Hone Harawira, Maori Party
8 February 2006
The Maori Party supports the strike by two hundred members of the Meatworkers Union who picketed Taylor Preston in
Ngaraunga Gorge yesterday.
"It's a sad state of affairs when the Government stands aside while workers are forced to accept low wages and poor
conditions," said Hone Harawira, Maori Party spokesman for employment.
"Working on the chain is hard enough," said Mr Harawira. "It's noisy, slippery work where the best tools are the
dangerously sharp ones, so you've got to be on your game all the time. Then on top of that, it's shift work, and
seasonal as well so it's hard to get any quality whanau time. And for that, the workers get poor wages."
"You'd laugh if it wasn't so tragic, but the union at Taylor Preston Meatworks tell us that their members are the
lowest paid in New Zealand, so the truth is that this tragedy is hitting real workers and real families.
"They even told us that the workers have to provide their own teabags. How sad is that?"
"But the really sad thing is that the Taylor Preston story is just one of many we are hearing from all around the
country," said Mr Harawira. "In fact right here at home, Northland's electricity company, Top Energy has locked its
workers out over a pay dispute.
"So this Sunday, I will be in Auckland, attending a mass stopwork meeting of another group of workers, fast food
workers, to support their call for decent wages".
"From a Maori Party viewpoint, we are concerned that the average Maori weekly income is more than 25% less than that
for Pakeha, which should be a matter of great shame to a country that prides itself on equality".
"Labour's so-called "Working for Families" package looks a bit suspect given their encouragement for employers to pay a
measly $10.25 an hour. The Maori Party is concerned for everyone forced to exist on low wages, and we stand by our
position that the minimum wage should be immediately raised to $12.50 an hour".