Talley AFFCO workers on the frontline (again)
By Darien Fenton, Director of Organising, NZ Meat Workers Union
Talley's workers and their families during the 2012 lockout
It’s not really a big surprise, but disappointing all the same that it’s come to crunch time with Talleys AFFCO .
After 18 months of things going nowhere, the MWU attended Court ordered mediation this month in an effort to settle the collective agreement. The MWU team tried hard to negotiate on the issues the company had told us were important competitive issues for them, including a 480 minute day.
On the third day of mediation, the Company shifted ground again, saying that they wouldn’t be settling an agreement unless the union agreed to ditch all protections around seniority. This would leave the Company with the right to pick and choose who they lay off at the end of the season and re-employ after the off-season.
The Company broke down the mediation, saying there was no point unless our union agreed to give away what little job security their workers have.
Meanwhile, workers at Rangiuru, Imlay have returned to work after the season on imposed Company individual agreements. They had no choice if they wanted to work. Manawatu will be next.
“Seniority” is one of the only systems of job security in the Meat industry. It has been hard-won by meat workers over many years. It’s been good for the industry in being able to keep skilled workers returning to work, and good for workers in recognising their skill and commitment while giving them some certainty.
But now Talleys AFFCO thinks that’s too much to ask as well.
The MWU has substantive action in the Employment Court on Talley’s actions, but this wont be heard until October. There are other proceedings in the Employment Authority, including allegations of breaches of good faith against the MWU . But none of that is going to settle a collective agreement for Talley AFFCO workers.
And yesterday, Talleys filed an application to conclude the bargaining under the National Governments new employment law changes. We knew they would be first, but there’s not much comfort for workers.
The MWU campaign for Jobs that Count is about secure jobs in our heartland rural communities, where families, communities and local businesses depend on the local freezing works.
The alternative is an industry where casualisation, temporary, labour hire and exploited migrants become the norm. As we’ve seen overseas, it puts at risk not only the pay and conditions of local workers, the lifeblood of local community and NZ’s reputation for quality meat and food security.
So in the next week you will hear about the action Talley AFFCO workers will be taking. They are currently meeting and voting on their next steps which may include action.
This is serious for all workers and we know we can rely on your support.
We will be in touch.
Director of Organising
NZ Meat Workers Union
Mob +64 - 21 684-093
Email : email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org