The weak attempt by the government to regulate around zero hours contracts has left many disappointed, and the problem of insecure hours still a wide open wound for many workers. Front of mind for meat workers during these winter months are the seasonal lay-offs, when they are expected to find other work while the plant shuts down.
So, what does job insecurity look like in the Meat Industry ?
- Meat Workers can be laid off seasonally anytime.
- The length of the season depends on many factors, but ultimately the boss decides.
- Meat Workers almost never qualify for holidays off on pay because they never work a full year.
- If they are hurt or injured, ACC is based on their earnings calculated over 12 months, not the months they actually work, leaving them worse off than other workers.
Many meat workers return to work year in and year out and some have 30+ years of service in the same shed. The industry relies heavily on their skills and experience.
But each time they are treated as “new” workers because of case law made years ago.
The only rights meat workers have are “seniority” provisions in union agreements that give the workers the right to be called back in order of their years of service, but these are now being weakened by more aggressive companies.
Add to this declining stock numbers and increasing uncertainty in the industry, demands for longer hours and lower pay and Meat Workers have many reasons to be calling for Jobs that Count.