Meat workers at the latest Affco plant to be locked out are concerned new workers’ safety is being put at risk to undermine the union.
Talley’s locked out 200 workers at the Rangiuru freezing works near Te Puke at 5am, taking the total number of locked out meat workers nationwide to 1000.
Protestors outside the Rangiuru freezing works this morning.
There are 150 workers striking in solidarity with the workers outside the plant with over 750 striking at the company’s seven other North Island plants.
The company locked out 750 workers last Wednesday and previously said it wouldn’t lock out any more workers.
The Rangiuru site president for the Meat Workers Union is Kaipara McGarvey, 47, from Tuhoe, and he is a lamb cutter.
“This dispute isn’t about pay or anything like that, it’s about getting rid of the union,” he says.
“Talley’s is a well-known anti-union company and we all feel it’s pretty low that they’d stoop to putting new workers’ safety at risk just to undermine us.”
Rakai Tamihana, 39, from Nga Tamanuihiri, is a boner in his third season.
He joined the union when he started in 2010 and was quickly approached by the company.
“The company pressured me out of the union and put my safety at risk to undermine union workers,” he says.
“They took me into a room and offered me $1000 and three per cent pay rise to pull out; then they put me on the slaughterfloor without any training where I got an electric shock from the railing.
“I felt like a guinea pig – they only put me there to create division with the skilled workers who were all in the union.”
Rariri Potaka, 48, from Ngati Waitaha, has worked at the plant for 18 years.
He is a supervisor (leader hand) on mutton slaughter.
“I was threatened with disciplinary action for refusing to put a new starter who had only been at the plant four hours on the chain,” he says.
“Mutton slaughter is a dangerous job and we don’t wear protective clothing or mesh gloves because of contamination issues.
“I was willing to put my job on the line so I wouldn’t risk the workers’ safety.”
Potaka says new staff are labourers and usually work up to skilled jobs through years of training.