
“Let’s just make formal agreements of that process so they haven’t got the ability to reduce people’s pay willy-nilly,” says union boss Dave Eastlake.
The union says AFFCO has locked out some of its most senior people.
People like Thomas Napier, who has worked at AFFCO for 43 years.
“It’s quite stressful. Not just for me, but we’ve got a long of young workers. Financially it’s going to hurt a lot of people in the pocket,” he says.
Everyone 3 News talked to today said they wanted to get back to work.
The lockout means that’s not possible, so they’ll be going to WINZ instead.
AFFCO hasn’t shut down completely; some union staff – chosen at random – and non-union staff are keeping production going.
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