12 Mar 2012

AFFCO says plants operating despite strikes

1:51 pm on 12 March 2012

Meat company AFFCO says it is business as usual at its processing plants on Monday, despite strikes and lockouts at six of its eight sites.

About 700 members of the Meat Workers Union started a 48-hour strike at 5am in support of 1000 colleagues locked out by AFFCO management on 29 February after a breakdown in negotiations over a new employment agreement.

Another strike will be held on Wednesday at the Wiri and Napier plants which are not affected by the lockout.

The union and AFFCO are at odds over a new employment agreement.

AFFCO says proper disputes procedures must be followed, there needs to be proper drug testing, and management must be able to manage their factories.

Operations manager Rowan Ogg says the strikes will not make the company budge on that position and won't disrupt production.

But the Aotearoa branch secretary of the Meat Workers Union, Graham Cooke, says while the plants may be open, production will be suffering.

The union says AFFCO is trying to divide and casualise its workforce.

As part of the two-day strike, the union is launching an 0900-LOCKOUT phone number in a bid to raise funds for the locked-out workers.

Laurie Nankivell, a union representative who is locked-out of the Moerewa plant in Northland, says that will help those who are beginning to fall behind on bills.

AFFCO says its plants are operating with workers on individual contracts.