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Kinleith talks break down

Kinleith talks break down

Talks between managers and striking workers from the Kinleith pulp and paper mill today broke down with the parties even further apart than ever.

EPMU Auckland regional secretary Mike Sweeney said that workers had had high hopes for talks that resumed today, but the company had moved to a more radical and anti-union position.

Some 270 workers from the Tokoroa mill have been on strike for two months over the company’s proposals for their new collective employment agreement. The company wants to use production workers to replace professional firefighters, scrap a fair, transparent promotion system and make people work longer hours for less pay. Their old collective agreement expired more than two years ago.

Last week, retiring CHH chairman Sir Wilson Whineray urged both parties to make compromises in order to settle the dispute.

Mr Sweeney said that the workers had taken heart from Sir Wilson’s comments, and had gone to the table today prepared to negotiate. They were stunned when the company tabled what it called a “new age” proposal.

“It should be called an anti-union proposal,” Mr Sweeney said. “They are seeking to get rid of all union rights on the site.”

No further talks are scheduled.

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