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Meat Workers Strike Bloody Low Wages

Meat Workers Strike Bloody Low Wages

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Meat Workers Give Low Wages the Chop

Twenty-four striking meat workers will be holding a “bloody” picket outside of Riccarton Countdown, Church corner, Christchurch at 1pm today.

The workers, who are on the third day of a five day strike, are taking their white overalls and bloody picket signs to Countdown customers who would normally be consuming the end product that the workers process. They will be giving meat in the shape of “low wages” the chop.

Bill Watt, Canterbury branch President of the New Zealand Meat Workers Union, said that the first-time strikers voted unanimously to take action after Progressive made a final pay offer that was below inflation.

“Progressive is trying to cut as many corners as possible to win the supermarket war by asking our members to take a pay cut when they are already earning 70% of the industry standard,“ he said. “We decided to take our message directly to customers after the company hadn’t responded to our first few days of strike action. But we aren’t holding our breath: it took Progressive 100 days to begin negotiations and only then after we threatened a strike ballot.”

Mr Watt said that the union is seeking a 16 month contract with a 12% pay rise which would take workers up to $15.50 an hour. It would be a first step towards pay parity with other workers in the industry who earn an average of $20 an hour, he said.

National Secretary Laila Harre of the National Distribution Union, said that Countdown, Foodtown and Woolworths workers were supporting and working together with the striking workers in their ShelfRespect.org supermarket campaign.

The two Unions are asking customers and supporters to show support by signing a petition and sending an email to Progressive in support of the 5 day strike at http://www.shelfrespect.org/petition/


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