Meatworkers win

Written By: - Date published: 7:21 am, May 22nd, 2012 - 38 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

News in that Talley’s/AFFCO and the Meatworkers reached an agreement at 5am this morning. The workers will keep their wage and job security provisions and still be covered by a collective contract. These things are never a complete victory but Talley’s appear to have won little for a dispute that has cost them and their workers’ families millions. Next time, they’ll think twice before attacking their workers.

The strength of spirit of the thousand plus workers and their families have displayed to stand strong while one rich family tried to bully and extort them into handing over some of what little wealth they have is astounding. I know the tens of thousands of dollars donated by New Zealanders up and down the country, along with payments from their union brothers and sisters via the CTU, have been absolutely vital in keeping these families going. As has the support of iwi, who have not only provided practical support to the families but have flexed their economic muscle as well by threatening a boycott of Talley’s/AFFCO by Maori farmers and even mooted setting up a competing network of meatworks.

At the end of the day, a dispute like this comes down to who can take the pain longer, and who has most to lose. The workers had the most to lose because accepting the bosses’ demands would have been the end of the union and a ticket to lower wages and casualisation. With the help of iwi, the union movement, and ordinary New Zealanders, they have shown they could bear the pain longer than Talley’s/AFFCO could bear to lose millions in revenue.

And we owe our thanks to the meatworkers, as well as the wharfies at Ports of Auckland. There’s no doubt that these two vicious attacks on workers by their bosses were the opening salvos in a broader attack on workers’ rights, supported and abetted by National with further undermining of our work rights.

Both Talley’s/AFFCO and Ports of Auckland have come away with bloody noses and the reputations of their senior managers in tatters. That will be noted by bosses up and down this country. Had Talley’s/AFFCO and PoAL won, it would have been open season on workers’ rights and pay. Instead, the lesson is: don’t mess with unions and don’t mess with workers.

The bosses and their shills should take some time to absorb that lesson before they attack New Zealand’s working families again.

And the meatworkers should stand a little taller today as they return to work today. They have done themselves and all working New Zealanders proud.

Kia kaha.

38 comments on “Meatworkers win”

  1. tc 1

    Great news now watch shonkey and the hollowmen proxies makes moves on the law to weaken the unions and alter the outcome next time this happens. It’s a learning game to them whereas it’s the only game to the workers, be vigilant people.

    Well done to everyone involved, a fight that had to be won for the workers.

  2. Hateatea 2

    Excellent news to log on to but I think that I will continue to boycott Talleys. The damage done to those whānau and their communities will be felt for many, many more months and I am sure no compensation will be paid by Talleys to get people back on their feet

    • felix 2.1

      Me too.

    • muzza 2.2

      Because Talleys are made in NZ, I bought their frozen vege to support NZ made over those that are not…

      Anyone know which other frozen veges are made in NZ, who don’t treat their workers with utter disrespect?

      Pleasing to see this outcome, however this is not where it will rest!

    • Rodel 2.3

      Hateata Me too. Wouldn’t touch Talleys after what I’ve learnt from this site.

    • burt 2.4

      Boycotting Talleys could result in workers being laid off. A well organised effective mass boycott could possibly get most of them laid off in less than 6 months.

      I get the boycott when the workers are on strike or locked out – but the workers via their union have accepted the deal so solidarity, and all that, surely says you should now bite down on it.

      • felix 2.4.1

        The issues with Talleys go a lot deeper than one lockout burt.

        And what happened to your free market principles? If consumer choices really do hurt Talleys so much that they can’t stay in business, then they obviously shouldn’t be in business and someone else will fill the gap in the market to meet demand.

  3. Good stuff. But you can bet the Tallys, like rust, will not sleep.

    They may see National’s proposed Industrial Relations law changes as another way to achieve what they want. 

    Wrecking collective agreements in the name of “flexibility” is what they want to achieve.

    It is great that the Trade Union movement has won this particular battle but the war is not yet over … 

  4. Carol 4

    Great news about one battle won. Take time to celebrate, and then regroup – it’s only just begun.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    Next time, they’ll think twice before attacking their workers.

    No they won’t. What they’ll do is lobby this government for a law change that will put more power in their hands and probably get that law change and then they’ll attack again.

    • burt 5.1

      The we get a change of government and the legislation swings back the other way and non-union people say; “What they’ll do is lobby this government for a law change that will put more power in their hands and probably get that law change and then they’ll attack again.”.

      • Fat chance. Labour has never adequately undone the damage previous National governments do to employment law.

        • fatty

          Too true…the ERA 2000 that replaced the ECA 1991 did little more then entrench the loss of employment rights. I hate the concept of good faith bargaining…its a sham

  6. ad 6

    Such fantastic news. Shoutout to everyone who held the line.

  7. Carol 7

    Interesting interview with a Talley’s worker just on RNZ. She said she was a little nervous about going back to work, but was glad it was over. She’d been planning to head to Aussie if the dispute wasn’t settled, like many others in her area.

    Great – Greedy corporates and their government backers, pressuring workers to leave for Aussie where workers have stronger unions.

    • muzza 7.1

      So once workers are driven away from NZ in certain sectors…what happens once the tide goes out in OZ? Be interesting to see how strong unions remain in OZ once the sucking effect hits them properly!

      Western countries with labour laws, health and safety laws and the like, can’t compete now, so they won’t be able to compete in future either!

      Who will turn this around?

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        No one. All the political parties are capitalist and free market leaning. The markets and the margins for the few come first, communities and societies come a poor second.

        • muzza

          Indeed, and yet still people are desperately engaging into a system in the hope that it might change direction.

          I wonder when people will start to accept that the wholesale co-opting of global governments and the systems that are meant to support the people of those countries, is not that difficult to have achieved…and it happened while they continue to think, its all just “stuff” that happens!

          Some people still can’t get their heads around the simple truth that the banking system is the root cause of almost every problem going around!

          Control the money, control “everything”!

          • Tiger Mountain

            The corporates can run but they can’t hide forever. When the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) workers get substantially organised, and the US and Europe re-organised our capitalist friends will be stuffed, but can that happen before the planet is stuffed, is the question.

  8. Luk 8

    Finally some good comes out of the Iwi Leaders Group, thought they were a total bunch of government hacks, but this shows they have some links back to the flaxroots. Or am I being sucked in by the PR and they were a convenient way for Affco to lose without saving face.
    Maybe the cynic in me says Affco figured fight not worth it when govt is changing law soon to make it much easier for them

  9. Malcolm 9

    Hi Eddie,

    Can I point out that you have fallen into the same pattern as the bourgeois media by reporting on this dispute as all settled. The proposed agreement needs to be ratified by union members. They may or may not agree that they have quite won yet.

    [cheers but I’m well aware the agreement needs ratification, that’s why I said an agreement had been reached between the union and the bosses, not that the dispute is settled. The union members interviewed across media have all expressed support for it. Ratification seems extremely likely. It’s like the budget. When English presents it on Thursday, we’ll all say ‘the govt has presented its budget’ and analysis it as if it is what the actual budget will be for the next year. of course, the budget won’t pass until its third reading if a majority of the house backs it some weeks later and, in theory, National MPs or their support partners could cross the floor and vote it down. But it would be bizarre to not cover the budget until the third reading on that basis. Eddie]

    • Aren’t votes for the budget done by party, Eddie? If so National MPs cannot cross the floor.

      I would love to be wrong about that though! 🙂

    • Malcolm 9.2

      By all means cover it but I think it needs pointing out it is not settled until ratified. I couldn’t see any mention of this in your post. (Having just re-read it I still can’t.) The way your post is worded make it seem like it is all done and dusted. This can also be said about lots of other comments made by sympathetic commentators yesterday morning. I understand people are happy about a possible settlement and want to celebrate but it should be done a bit more cautiously. We don’t know what the membership feels about the proposed deal yet. No doubt they are very keen to get back to work but they may not like it at all …..

  10. Guest 10

    What the Ports of Auckland and Talleys didn’t realize is the level of support the workers would get from the Union and the public.

  11. The bosses and their shills should take some time to absorb that lesson before they attack New Zealand’s working families again.

    I think National’s planned labour law changes demonstrate that the lessons have already been learned and future union-busting activities will rely on the govt’s heavy weaponry for success.

    • tc 11.1

      Yup, more lessons learned so next time the NACT gov’t big guns can be used by the owners and management to their own end.

      • Psycho Milt 11.1.1

        That’s what I’m thinking. For the employers, the obvious lesson to draw from these two disputes is that they’re likely to fail expensively when trying to break a union under labour law that’s still largely as Labour left it, so it’s time to start bending the ears of their (and I mean “their”) representatives in govt about the need for that law to get friendlier to union-busting employers.

  12. Stephen D 12

    I remember being in the Meat Workers union back in the 1970s.
    Makes me proud to once have belonged.

  13. Kevin 13

    Excellent news for the workers and the families who have been affected by this lockout and a great result for the team who negotiated this return to work, special mention to Tainui for playing an integral role in getting the parties talking.

    • higherstandard 13.1

      “….special mention to Tainui (and others) for playing an integral role in getting the parties talking.”

      You’re on to it, without the intervention of the likes of Ken Mair, Tukoroirangi Morgan and Sonny Tau there wouldn’t have been any progress.

  14. Union Hard 14

    I would like to thank all the people on this site with their words of support and donations of money which helped us during the lockout ,we could not not have done it without your help

  15. BillODrees 15

    POL              0.     Union                 1
    Talleys          0.     Union                 1 
    Natz.            0.      Union                 1
    Self interest   0.     Collective Interest 1


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