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Unions pledge to fight destruction of jobs in food industry

MEDIA RELEASE : Tuesday Aug 21, 2012

Australian and New Zealand Food Unions pledge to fight the destruction of jobs in both countries

Food unions affiliated to the International Union of Food Workers (IUF) from both sides of the Tasman have pledged greater cooperation in the fight to defend permanent decent jobs in the food processing sector.

Unions are to develop an early alert mechanism to inform each other of plans by multinational companies to relocate from State to State or country to country in their attempts to reduce wages and outsource jobs.

There should be no repetition of the Heinz relocation in 2011 when 350 permanent jobs were destroyed in Victoria and were replaced by 60 -70 casual workers in NZ being paid the minimum wage.

“Multinational companies using their power to destroy decent, regular jobs and replace them with insecure jobs on minimum wage will be opposed “ says Wei-Pin Ma, IUF Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary.

Both countries produce quality food and have strong food safety and biosecurity regulations which must be maintained to ensure strong food processing industries.

Unions will fight any attempts to de-regulate these important protections and will also champion stronger employment regulation that gives protection to casual workers and promotes permanent employment .

The wealth and wellbeing of both countries is damaged by the drift of workers from NZ to Australia for better wages and the drift of companies in the other direction for lower labour costs.

Food processing industries are under further threat by the secret negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement for Pacific Rim countries. A leaked draft text reveals a plan for greater rights of investors at the expense of the wage and employment security of workers by granting the ability for multinational companies to sue Governments in foreign tribunals if domestic laws threaten their current or future profits.

Australian and NZ food unions are calling on the Australian and New Zealand Governments to disclose the content of these trade and investment negotiations which will not stand up to public scrutiny in their current form and to have any trade and investment treaty proposals subject to an open parliamentary process.

Australian and NZ food unions, who met in Sydney last week, have agreed to regularly share information and to meet twice yearly to further their joint work.

Australian unions present at the meeting were the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (AMIEU) and the National Union of Workers (NUW)

New Zealand Unions present at the meeting were the Finance Retail Stores and Transport Union (FIRST), the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU), the NZ Dairy Workers Union (NZDWU) and the NZ Meat Workers Union (NZMWU).


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