NZ Meat Workers Union media release 31 January 2019
The Meat Workers Union is welcoming the release of the Fair Pay Agreement report and is urging the government to
progress its recommendations quickly.
“Like many other industries, the Meat Industry faces serious challenges, including a shortage of workers and the future
of work,” says Graham Cooke, National Secretary of the NZMWU.
“We are bombarded with requests from the industry to bring in more overseas labour, which shows there is a structural
problem in the industry. Instead of considering the reasons why, the industry, like many others, expect government
intervention to bring in migrant workers for jobs that used to be the heart and soul of our rural communities.
“Fair Pay Agreements give an opportunity for working people, their unions and meat companies to find solutions together
about the challenges they face, including the shortage of labour. Enterprise or company-wide bargaining only takes us so
far. In the Meat Industry, which is highly competitive, it only takes one or two unscrupulous operators to pull down
wages and conditions across the board.
“What we are seeing is that wages are not keeping up. There’s a crisis of exploitation, both of migrant and resident
working people and an increasing burden on workers to work unpaid work in their own time.
“Why wouldn’t the meat industry want agreed standards that protects good employers who don’t believe in cutting wages to
the bone to compete? Why wouldn’t they want to be discussing the longer-term challenges of this important industry, such
as the rise of plant-based protein meat and the future of work with the workers who actually do the work and understand
the day to day reality on the chain?
“Our members live these experiences. It’s their jobs, their whanau and their community affected.
"We can follow old models from old and failed models from employers’ playbook, or we can get together and do something
different and leading for NZ” says Mr Cooke.