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Government Welcomes End To Meat Dispute

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry veterinarians' strike is over, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

After a 12-hour negotiating session ending early this morning, an agreement was reached between MAF negotiators and National Union of Public Employees representatives.

That agreement was put to NUPE members today, and a ratification vote held. It sees veterinarians get a 4 per cent pay increase, with no change in conditions.

That vote has accepted the offer, and vets will return to work this weekend.

Mr Sutton called on everyone involved ? farmers, meat workers, and veterinarians ? to get the meat chains up and running again as quickly as possible.

"Indeed, four more plants were able to resume today, and two more will be able to resume tomorrow, even before this welcome agreement."

Mr Sutton said the meat industry and the New Zealand economy had suffered damage from the strike, but the speedy resolution and the fact that many vets kept working would ensure that was minimised. Meat companies should be able to fulfil export contracts.

Meat can only be exported when certified by MAF veterinarians.

Mr Sutton thanked MAF's negotiators for their hard work in coming up with an agreement satisfactory to all parties involved, and said he was pleased that NUPE members had carried out ratification of that agreement quickly.

A full independent review of pay and conditions of MAF meat sector staff will be carried out during the next year in an effort to ensure that such disputes did not reach the stage of direct action again, he said.

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