26 Oct 2009

Industrial dispute at dairy factory resolved

7:26 pm on 26 October 2009

An industrial dispute between Waikato-based company Open Country Dairy and workers at its Waharoa cheese factory is over.

The union and management of the Waikato-based company had locked horns over a collective agreement for workers at the factory in the Matamata-Piako district.

It led to strike notices, a six-week lockout of staff and claims of environmental sabotage at the factory.

Only six out of 34 workers involved in the dispute will return to work under a collective agreement.

Dairy Workers Union national secretary James Ritchie said some workers decided not to return to the factory, while other positions have gone due to the company restructuring the shift-based system that staff are employed under.

However, Mr Ritchie believes the outcome of the dispute is a win for workers.

Radio New Zealand reports Open Country Dairy management would not be interviewed on Monday.

However, in a statement, chief executive Mark Fankhauser said the company has come to confidential settlement with workers.

Mr Fankhauser said it will continue its investigations into claims of environmental sabotage which began during the dispute.

The union said it will also continue with its claim that the company's use of replacement workers during the negotiations was illegal.