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Industry needs to move beyond quick labour shortage fixes

Sent on behalf of the NZ Meat Workers Union

Meat industry needs to move beyond the quick fixes for labour shortages

NZ Meat Workers Union media release - 9 September 2019

The NZ Meat Workers Union (NZMWU) is calling time on the increasing number of applications for overseas workers – known as an Approval In Principle - from the meat industry.

The latest application has come from AFFCO Talley who are seeking to bring in migrant workers to their plants in Rangiuru and Wairoa.

Graham Cooke, National Secretary, NZMWU says the applications aren’t justified. “After consultation with meat workers members and the community in Wairoa, we opposed the AFFCO/Talley’s applications to bring in migrant workers.”

“It’s absurd to try to import workers into a community where there are 600 job seekers. Especially following past practices of AFFCO including lockouts of vulnerable workers, and the lack of any training programme to get new local workers employed.

“Given the high level of under-employed or unemployed in the Wairoa district, and the limited ability of a small and relatively poor community like Wairoa to absorb and support new migrants we think AFFCO is taking the mickey”.

“Late last year, we called on the meat industry to collaborate with the NZMWU on the future of the industry, including finding ways of making the industry more attractive to local workers. The result from the industry has been silence except for an ever increasing demand for more migrant labour”.

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“Throughout NZ there are 22 million lambs/sheep, 2.5 million cattle to be processed over a 12 month season which peaks in February/March. There is already an overcapacity of killing chains within NZ and in our view, the industry requires much more innovative solutions than looking for a cheap supply of labour from overseas.”

“It is time the industry worked with the union to prepare for a future of work in the meat industry that has an eye on supporting work for locals and increasing benefits for local communities”.


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