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DWU: Support For Open Country Cheese Workers Grows

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
DWU: Support For Open Country Cheese Workers Grows

Support from the Waikato public and the wider union movement is growing for 36 Waikato cheese factory workers facing a six week lockout from Talleys-owned Open Country Cheese, who has refused to negotiate with them for a collective agreement.

"Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly visited the workers today on the picket line and told them that the union movement was right behind them," National Secretary of the Dairy Workers Union James Ritchie said.

"In the last few days other workers, families and school children have been visiting the picket. The community at Waharoa and surrounding districts have been telling the workers they backed them."

On Friday, food sector affiliates of the Council of Trade Unions met in Wellington to update International Union of Food Workers Regional Secretary Ma Wei Pin about the dispute. The IUF committed to putting its global affiliates on alert about the employer's actions in this dispute, James Ritchie said.

"This local, union movement and international support is heartening to see." But James Ritchie warned that Open Country Cheese had already demonstrated it would act without principles in trying to bully its workers into dropping their claim for job security.

"Yesterday we discovered that sludge from the factory, normally collected by trucks and spread on farms had been poured directly into the Waitoa river. This company is showing a callous disregard for both environmental protections and the right of workers to negotiate collectively rather than on their own."

"This dispute is absolutely resolvable, if the company is serious about addressing its workers' concerns around job security in a collective agreement. But its actions to date don't look promising."

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