Talley’s has sunk to a new low in the AFFCO lockout. Not content with trying to starve out 1,000 workers and force them to accept 20% pay cuts, Talley’s-owned AFFCO meatworks are planning to lockout hundreds more workers on the Easter statutory holidays – just to save on paying its workers holiday leave. It’s a despicable, and hopefully illegal, move.
The workers’ union, National Meat Workers’, is completely taken aback by this underhanded move. The legal situation is unclear because no employer seems to have sunken this low before. My reading of the Employment Relations Act is there are only two grounds for locking out workers (or striking) – as part of collective negotiations and on health and safety grounds.
Unless the courts want to open the door for companies everywhere to nullify statutory holidays by locking out their workers whenever one comes around, the law should be interpreted to prevent companies locking out workers specifically on statutory holidays.
On top of this, AFFCO is refusing to talk with the union until April 12 in a strategy to force workers on to individual contracts. That’s a violation of our right to freedom of association under the Bill of Rights Act and the ERA.
Talley’s has form for this kind of behaviour. You can let Talley’s know what you think of them by boycotting their product lines until they conclude a fair deal and let the workers back to work.
More importantly, you can support the AFFCO workers by donating – phone 0900 LOCKOUT and you’ll donate five dollars to the Meatworker’s lockout fund. Details for an online donation are: Kiwibank: account name: NZCTU DISPUTES FUND account number: 38 9007 0894028 08 Reference: AFFCO