Unionised Tegel staff push for 5pc

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 09:29 29/11/2012
Union workers at the Tegal factory in New Plymouth may strike if pay conditions don't improve.

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The threat of strike action hangs over Tegel's Taranaki operations for another day after pay talks with its 230 unionised workers ended without result last night.

Tegel's Taranaki Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) workers held a meeting in the cafeteria of the Bell Block factory yesterday and resolved to strike if a resolution to their pay dispute could not be found.

Workers wanted a pay increase that would put them on the road to achieving parity with their Christchurch colleagues.

It is understood their Christchurch counterparts get up to 8 per cent more pay.

Taranaki union workers are believed to have asked for a 5 per cent wage increase while the company, which has been in negotiations with members for more than six months since their collective contract expired in May, is understood to have initially offered 2.5 per cent.

Workers voted to reject this yesterday morning, but returned to work when the company agreed to take the negotiations to mediation.

EPMU lead organiser Wayne Ruscoe said he would meet the company again this morning and would address workers at 9am to present the outcome of talks so far.

He said workers were in a militant mood and had been adamant they would strike if their demands were not met.

"There are two parts to it. One, the staff here: The rates of pay and conditions are inferior to the Christchurch staff at Tegel. However, we have agreed to try and settle that issue on the side.

"We are now just talking about a wage rise and what size that wage rise should be.

"You would appreciate these people aren't paid very much. We are asking for a living wage as opposed to a minimum wage."

Of the 500 or so Tegel employees in Taranaki, about 230 belong to the union.

It is understood Tegel's large Bell Block processing factory cannot operate at full capacity without its unionised employees.

Tegel staff at the Bell Block factory would not comment to the Daily News yesterday, referring the newspaper to an Auckland public relations firm, PPR.

Yesterday, a representative of PPR confirmed pay negotiations had gone to mediation and workers had returned to the factory floor.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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