Progress in Tegel dispute over pay

Union spokesman Wayne Ruscoe
Union spokesman Wayne Ruscoe

A strike at Tegel's Bell Block factory was avoided yesterday as pay negotiations progressed well, union spokesman Wayne Ruscoe says.

This week Tegel's workers in the Taranaki Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) threatened to strike if a resolution to a pay dispute could not be found.

It is understood the plant's 230 unionised workers asked for a 5 per cent wage increase to match what Tegel paid workers at other New Zealand Tegel factories.

EPMU lead organiser Wayne Ruscoe said all Tegel's Bell Block union workers were back on the job yesterday and negotiations between Tegel and union representatives were going well.

"We're optimistic," Ruscoe said.

"We're definitely making progress."

Both parties were meeting to continue negotiations on Monday morning for four to five hours when a resolution would be achieved, he said.

"All things are in good shape at the moment.

"We're all pretty relieved about it."

The mood at the negotiations was positive with both parties reaching "a bit of a truce".

The pay dispute had been a six-month-long saga, he said.

"I think both parties can see the light at the end of the tunnel now."

Both parties wanted to avoid disruptions, he said.

Changing a collective agreement was a long and complicated process, he said.

"There's a lot of detail to go through."

It was looking as though Tegel would now pay Taranaki union workers the same as others throughout New Zealand Tegel plants, he said.

"The company seems willing to talk about that."

Taranaki Daily News