26 October 2014
This year’s 114th celebration of Labour Day highlights how much security of employment has gone backwards for meat workers in recent years, says Graham Cooke, National Secretary of the Meat Workers Union.
“Thousands of meat workers throughout New Zealand provide their labour for this critical export industry, yet their job security has never been on more shaky ground.”
“Long established seniority provisions that enabled loyal, reliable, dependable and skilled workers to return to work between seasons are being undermined by some companies.
“Other workers are working dangerously long shifts at the peak of the season, but they are then discarded to the dole queue if the employer decrees.
“We are hearing about many jobs are being filled by three month migrants, apparently here on working holidays, which gives rise to questions about health & safety and food safety.
“All this adds up to an industry where all the cards are stacked against the workers with a flow on effect to their families and communities.
“It subjects those companies that do treat workers fairly to unfair competition, and makes even more jobs vulnerable.
“While we celebrate Labour Day and the achievements of our forebears in fighting for the 8 hour day, it’s time to have a conversation about what Labour Day means for workers in the 21st century.
“Because right now, it doesn't mean a whole lot to Meat Workers” Graham Cooke said.