Union vote timeframe

Union delegates will meet at the Mataura freezing works today to decide on a timeframe for members to vote on a proposed new employment contract.

The president of the Otago-Southland Meat Workers Union, Gary Davis, said workers felt they were being pushed to accept a new employment contract by plant management.

The plant's owner, Alliance Group, has said it will invest $13 million in the plant's beef-processing capability and another $14 million in other capital but only if the 800 workers agreed to new contracts which could see pay cuts of up to 40%.

Meat worker union officials say the beef plant is not large enough to handle the season's peak beef kill, while company management has told the union the plant has the highest lamb-processing costs within the Alliance group.

Mr Davis said workers thought last year was tough, with low sheep numbers reducing work to five days a week, with no overtime.

This year was worse, with most working four days a week and many of those days shortened by a further reduction in sheep numbers. Also, wet weather was slowing the finishing of lambs to target weights.



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