12 Apr 2012

Meat dispute heats up

6:33 am on 12 April 2012

The industrial dispute between AFFCO and the Meat Workers Union has geared up a notch, as they head into another round of mediation talks.

The two parties are meeting for mediation in Manukau in Auckland, on Thursday morning.

AFFCO locked out 1000 workers six weeks ago following a breakdown in negotiations over a new employment contract, and the union responded with strikes.

On Wednesday, the Serious Fraud Office confirmed it's looking into a complaint from the meat company about the union's financial records and decide whether or not to pursue the mater by mid-May.

AFFCO laid the complaint, saying the union's financial statements show only a fraction of the money AFFCO members pay to the union.

But the union says the SFO has already dismissed a similar complaint and it says it is disingenuous of AFFCO to suggest there's money missing from its national account when the company knows it audits its four branches separately from that account.

AFFCO's complaint follows last week's announcement by the Meat Workers Union, that it will challenge the legality of the lockout in the Employment Court later in April.

Alliance deal

Meanwhile, the Meat Workers Union says it has reached a deal with the country's second biggest meat processor, Invercargill-based Alliance Group, after just 12 hours of negotiations.

National secretary Dave Eastlake says the Alliance agreement expired the same day as the AFFCO one did.

He says the new agreement, which includes increases in wages and allowances as well as other benefits, was concluded in a relatively short period of time and was "painless".

"The only problem we seem to be having at this stage is AFFCO, who don't seem to want an agreement with us at all."