The Council of Trade Unions is calling on the meat industry's representative body to help settle an industrial dispute at AFFCO's processing plants.
AFFCO locked out 1000 workers three weeks ago following a breakdown in negotiations over a new collective agreement.
Late last year ANZCO Foods locked out 100 meat workers at its CMP Rangitikei plant for two months, following a similar employment dispute.
CTU secretary Peter Conway says those lockouts represent a dangerous trend within the industry which he says is damaging the brand of New Zealand's meat exports.
He says the Meat Industry Association needs to talk to employers and tell them they're damaging the brand of the New Zealand meat export sector.
The association says it has no role in the employment relations of its member companies.
Chief executive Tim Ritchie says the association lacks both a mandate and the legal status to intervene in collective contact negotiations.
He says the responsibility for resolving the dispute rests entirely with AFFCO, the Meat Workers Union and the relevant government agencies.
The Meat Industry Association represents New Zealand meat processors, marketers and exporters.