Pay parity strike on cards for Tegel staff

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2012
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Tegal staff during their meeting.

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Tegel is forcing its Taranaki workers into a corner by refusing to negotiate over pay, union leaders say.

Tegel's 230 or so Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union members have been in wage talks with their bosses since May when their collective contract expired.

But those talks have turned sour with workers rejecting an offer from the company and the company allegedly refusing to make another.

Without an offer union members can either back down and go back to work or walk off the job as they have promised to do.

"It appears the company is trying to engineer a strike which it would appear is going to happen," said EPMU lead organiser Wayne Ruscoe yesterday.

"It's a very difficult situation to understand.

"It doesn't seem like normal business practice to sabotage your own production."

The union members are thought to make up nearly half of Tegel's 500 or so Taranaki employees.

They are pushing for pay parity with their Auckland and Christchurch counterparts who are believed to earn about eight per cent more.

"They have been ripping off these workers for a decade," Mr Ruscoe said.

Union members stopped work on Wednesday to hear the company's initial pay offer, which they rejected. Both parties then went to mediation, which continued yesterday without resolution.

Mr Ruscoe said they had offered to continue with negotiations throughout the night or meet with company representatives this morning to resolve the issue.

Both those offers had been refused.

Should workers walk out it is expected they will picket Tegel's Bell Block factory.

Tegel did not respond to Daily News questions yesterday.

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