by Lindsay Shelton
There was old-style picketing outside McDonalds in the Manners Mall at lunchtime today.
There was even a band. At first, shoppers might have wondered if this was the Salvation Army playing Christmas carols. But no. These were union songs, with the demonstrators singing along.
The message was clear. The demonstration was supporting meatworkers who’ve been locked out of their jobs at the ANZCO plant near Marton for five weeks.
It’s a dispute over pay. A hundred union members have been locked out since October 19 when they refused to accept pay cuts and shift changes.
They had plenty of support in Wellington today.
The fair pay message was aimed at McDonalds because the company which owns the Marton factory is one of the main suppliers of meat patties to McDonalds restaurants. The company chairman is Sir Graeme Harrison, whose knighthood was awarded this year for his services to agribusiness.
Plenty of motorists – and bus drivers – accepted the invitation to toot in support of the demonstration.
The demonstrators were encouraged to join in a “fair pay” song.
And the band played on, as passers-by took leaflets telling them to call McDonalds and tell them how they feel about the Marton meatworkers being locked out of their jobs because they won’t accept a pay cut. “For seasonal workers with families and without a stable income, this lockout is devastating,” explained a union pamphlet. “It’s behaviour that doesn’t sit well with McDonald’s reputation for community standards.”
The message was being delivered at similar demonstrations throughout New Zealand today.