Talleys versus Free Speech

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, July 29th, 2016 - 33 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, boycott, business, capitalism, class war, Economy, health and safety, Unions, wages, workers' rights, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , ,

NZ’s worst employer, Talleys, have gone to the Employment Court to try and take away the NZ Meat Workers Union right of free speech. By extension, that means taking away your right to free speech.

If these bullies win, no NZ worker (or their representatives) will have the ability to criticise their employer on social media. It’s already an area that’s difficult for workers; have a moan on facebook about a shitty day at work and you can already expect to be dobbed in to HR.

Meat Workers Union organiser Darien Fenton said if they win it would have a chilling effect, gagging the union from campaigning around workers rights.

“Workers and delegates have been locked out and sacked, bargaining has broken down, it’s an ongoing series of problems that never seem to get anywhere … you can’t say let’s all be nice about it when the company doesn’t come to the relationship with clean hands.”, Fenton says.

The Meat Workers Union have been robust in their social media comments. They haven’t been nice about Talleys. But they have always told the truth. If they hadn’t, Talleys would already have filed charges of defamation. Here’s a sample:


This is a firm that regularly kills workers, yet they can’t handle being told off by a union official? Really?

This case is bullying on an industrial scale.

If Talleys win, and effectively silence the Meat Workers Union, you can bet the Standard and Martyn Bradbury’s Daily Blog will be next. Then the wider media can expect to be threatened with law suits if they report the many deaths and maimings on Talley’s  ships and in their abattoirs. Because  why would Talley’s stop with just beating the workers into silence?

They have vast financial resources and the well used ability to tie organisations into protracted and costly legal battles.

They have that much money they don’t even care whether they win or lose. Their legal strategy is to starve out their opponents.

Don’t buy Talley’s products. You won’t be alone. The Talley’s group is already under massive pressure in the British market place, where a fair percentage of their product is sold. They have been under investigation for ethics breaches by some of the biggest supermarket chains. I understand one well known retailer is about to drop them as a supplier because they don’t meet the standards of ethical  behaviour they require.

Talleys need NZ, but NZ doesn’t need Talleys.

And look after free speech, folks, you’ll miss it when it’s gone!







33 comments on “Talleys versus Free Speech ”

  1. Neil 1

    It should read “Talleys need NZ, but does NZ need Talleys.
    Not “Talleys need NZ, but NZ does need Talleys.”

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    this issues resonates (or has potential to) with so many New Zealanders, precedent in favour of Talleys on this would be a significant attack on freedom of association, assembly and expression for all citizens

    Air NZ and Fonterra are other prominent employers that trawl employees social media, along with many others and it has been apparent for some time that it is often wise to leave your personal smart devices in the car or a drawer while “on the clock” as well as taking care on social media

    I don’t know what the tipping point or trigger will be for an all out, or even strongly targeted consumer boycott to be called for on Talleys product but it surely it has to be considered soon; the NZCTU could get into all sorts of legal mire if they as an organisation formally called for a boycott, but there has to be a method (heh, social media?) because Talleys has to be bought to heel before it is too late–they really are a candidate for being nationalised without compensation and Sir Peter’s etc. mansions handed over to the homeless!

    • Leftie 2.1

      Haven’t bought Talley products for some years now, and have told family & friends why they should boycott Talley’s too.

      • McFlock 2.1.1

        I really like marinated mussels, but every time I pass the seafood cabinet I see “Talleys” and end up not even buying Sealord lol.

      • mosa 2.1.2

        Same here Leftie.
        After Sealords massive donation to the Brash led National party their products are off our shopping list.
        Talley’s are the reason we need strong union support backed up with good Labour Law.
        This government is just as bad as Talley’s because they accept a large donation to allow Talley’s too behave like this and not act responsibly.
        Well done Darian Fenton and the union for standing firm.

      • mosa 2.1.3

        Same here Leftie.
        After Sealords massive donation to the Brash led National party their products are off our shopping list.
        Talley’s are the reason we need strong union support backed up with good Labour Law.
        This government is just as bad as Talley’s because they accept a large donation to allow Talley’s too behave like this and not act responsibly.
        Well done Darian Fenton and the union for standing firm.

  3. adam 3

    Great post te reo putake.

    I hope this highlights for people that cupidity is never satisfied. People who are greedy, just never have that scratch itched. Avarice, is a sure sign that an individual is in psychological quagmire.

    And before the whole “envy brigade” descend. Let me mention camels and needles. Conversely, how many mansions is too many, how many cars are too many? One or two mansions, eight or ten cars? talley has way more of both, he owns, and he owns, and he owns, but is never happy, never fulfilled.

    Here is the kicker, to squeeze that extra cent, or dollar which he thinks will make him happy or fulfill his dreams – he squeezes his workers.

    Now it seems – he’s driven to kick your rights to the curb as well. And for what? Cupidity/Greed/Avarice – which ultimately, can never be satisfied.

    • Gangnam Style 3.1

      It’s an illness, if he was hoarding newspapers like he does money he would be considered a little bit weird, but because it is money he gets a knighthood.

  4. This is serious. What this seeks to do is limit free speech, opposition and criticism of a company under Part 4 of the ERA beyond bargaining. It goes to any worker, union or other who have an “employment relationship” with an employer. Imagine this : The famous Rat could not be deployed by Unite or FIRST: the campaign for Zero Hours could never have happened because it talked about some employers, the equal pay case could never talk about the personal circumstances of individual workers. And there are so many examples. It’s a pitch in the wind as per usual with Talleys ; and it won’t go anywhere fast, but beware of criticising Sir Peter.

    • Bill 4.1

      A few years back a certain fast food company tried to have us up for communicating critically to ourselves about them – ie within the union. Went to the ERA. We got a slap on the wrists off the back of an absolute bullshit ruling from one of those ‘bosses lacky’ authority members (I think the guy’s retired now – it’s been a while).

      Anyway, we could have taken it to the employment court and our advice was that we would absolutely win the case – from memory, a union is viewed as a person due to its incorporated status and so it’s utterly ludicrous to assume you can prevent or sanction any internal dialogue. But finances…time…We let it go.

      As I said below, Talleys are just playing silly buggers. They must already know they don’t have a shit show. But spare resources to distract and bleed a union? Yup. I can see why they’re doing it.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.2

      Can the lawyers petition the court for punitive damages on the basis of extreme bad faith and repeat offending?

      I think that Mr. Talley’s obscene behaviour makes a strong case that persistent recidivist human rights abuse should be added to the Crimes Act.

      Not to mention that filth don’t merit honours.

  5. Bill 5

    So , unless the benchmark of reasonableness has been thrown out – where a comment on facebook or wherever would be deemed to be reasonable under the circumstances, then there’s nothing to see.

    And unless a union (an incorporated body) is now going to be unable to communicate with itself…then again, there’s nothing to see.

    Talleys are pissing in the wind.

    • Richard Christie 5.1

      Talleys are pissing in the wind.

      Unfortunately, they are well aware that that buying a raincoat and umbrella is costly.

  6. gsays 6

    Thanks trp for this.

    A chance perhaps for us to practice a little civil disobedience?

    Low level direct protest.

    Grab a bag of Talley’s product, put in trolley, key bag open then return to freezer.

    • Brigid 6.1

      I have a friend who likes to buy Talley’s peas. But invariably by the time he gets to the toilet paper aisle he remembers he’s got plenty of peas at home, so he’s leaves it with the toilet paper so the next person who wants Talley’s peas doesn’t have to go allllll the way to the freezer to get it. Kind fellow he is.

      • gsays 6.1.1

        Very kind, ironic that he is near the dunny rolls when talleys comes to mind.

    • Leftie 6.2

      Gsays, I think not buying Talley products would be a better form of protest.

      • gsays 6.2.1

        Hi leftie, I would call that boycott rather than protesting.

        The main reason for suggesting the keying is to get folk engaged in something they may not normally do.

        As paul kelly says: from little things big thing grow.

    • Wensleydale 6.3

      Or a limited print run of adhesive stickers reading “May contain traces of urine and faeces.” Can’t see many people buying Talley’s products plastered with those.

  7. b waghorn 7

    Have the Meat Workers Union approached farmers directly or through the feds.?
    Most farmers believe in people getting a fair go ,if there was pressure coming from the supply side towards talleys it might help.

    • There’s a bit of that going on, b w. Talleys plants are mostly out in the regions and their corporate behaviour has a significant effect on local communities. However, that also means that, to an extent, that those places are company towns, so fear keeps the locals in line.

      At an industry level, the other big players have had a guts full too, A court decision recently went against Talleys around whether or not industry seasonal employees had an ongoing employment relationship.

      Talley’s, of course, argued that the workers had no relationship between the seasons and started fresh as new workers each new season. The court said otherwise and as a result, the other companies who had always quietly acknowledged the ongoing relationships anyway, are now bound by an even stricter interpretation of the law.

      Talley’s desire to casualise their own workforce has forced the entire industry in to a corner.

      • b waghorn 7.1.1

        The government should go the whole hog and force the meat companies to hire people on full time 52 weeks a year contracts with all the protection and stability that comes with , .

        • te reo putake

          That would be great, but the reality is that its a seasonal industry. This time of year, meat workers are doing their off season jobs or taking their holidays. That’s the accepted nature of the industry. Some will be at the few works that open to kill bobby calves, but most will be doing whatever work they can find. The key thing is retain their employment status over the break, so they return to the same terms and conditions. Which in the industry centres around seniority. That means you return to the same job, same pay each season and don’t have to work your way back up every year. That system works fine in the vast majority of plants, but not Talley’s for some reason.

          • Rosemary McDonald

            “…. but not Talley’s for some reason.”

            “Talley’s” and “reason” in the same sentence?

            A stretch, surely?

            Good work, btw, (off to Pak n Save now….)

            I will NOT be buying Talley’s products.

            So there, Sir Peter.

    • mosa 7.2

      If farmers believe in giving people a fair go then why as a industry do they insist on supporting the National party election after election and always have.
      National takes them for granted and are the last party in NZ interested in doing anything fair except for the landed gentry and rich business men.

  8. Macro 8

    I NEVER buy Talleys – and I saw some in the Spud Shed here is Baldivis last week. A low cost vege / grocery supermarket that regularly sells NZ products way below their price back home eg Vogels Muesli $1-90 a packet! So Talleys are obviously having to dump excess product off shore.
    Keep it up folks!

  9. Mrs Brillo 9

    That’s interesting, Macro.
    Would you mind noting what other New Zealand products are being dumped below cost round your way?
    An interested consumer would like to know.

    • Macro 9.1

      West coast butter is always cheap
      Mussels – the kind McFlock likes
      Griffins Biscuits.
      And Ceros organic tinned tomatoes last week for around 70c per tin.

      There is a large Kiwi presence around this part of the City so they cater for us as well I suspect. .
      But no Marmite 🙁
      Or Manuka Honey – “honeys off dear” They are very strict on the importation of honey into WA.

  10. georgecom 10

    first person who can post the work phone numbers of some of the Talleys HR and top managers will get my thanks.

    If such numbers appeared I would spend part of my Monday phoning these clowns and telling how pathetic I think their current legal action is. Am struggling to think of something in recent NZ Industrial Relations history which is so pathetic and petty.

  11. rod 11

    I wonder what John Key thinks about it all. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is relaxed about it.

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