by Nick Scullin
On 3 October 2011, 300 members of the Meat Workers Union were issued a lock-out notice by their employer ANZCO CMP Rangitikei. CMP is a lamb-processing plant near Marton that employs around 350 staff. Since issuing the lock-out notice the company has coerced many of the members to leave the union and sign individual agreements accepting massive pay cuts for fear of being locked out. 111 union members have held strong though and have been locked out since 19 October 2011.
The workers have been locked out because the company is attempting to force them to agree to a new collective agreement that would see them accepting pay cuts of over 20 percent. The workers and union had previously offered to accept a 10 percent pay cut but this was not enough for the company that boasts an annual turnover exceeding $1.3 billion New Zealand dollars. Meanwhile, the fact that the union was willing to offer a 10 percent pay cut shows the pitiful state of the union movement in New Zealand and the dangers of the ‘partnership’ model so popular with union leaders today.
Along with massive pay cuts the company is also seeking to impose a range of objectionable provisions on the workers including a trial period, a requirement to keep working beyond the end of a shift without pay to finish tasks and instant dismissal for evidence of gang affiliation.
The company is attempting to starve these workers into accepting massive pay cuts, but you can do something about it. Redline urges its readers to support the workers financially by calling 0900 LOCKOUT to donate. Also, information can be found on the CTU’s website at http://union.org.nz/anzcolockout regarding pickets of the company and companies it supplies like McDonalds.
When workers anywhere lose battles such as this it weakens the working class as a whole. Solidarity amongst workers is the only way to stop employers from devastating workers and our families whenever they see fit. Ultimately it is the system itself, capitalism, that must be overthrown so that workers can gain control of our workplaces and lives and not be subject to the whims of the market and the bosses.
Don’t forget to check out these excellent video clips of a protest that Redline contributors Jill Brasell and Don Franks performed at, here.