A chilling move from New Zealand’s most notorious company?

A chilling move from New Zealand’s most notorious company?

Social media has become a means of workers talking to each other and organising around their issues and disputes, but now Talley’s is trying to shut this down in the name of “good faith”.

Everyone knows Talley’s record : they’ve been found guilty of multiple breaches of workers rights over decades, and more recently unlawful lockouts of workers and breaches of good faith in their North Island AFFCO plants.

Many AFFCO and Talley’s workers have taken to Facebook with secret sites where they can express their opinion. The Meat Workers Union has set up its Jobs that Count website, Facebook and Twitter account – initially to deal with issues in the meat industry as a whole, but increasingly to build support for MWU members who are being treated badly by AFFCO Talleys. It’s a legitimate means of reaching out, but not according to Talleys.


Talley’s has repeatedly banned union organiser access despite Employment Authority decisions, refuses union meetings in work-time, have closed union offices and won’t allow the delegates to meet. Union newsletters are banned, with one worker being disciplined for even reading one.

According to their Human Resources manager “delegates don’t exist”.

In August last year, the company filed breaches of good faith in the Court alleging that because the Meat Workers Union is a “cornerstone supporter” of the Daily Blog, posts from John Minto and Mike Treen on the Daily Blog were evidence of the union’s breach of good faith. This was part of their claim to end bargaining with the MWU under the National Party’s new laws.

This was adjourned sine die when a full bench of the Employment Court ruled on the company’s breaches of good faith last November and their unlawful lockouts of AFFCO workers when they attempted to implement company individual agreements last year. But these claims are still before the court and due to be heard in July 2016, along with the MWU’s application to fix the terms of the collective agreement, under a never before used provision of the Employment Relations Act.

So, just to up the anti : the latest, AFFCO Talleys have filed for an “interim compliance order” requiring the Meat Workers Union, its officials and agents to “comply with the duty of good faith by ceasing and desisting from publishing on any website, twitter account or other site viewable on the internet, items referring to the applicant or its parent company or officers that are unbalanced, misleading, untruthful, and/or derogatory until further order of the Authority.”

And in a further claim they seek to use “good faith” to control who represents the workers with a specific claim to exclude Darien Fenton MWU Organising Director from meetings and mediations.
So who’s affected? The “officials” of the union include every elected rank and file Shed President, Secretary and Vice President who work in meat works in addition to those owned or controlled by Talley’s. It could also arguably include every member of the Meat Workers Union because the union is its members.

Is the Daily Blog affected? Is anyone who publishes anything negative about Talley’s an agent? Yes probably, under the Talley view of the world.

Remember, this company already took the petty action of banning the wearing of harmless union t shirts to and from work, saying they are “intimidating” and like “gang insignia”

Now they want to shut all dissent down and dictate who they will deal with as representatives of the workers.

This is dangerous territory and needs to be resisted.


Darien is a former Labour Party MP and advocate for the MWU

Reposted from The Daily Blog