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New Negotiations In Meat Industry Dispute

The Minister of Labour, Margaret Wilson, says that MAF, as employer of meat industry vets, is today seeking to end the dispute through further negotiation. Negotiations are planned for this afternoon, in Christchurch.

"The possibility of legal action by the government has been considered, but the reality is that the Employment Court has ruled that the strike action is within the law. The government focus continues to be on avoiding disruption to the meat industry at this critical time.

"In the long term a lasting agreement has to be reached in negotiation. This is why the new law places a strong emphasis on negotiation and provides for mediators to be available to support the process.

"I hope negotiators for MAF and NUPE will be able to make progress today on resolving the issues in dispute and in this way allow the strike to be stopped.

"The negotiations are still being handled by MAF. As Minister of Labour I am not involved directly, and neither is the Minister of Agriculture. But all government Ministers and agencies are doing everything they can to prevent disruption to our meat industry and economy.

"It is disappointing to see the opposition claim that the dispute is a consequence of the new employment law. This dispute began under the old employment law. Strike action was taken under the old employment law. There were at least 39 strikes and lockouts in the Meat Industry under the Employment Contracts Act. NUPE itself has acknowledged that it was easy to strike under the old law, and much harder to do so under the new law.

"The government is working closely with the meat industry and keeping other unions, farmers and others affected involved as we work towards a resolution."

Ends

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