Meatworkers OK pay cut

TERRI RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 01/11/2012
Blue Sky Meats workers
TERRI RUSSELL/Fairfax NZ

ON TENTERHOOKS: Blue Sky Meats workers at the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club last night ready to vote on whether or not they accept proposed wage cuts.

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Meatworkers at Blue Sky Meats voted in favour of wage cuts of up to $30 a day at a Meat Workers' Union meeting in Invercargill last night.

About 150 workers submitted a secret-ballot vote on whether they accepted the proposed cuts.

Boning room workers agreed to cuts of about $30 a day, slaughter workers about $28 a day and $18 for labourers.

Meat Workers' Union general secretary Gary Davis said the boning room was strongly in favour but the slaughter room, which did vote in favour, was a close call.

"There's a lot of opposition to the wage cuts but I think everyone realises these are difficult times and they want to keep their job," he said.

"All I can say is they're still getting paid better than any other meat company in Southland; they just have to work a bit harder."

An agreement had been reached on new shift structures which meant 70 jobs had gone.

The weekend slaughter shift would be axed and the two weekend boning shifts would be merged.

Slaughter workers would work 5 days and get paid for 4.75 instead of 4 days, which was put forward by the company.

The company was in the position to reconfigure because of a lack of livestock, Mr Davis said.

One worker who voted against the proposal said it was a step backwards. "We're never going to get it [the money] back."

Another worker, who voted yes to the proposal, said it was probably as good as they were going to get. "I don't think it's going to get any better."

The union will meet company representatives today to discuss the results. Meat Workers' Union officials will meet in Palmerston North next week to discuss changes in the meat industry.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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