8 Oct 2015

Plan to make dairy a better employer

2:39 pm on 8 October 2015

A new plan aimed at lifting employment standards in the dairy industry has been launched in Christchurch this morning.

Farmer moving cattle south of Tolaga Bay.

Farmer moving cattle south of Tolaga Bay. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Workplace Action Plan is a joint initiative between Dairy NZ and Federated Farmers and was launched by the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy at Lincoln University demonstration farm.

He said the plan had many new initiatives and specific areas on which dairy farm employers should focus.

He said work-life balance, fair pay, health and safety, team culture and personal development were all main pillars of the document and making sure there was 'direct and proper engagement' between employee and employer.

He said it was about making sure: "The dairy industry lifts its socks up to ensure that it's doing everything possible to prove to New Zealanders that they have the social license to operate."

He said the dairy industry had acknowledged it had under-performed in the past.

"And a lot of it, to be fair to the dairy industry, has been about paper work. I think in the past they've been a little bit slack, there's now new technology available with IT and new software systems to make it easier for employers to understand what they need to do."

Mark Paine from DairyNZ said the industry wanted to see 90 percent of dairy farm businesses with quality work environments by 2020. He said the plan had been built by farmers for farmers.

"There's extensive consultation around this. It's genuinely a ground up sort of development with farmers and probably the area that had the most discussion was around the balanced and productive work time, so what is it that constitutes a highly productive working week? And how do you do that with all the ups and downs through the seasonal cycles with calving and mating and so on?"

The plan is available online here.