10 Sep 2009

Mediation fails in cheese factory dispute

12:40 pm on 10 September 2009

Mediation talks between Open Country Dairy and the Dairy Workers Union have failed to resolve a push for a collective agreement for union members at the company's Waharoa plant in Waikato.

Compulsory mediation was held on Wednesday in an attempt to avoid a strike by the union, as well as a six-week lockout notice signalled by the company.

The union says the company is refusing to negotiate a collective agreement.

Open Country has accused the union of holding it to ransom at a time when security of the workforce is essential to the industry.

Dairy Workers Union national secretary James Ritchie says he will meet members on Thursday to seek their feedback.

He says the company is also planning a meeting with the workers next week.

Mr Ritchie says an eight-day strike is timed to start next Wednesday and a six-week lockout would begin the following week.

The starting date for the lockout was meant to be next Friday, but has been put back after Open Country had to re-issue the notice for legal reasons.