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Most Samoan workers signed individual contracts

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 14, 2011) – The New Zealand Food and Services Union is calling on more Samoan workers to support locked out workers at a New Zealand meat processing plant, CMP Rangitikei.

The lock out, now in its eighth week at the Marton plant, has affected over 100 workers who have refused to sign individual contracts with pay cuts of up to 20 percent.

The union’s Pacific Liaison Officer, Tuifaasisina Mea’ole Keil, says only one Samoan family is among the locked out workers, who are now struggling to get by.

Other Samoans are among the two thirds of workers who chose to return to work after signing individual contracts, but says many feared deportation if they hadn’t done so.

"It doesn’t bode well, not for now. But if they concede now, then what will, are they willing to concede again? Once the employer feels that this is how they can treat the workers unfairly, and demand used concessions from them at will, with an arrogant attitude, then where will it stop? It’s 20 percent today, and then what will happen next year, or the year after?"

Tuifaasisina Mea’ole Keil says any new workers from Samoa are likely to struggle to fit in, given the ongoing industrial action among locked out workers.

[PIR editor’s note: In spite of the downturn global economy which has left many jobless in New Zealand, the processing company sent recruiters overseas to Samoa to look for workers during the lock-out. While the company has said recruiters are in Samoa for seasonal vacancy hires which will not replace currently locked-out workers, some individuals involved at the plant are critical of the recruitment.]

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