New Zealand Meat Workers need international support

ANZCO Foods locked out 100 workers at their Marton plant on October 19 for not accepting pay cuts of up to 20 per cent, shift changes and reductions in allowances.

Locked out CMP Rangitikei meat workers marched on Palmerston North's McDonald's outlet, highlighting their ongoing contract dispute with the Marton meat processing plant.

ANZCO is a major supplier of meat patties to McDonalds. Helen Kelly, NZCTU president, will be announcing a nationwide fundraising day outside McDonald's on December 3.

"We're publicising this to McDonald's customers and pointing out that along with the nice tasting beef burger is a bad aftertaste of poverty," she said.

Children on the picket held signs saying “ANZCO Unhappy Meal”, “ANZCO McLockout” and “McDs can help get my dad back to work.”

A locked out single mother of eight has flown to London to ask for help from Britain and Ireland’s largest union. In London, Britain's largest union Unite is now planning actions against Waitrose, the sixth biggest supermarket in the UK which is directly supplied by the Rangitikei plant.

Solidarity support is being shown by union members of the Japanese unions working in ITOHAM Foods and Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd - two companies that part own ANZCO.

These workers have expressed concern that the companies they work for may be involved in the attempt by ANZCO to reduce workers wages at CMP Rangitikei by 20% and that workers at the plant have been locked out. They will be raising the matter with their employers and seeking an explanation of whether or not the companies support the moves by ANZCO.

International solidarity is at the core of union movement activity and the decision by the unions in Japan to support workers half way around the world when a dispute like this arises is an example of that solidarity in action.

“Japan has faced some very tough times itself recently and it is times like these that all workers know that their fate lies in each other’s hands. The locked out workers at CMP Rangitikei will be very pleased to hear that the unions of ITHOHAM foods and NIPPON SUISAN and the Federation of All Japan Foods and Tobacco Workers' Unions (JFU) affiliated with JTUC-RENGO are providing this support," said Helen Kelly.

Meat workers march in protest