On the twelfth day of Christmas Tallys gave two of its workers the sack.
Here is the press release from the Meat Workers Union setting out what happened.
Coming on top of a year of turbulence in AFFCO Talleys meat plants, two union delegates have been sacked right on Xmas because they went into work early to talk to union members, says the NZ Meat Workers Union.
One of the sacked workers is Bertie Ratu, the Shed Secretary of the Rangiuru plant, who earlier this year was threatened with dismissal by the company because she went to her local MP to raise concerns.
“The delegates were dismissed because they went to work to calm union members upset about unfair treatment and tempers were getting short,” says Darien Fenton, NZ Meat Workers Union.
“This is typical Talley behaviour. They are a company at war with its workforce.
“Since the Employment Court decision in November that AFFCO Talley workers had been unlawfully locked out and the company had breached good faith, Talley’s has embarked on a petty vendetta to punish any workers who are union members.
“Sacking workers for spurious reasons three days before Xmas highlights the difference between one of New Zealand’s wealthiest families and their workforce.
“While Sir Peter Talley and his sons sit in their multi-million dollar mansion eating Christmas pudding, these delegates and hundreds of their other workers who are still locked out will be having a miserable Christmas.
“This won’t go unnoticed or unchallenged. While the good folk of New Zealand help these workers through this difficult time, the union movement, nationally and internationally will be ensuring this company is brought to account, ” says Darien Fenton.
The background needs to be drawn out a little and I hope that you are as disgusted as I am at how AFFCO has treated its workers just because they are active union members. Clearly AFFCO wishes to deunionise its workplace.
Bertie Ratu came to notice after earlier this year she posted a comment on her local MP’s Facebook page. Essentially the comment asked her local MP Te Uruora Flavell to sign a petition for a new collective agreement. The previous agreement had expired fifteen months before and they were frustrated at continuing delays in renewing the agreement.
For her efforts she received a letter from AFFCO claiming that her comment may lead to dismissal or non reengagement. In AFFCO land talking to your MP and exercising your democratic rights is clearly a no no.
The failure to conclude negotiations over a collective agreement led to the Meat Workers Union taking action in the Employment Court. In November this year the Court handed down a sting rebuke of AFFCO’s behaviour during the negotiations. From the Meat Worker’s website:
A unanimous decision of a full bench of the Employment Court declared that :
- AFFCO Talley’s actions in forcing workers back to work on individual agreements was an unlawful lockout : this applies to all sheds, including those who have gone back under oppressive individual agreements and others, like Wairoa workers, who have refused to sign and have been without work for weeks.
- The Court also ruled that the company had breached section 32 of the Employment Relations Act in trying to engage in direct individual bargaining with workers while collective bargaining is still in place.
You would think that after such a comprehensive finding AFFCO would settle down and start treating its workers more fairly. But this did not occur.
First the workers were banned from wearing union t-shirts to work. These t-shirts are a pleasant green colour and say in bold lettering “Jobs that Count – MWU”. Management described them as being “intimidating” and “like gang insignia”. AFFCO management must be intimidated by the most benign of objects and I would recommend therapeutic intervention.
Then just before christmas comes the retaliatory action against MWU Delegates that I previously described.
The Tally brothers hatred of the trade union movement is well known. It is rumoured that they are in line for a knighthood. No doubt for services to the rich and wealthy in the never ending effort to destroy the trade union movement and makes serfs to the rest of us.
So merry christmas to the AFFCO workers. If someone can direct me to details of a strike fund I am happy to put the details up.