Around 100 meat workers in Rangatikei – a provincial township in the Manawatu area – were locked out by Canterbury Meat Packers (CMP) ten days ago.
According to a CTU release the company is attempting to require the union (New Zealand Meat Workers Union) to sign up to a 20-30% wage decrease before any return to work. We also understand that the company is trying to disestablish the 35-hour week and increase the weekly hours of work per employee.
Traditionally the meat industry has contained a powerful section of the workers movement in New Zealand. Because of this the bosses have consciously attacked meat industry employment conditions over the past few decades. Generally the meat industry has been an area in which militant workers and some sections of the left have worked hard to extend and uphold conditions. The 35-hour week (which is particularly important in the meat industry given the physical demand of the work) is an example of these efforts.
The CMP bosses announced record profits last year. This is obviously a strategic attack. By maintaining the lockout they appear to be ‘digging in’.
The bosses cannot be allowed to win as this would make a precedent for further attacks on the working class particularly in the meat industry.
Unions are encouraging local and Wellington people to attend the week-day picket line and give donations of food and supplies. Additional picket line infrastructure is also required such as trailers, gazebos, etc.
The CTU has set up a dispute fund for contributions. The account number is 38-9007-0894028-08.
Initially Workers Party has donated $200 and members will be collecting, including amongst dairy industry workers in Hamilton and at Occupy Wellington. We pledge to increase our donation to a modest $500 over the next few days. We also urge all New Zealand readers of this website who are in comfortable employment to donate the equivalent of one day’s pay.