Nat-linked company tries to bully workers

Written By: - Date published: 5:39 pm, September 22nd, 2009 - 15 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags: , ,

The Open Country Cheese dispute is getting nastier by the day. The workers began their eight-day strike last week. The Talley’s and National Party-linked company responded by bringing in strike-busters (farmers, apparently) to take the workers’ place, which is illegal.

On Saturday, one of these untrained strike-breakers allowed polluted sludge from the factory to flow into the Waikato river, creating a major environmental problem. Open Country, ridiculously, is blaming this on the striking workers, who can’t even get on the site. Police are investigating.

Yesterday, the Dairy Workers Union announced they had won an urgent hearing for this Friday on the legality of Open Country using these strike-breakers. The workers called off their strike until after the hearing, saying that if the factory was going to be operated regardless, they may as well be the ones doing the work.

The workers wanted to go back to work. The company responded by locking the workers out this morning.

Open Country might also be breaching the law with this lock-out. Under the law, 14 days’ notice of strike or lock out must be given in essential industries (which includes dairy, thanks to Muldoon). The workers gave 14 days’ notice of their strike. The company gave 14 days notice of their six-week lock-out starting on the 24th but there was no notice of this lock-out starting today.

Remember, this dispute is not about pay, it’s just about working conditions and hours. Yet the rabidly anti-union company seems to be willing to go to any lengths to try to break the workers. In typical Talley’s style, the company is willing to bend and break the law to get its way.

Several National Party MPs (possibly still including John Key) have interests in the Dairy Investment Fund, which part owns Open Country, and Kaimai Cheese, which is tied to the company and operates on the same site. It is time for them to rein in the company. It is unacceptable a company to operate in this bulling manner and as if the law doesn’t apply to them, all the more so when MPs have a pecuniary interest in it.

15 comments on “Nat-linked company tries to bully workers”

  1. BLiP 1

    The microcosm reflecting the macrocosm – the ruling elite crunch the workers, bring in foreigners to do the work on the cheap, break the law, and all the while the environment gets munted while the media goes ambulance chasing.

    Thanks National Ltd, I’m lovin’ it.

  2. Victor 2

    What would the significance if John Key was a shareholder via Dairy Investment Fund? Would that matter?

  3. Ag 3

    You know what? I expect that there will be differences between workers and owners, and that sometimes workers can be at fault, but I can have no respect for any country that allows people like the Talleys to own a business. If anything, having people like that running businesses is not good for capitalism, and screws it up for the rest of NZ’s business community, who, for the most part, treat their workers reasonably fairly and with a modicum of respect.

    If anything, the union movement should be trying to drive these creeps out of business.

  4. Cactus Kate 4

    “Nat-linked company tries to bully workers”

    That’s about as sensationalist a headline as “Labour Party backs Unions”.

    Oh Dohhh

    • The Voice of Reason 4.1

      Dohhh, yerself, Kate.

      “Labour party backs Unions” is a general statement, with no specific reference to any contemporary event, but the link between some Tories and OCC in the headline is a reference to a specific and narrow relationship of ownership and obvious influence in a dispute that is happening right now

      I’m guessing that the Nats in question are ‘comfortable’ with Talley’s bullshit and bullying. How about you?

      • Tigger 4.1.1

        Of course, backing someone is a positive thing to do. It implies support without undue influence. Bullying someone is inherently negative, immoral and wrong. So yeah Kate, you’re on the money there.

  5. SHG 5

    “National Party MPs (possibly still including John Key) have interests in the Dairy Investment Fund, which part owns Open Country, and Kaimai Cheese, which is tied to the company and operates on the same site”

    Holy shit, John Key practically padlocked the gates himself!

  6. Kiwi_busa 6

    It is ironic that “workers” can damage property (smashed windscreens and the like) and think that their behaviour is acceptable but as soon as a company takes action they all go crying off like kids who don’t get their own way.

    I say stand strong Open Country Cheese!!!

    • Noko 6.1

      Even if the workers actions aren’t justified, that doesn’t make the companies actions justified either, and it certainly doesn’t make them anything to cheer about, especially when they’re literally stopping people from working, polluting the environment and breaking laws.

      And you say the workers are acting like kids that don’t get their way.

    • Ianmac 6.2

      Smasked windscreens Kiwi? The vehicle went into the factory and came out with windscreen broken. The effluent controls are inside a heavily guarded area, yet management blames the strikers who have no access. Do these two items seem to be examples of ruthless tactics to you or just coincidences?

    • Daveo 6.3

      I bloody well hope they did throw rocks at the scab trucks. The company has illegally locked these workers out and is illegally shuttling scab labour in to do their work. Of course these workers are angry, they have every right to be. What the hell does the company expect?

  7. SHG 7

    “National Party MPs (possibly still including John Key) have interests in the Dairy Investment Fund, which part owns Open Country, and Kaimai Cheese, which is tied to the company and operates on the same site”

    Holy shit, John Key practically padlocked the gates himself!

  8. Jenny 8

    Monday, 21 Sept. EPMU members and supporters picketed Telecom’s Head Office in protest of the lockout of 900 engineers till they agree to halve their incomes and become indentured contractors.

    As an act of cross union solidarity locked out EPMU members, some who have been out of work for weeks, plan to drive down to Waharoa to give their support to these Dairy union workers.

    • The Voice of Reason 8.1

      Excellent, Jenny. It’s really good to see that solidarity developing.

      There are a lot of similarities between the two disputes. At heart, both have ruthless employers trying to strip away rights from the workforce they employ. Pretty much the same fight we’ve been engaged in since unions began, I guess. There are a few union friendly folk round my way organising a minvan trip to the Waharoa site as well and the fundraising for the Telecom workers is still going strong.

      It’s really great to see workers fighting back. After all, why should we pay for their crisis?

  9. scotty 9

    Why eat crap food from a company run,by that pig ignorant family.
    I havent bought Talleys food,for ten years ,in refusal to support bloated scum.

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