A major British supermarket chain has added its weight to a contract negotiations dispute at a North Island meatworks.
At least 80 workers from the Anzco-owned CMP Rangitikei plant in Marton have been locked out since October over stalled negotiations.
Britain’s Unite Union joined forces with the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) and pledged to picket supermarket chain Waitrose, which buys meat from the plant, if settlement was not reached.
Now Waitrose has weighed in on the situation after the head of the chain was visited by one of the meat workers, CTU president Helen Kelly said.
Kelly said Waitrose, which is a signatory on the charter of ethical trading, has asked Anzco to return to the bargaining table.
“One of the workers, a mother of eight met with them in London,” Kelly said. “Waitrose have written a letter to Anzco expressing strong concerns.”
Anzco was yet to respond, she added.
She said the lock-out was bad publicity for the entire New Zealand meat industry.
“There’s one bad apple here being totally unreasonable and putting risk to our lamb trade.”
Anzco said its lockout was legal and that Waitrose was an “innocent party”.
CMP Rangitikei general manager Darryl McKenzie said the weekly pay cuts ranged between one and 15 per cent and were necessary because of declining lamb livestock numbers.
Kelly said workers were being forced to take a pay cut and work in terrible conditions.
From Auckland Now