Meat workers union lists huge pay cuts
Blue Sky Meats workers have been asked to agree to new wage structures or else take an up to 35 per cent wage cut, the meatworkers union says.
Meat Workers' Union Otago Southland secretary Gary Davis said the union had accepted that up to 70 jobs would be lost, but they were at a "stalemate" over wage cuts.
The company had asked workers to do a 10-hour shift five days a week instead of four days a week for the same weekly earnings, which would equate to a 17 per cent wage cut, he said. The union had responded with a wage cut proposal of about half that but that had been turned down.
The union had accepted that the weekend shift would be axed.
A notice at the plant says the plant would revert to previous shift operations and workers would be forced to take a cut if the new wage structures were not accepted.
It would mean a 25 per cent wage cut for slaughtermen and slaughter labourers and a 35 per cent cut for boners and boning labourers, the notice says.
"They're trying to put the fear of hell in everyone," Mr Davis said.
A union meeting would be held with workers on October 24 to decide what they wanted to do, he said.
However Blue Sky Meats chairman Graham Cooney said no decisions had been finalised about shift or wage cuts because they had not received a "vote" from workers about the company's proposal.
"It's a package that they [workers and union] have to vote on," he said.
Workers might be asked to work more hours which could include a five day week rather than four and each shift would be about 8.5 hours, he said.
He would not comment on the proposed 17 per cent wage cut and said no decision was made on redundancy packages.
The plant would open for the November killing season even if a decision had not been finalised, he said.
Blue Sky Meats general manager Ricky Larsen could not be reached for comment.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand economic service executive director Rob Davison said farmers could expect to see significantly lower prices for their sheep in the coming season.
Southland prime lamb prices were forecast to drop about $25 compared to 2010/11 figures, he said.
ANZ commercial and agri managing director Graham Turley said the red meat sector had a number of suppliers and it was not as coordinated or organised as the Fonterra dairy model.
The Red Meat Sector Strategy recognises a change was needed in marketing and livestock procurement, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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