Open Country shows contempt for the law

Written By: - Date published: 10:54 am, September 30th, 2009 - 7 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

dwuThe Talleys and National Party linked Open Country Cheese continues to show its contempt for the law as it attempts to break the Dairy Workers Union.

You’ll be aware that Open Country laid down a six week lockout notice to try and force workers to leave the union. So far it hasn’t worked and on Friday the lockout notice was struck down by the Employment Court, which ruled it unlawful. The judge reserved his decision on whether the strike-breaking labour used during the lockout was also unlawful.

Open Country has reacted by instead suspending the workers (in effect continuing the lockout) on the grounds that they are investigating “environmental sabotage” in relation to the spill of dairy sludge into a nearby river. That’s the spill that was caused by the poorly trained strike-breaking labour used during the lockout, and it’s not the first time Open Country has been caught wilfully damaging the enivronment.

The company has absurdly tried to blame union members, despite them being literally locked out of the premises at the time, and is using this as a pretext to effectively continue its unlawful lockout. It’s also being used as a public relations tool to try and smear the union, following the pattern we’ve seen throughout this dispute from the Talleys’ high-priced PR firm, Lindenberg & Partners of Remuera.

Make no mistake, the company’s goal here is to casualise the dairy industry and to do that they need to drive out the union. They’ll even pay their workers to be suspended while the company “investigates” its own environmental damage if it helps to break workers’ confidence and wear down their solidarity.

This is a born to rule elite that thinks it’s above the law and can treat its workers like peasants. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these people should not be allowed to do business in New Zealand.

7 comments on “Open Country shows contempt for the law”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    Eddie can the Standard produce a list of products that this company sells. We the public need to actively boycott their purchase. This kind of shit needs to be dealt to strongly and if their are other companies that the Dairy Workers Union has good dealings with we need to know so we can all actively support the good employers.

  2. toad 2

    Regardless of who caused the spill of dairy sludge, suspending workers en masse while investigating it is unlawful. For a worker to be lawfully suspended, and employer needs to have at least some evidence that indicates that individual worker may be culpable.

    Again, complete contempt for the law.

  3. BLiP 3

    I wonder if PR man Armin Lindenberg got his botty smacked by Laurie Margrain after an initial press release was subsequently pulled and edited. The NBR reports that OCC claimed on 4 September that the company had evidence that Fonterra Dairy Union representatives were involved with the Open Country workers over strike action.

    The final sentence in the original release said:

    NOTE: Open Country has email evidence of collusion between Fonterra Dairy Workers Union representatives supporting the planned strike action.

    This claim was removed in an updated press release because, apparently, release of the information had not been approved by OCC. It could just be, of course, that such information never existed but who would know?

  4. The Voice of Reason 4

    And the bullying continues:

    “Intimidation Continues, Delegate Sacked

    Today, Wed 30 Sept. we are waiting on the Employment Court to rule on the legality of the scabs engaged by the company. OCC has also sacked one of our two delegates, Dave Te Iringi, for an alleged incident on the picket. The evidence is very flimsy and the union will challenge the dismissal. A professional photographer and Private investigators have been hired by OCC to photograph (per telephoto lense) and run surveillance on its own employees for daring to join the union and picket.

    James RitchieNational Secretary NZDWU”

    From the DWU website a few minutes ago.

  5. The DWU now has a revised website,, still having content added, but it does have regular updates on the OCC lockout. Its international affiliate the geneva based IUF has also started an email campaign re OCC via manager Mark Fankhauser:

  6. BLiP 6

    Parliament is starting to set up its on spin cycle. Industrial action by staff there is apparently a safety issue but the bosses all have it under control:

    The Parliamentary Service will put in place contingency arrangements to ensure the parliamentary precincts remain safe and secure during planned industrial action by staff who are members of the PSA, its General Manager Geoff Thorn, said today.

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