August 9, 2004
McCains buying a fight over wages cut plan
Workers at the McCain’s plant in Feilding are outraged that they are being asked to take a huge pay-cut amid veiled threats that the plant will close.
The workforce of more than 100 is holding a stop-work meeting this afternoon to discuss the company’s claim that they take a 23 per cent pay cut.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that when McCains took over the plant in 2001 it had promised to honour existing working conditions – including wage rates.
“It was part of the deal when McCains bought the plant from Heinz Watties,” Mr Little said.
“If McCains hadn’t agreed to retain existing rates, Watties would have had to make the entire workforce redundant and the plant’s asking price would have been much higher.”
Mr Little said that McCains had also promised to invest heavily in modernising the plant – something which hadn’t been done.
“That’s the real issue,” he said. “Increasing workplace productivity is not about slashing wage rates but about combining workers’ skills with the best technology.”
Canadian-owned McCains is the world’s largest producer of potato products. In New Zealand its main competitors are Talleys and Mr Chips.
The collective employment agreement expired in July.