Employers ‘Bully Tactics’

The new war — against New Zealand workers

On Anzac Day we’ve received the second column from Helen Kelly, president of the Council of Trade Unions.

It’s a sombre message, and important, about the effects of the Talley/AFFCO dispute on workers in small towns.

1300 Kiwi workers locked out

By Helen Kelly, CTU President

Over 1300 of Talley’s AFFCO workers in small town New Zealand — in places like Moerewa, Horotiu, Rangiuru, Wairoa, Whanganui and Feilding — are in their seventh week of being locked out. In their seventh week without work and without pay, they are really starting to feel the financial pressure.

AFFCO is locking out some workers while keeping others working: This means that in some communities, neighbours and even families are being pitted against one another.  This week marks the second time Talley’s have locked out AFFCO workers on a public holiday, ANZAC day, after locking out workers over Easter because they went on strike earlier in the year in solidarity with family members and workmates who were locked out. These are bully tactics at best, and are a real attempt to divide and rule these communities and families.

And what is this all for? These workers are not asking for a huge pay rise, they’re not after better conditions – they are simply seeking to keep their conditions as they are at the moment, to keep a decent job with some income security.

The way it works in the meat industry is something like this – the team numbers and tally kill rates are linked with pay, if the team meets its daily tally kill rate then they get paid accordingly. AFFCO wants to be able to, at anytime, change either or both the number of people in each team, and change the tally kill rate. The changes to the collective that AFFCO is after would give them the ability to reduce the workers pay, by changing the rules at any time.  They won’t agree to a mechanism to protect minimum tally earnings.

It is hard to reconcile the fact that this is happening in our primary industry where meat prices are at all time high’s on the international markets. It is also hard to reconcile that it is one family, who’s business, the Talley’s Group, made $20 million profit last year alone, who is doing this to so many.

Talley’s seeking ‘unilateral control’

The union movement is behind these workers – the kind unilateral control Talley’s is seeking through their proposed agreement and the tactics they are using to try and force the workers into submitting to the deal do not bode well, and is not something we are going to sit back and let happen.

We are fundraising – there is a lot of support out there, but even still, the locked out workers have had to cash in KiwiSaver accounts, freeze mortgages and get credit card holidays. We need support, the workers need support, we all need to stand up for decent jobs in New Zealand.

Send your donations!

Donations for locked out AFFCO workers can be sent to CTU Disputes Fund at Kiwibank, Wellington (Branch), NZCTU DISPUTES FUND (Account holder), 38 9007 0894028 08 (Account).

( Editor’s note: For more information about unions — ‘We’re about Fairness’ —  www.facebook.com/fairness.at.work  www.union.org.nz