17 Dec 2010

Payment during two-minute silence not an issue - union

12:06 pm on 17 December 2010

The president of the Meatworkers Union says he is confident that the majority of workers at the Te Aroha plant did not expect to be paid for stopping work to observe two-minute silence for the men killed in the Pike River Coal mine.

The workers are paid for each animal they process and lost on average about $1 each by not processing two animals.

Mike Nahu says the union declined the company's offer to for the workers to process the two animals at the end of the day as overtime, because he says observing the silence was a mark of respect to the Pike River men.

Mr Nahu says the union requested that the silence be observed and he hasn't had one call of complaint from any worker about the loss of money.

Silver Fern Farms says there was no conscious decision to not pay workers for the two minute period.

It says the workers were paid on daily tallies and payment was automatically generated by an administration system.

On 4 December the plant was extensively damaged by fire. Many of the 350 staff have been offered jobs another of the company's plants.