Rangiuru workers and families take to streets

By Genevieve Helliwell

A swarm of peaceful protesters marched through Te Puke on the weekend chanting slogans of support for the locked out workers from food processing giant Talley's Affco.

Tamara Kingham walked proudly down the main street, with a sign in one hand, belting out chants with about 100 other workers and supporters. She was at the march to support her father, who had been without work for about 11 weeks since he and other union members were locked out of the Rangiuru plant.

Without her dad's income, the 24-year-old said times were tough and her family of seven struggled to make ends meet.

"It's been pretty hard and [the lockout] has affected a lot of us and we're hoping to get back into work soon. Some people have had to ask for money and we've had to ask for money so we can get food in the house," she said.

"I'm doing this to support my dad and other families that are locked out and struggling as well."

Saturday's protest began at the corner of Jellicoe and Jocelyn Sts and protesters made their way down to Donovan Park over a period of about two hours. Along the walk, chants of "stand up, fight back" and "what kind of power - union power" echoed through the township.

Miss Kingham said it was pleasing to see so many workers and family members get out and support one another.

"It was a really good day. There were even little kids wearing our [supporter] tops and marching through town with us. The mood was pretty good and we had a lot of honks from everyone. We had one negative person but we didn't let that get us down."

The protest was followed by a family picnic at Donovan Park. NZ First MP Brendan Horan, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, Te Ururoa Flavell from the Maori Party and Labour's Andrew Little were at the march, along with Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly. Representatives from Talley's seven other North Island Affco meat workers also attended. Workers had held protest marches in Moerewa, Gisborne, Wairoa, Napier and Wanganui and a community rally in Horotiu.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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