2 Mar 2012

Farmers wait for resolution in AFFCO industrial action

6:28 am on 2 March 2012

A farmer representative says the industrial action at AFFCO's meat processing plants is disappointing, and that farmers have no option but to wait patiently for a resolution.

About 1700 unionised meat workers at AFFCO's eight sites are on strike on Friday, in response to 750 of their colleagues being locked-out on Wednesday.

They are also picketing outside some of the plants, with a focus on the Horotiu site in Waikato, where AFFCO's head office is based.

The action stems from a breakdown in negotiations over a new collective agreement.

The 24-hour strike began at 5am on Friday and includes a week-long work ban on union members training replacements for those who are locked out.

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairperson Jeanette Maxwell says if the action affects production, farmer suppliers will have to be patient until the dispute is resolved.

She says it's a commercial working relationship between AFFCO and its workers and it's always disappointing when these sort of issues come up.

Ms Maxwell says hopefully they can negotiate their way through this and there will be fair and reasonable outcomes for both.

"Sheep and beef farmers, you know we're always working at the whimsy of the dollar, of shipping, of weather, all sorts of things so luckily enough patience is something farmers seem to have plenty of", says Ms Maxwell.

AFFCO says the lockout is indefinite but it has no plans to extend it to all union members, and the Meat Workers Union says it'll decide on Friday if it'll take further action.