Pay reductions at Blue Sky Meats, accepted by meat workers
this week, are a reflection of the state of the industry, the
Meat Workers Union says.
In July, the Southland-based meat company described the past
financial year as the "most disappointing" in its history, as
it plunged from a $6.5 million profit before tax the previous
year to a nearly $605,000 loss.
The previous financial year was one of the company's most
successful and the change reflected the challenges of the
meat industry, chairman Graham Cooney said at that time.
Yesterday, the Otago-Southland secretary of the New Zealand
Meat Workers Union, Gary Davis, said boning room workers had
voted in favour of cuts of between about 12% to 15%, which
equated to between about $30 and $40 a day, while slaughter
board workers voted for cuts of about 8% or about $28 a day.
Labourers would drop about $18 a day.
While there was a lot of opposition to the reductions -
"obviously no-one likes taking a cut" - it reflected the
state of the industry at the moment. Blue Sky Meats workers
were still better paid than other meat workers in
Otago-Southland, Mr Davis said.
The vote by workers on the slaughter board was a lot closer
than those in the boning room.
There had also been restructuring with both slaughter board
and boning room shifts.
He believed "more pain" was likely to be felt by other
players in the industry in the next few years.
There would be notices going out this week, inviting people
back to Blue Sky Meats for the new season, which looked
likely to start on November 12. That would be "a relief for
most people", he said.
Some workers had "left the place and gone and done other
things" and, once people started returning over the next
couple of weeks, then there would be "a fair idea" of how
many people were excess. He estimated close to 70 jobs had