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Three years on, will Wairoa AFFCO workers finally be paid?

Written By: - Date published: 9:27 am, December 8th, 2018 - 26 comments
Categories: labour - Tags:

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the Talley’s owned AFFCO’s latest attempt to prevent justice for the workers they were found to have unlawfully locked out in 2015.

In 2015, AFFCO unlawfully locked out Meat Workers Union members at Rangiuru, Feilding and Moerewa plants after they tried to impose significantly inferior individual agreements as a condition of returning to work after the season.

At the Wairoa plant, union members refused to sign the individual agreements and were without work for five months. When the first Employment Court decision came out, they were on the lawns of Parliament and they celebrated, believing they were going back to work.

However, AFFCO then tried to return them all to work on the night shift, despite the majority never having worked night shift. It took another two mediations and court cases to get AFFCO to act reasonably so Wairoa workers could return to work on individual agreements based on the collective agreement.

Then came the issue of lost wages. Another two court cases with AFFCO arguing Wairoa workers shouldn’t be paid lost wages, but if they were, they were obliged to demonstrate mitigation – in other words, what other work or social welfare benefits they received.

The Judge finally ruled that the Wairoa workers were entitled to lost wages without mitigation. This is what AFFCO appealed, on the grounds that the workers weren’t entitled to payment under the Wages Protection Act because they weren’t employees at the time they were locked out.

Thankfully, this appeal was dismissed. However, AFFCO workers aren’t celebrating just yet. They know only too well how AFFCO seems to lean over backwards to deny their wrong doing.

The original court decision was challenged by AFFCO in the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court, along with other actions such as seeking a stay of judgement and application for judicial review. The Meat Workers Union has lost count of the court actions taken, not only for the Wairoa workers but all AFFCO workers. There are still outstanding issues of loss of wages for other sites as well, not yet addressed.

Wairoa Meat Workers Union members are calling on AFFCO to do the right thing.

“We have been through so much” says Therese Turipa, Meat Workers Union site President and detain operator in ovine and bovine at the Wairoa plant.

“Through five months, our families were without wages and it was only with the support of the community, our union and the wider union movement we managed to get through. But it left scars that continue to this day. We’ve lost members due to hardship and even death. Even worse, AFFCO has lost skilled and dedicated workers who have had no choice but to move to other places to find work.

Pete Amato NZMWU Shed Secretary and Beef Slaughterman agrees.

“We keep hoping AFFCO will do the right thing and promptly pay Wairoa union members for the terrible loss they incurred by standing up to the Company in 2015. We’ve been through court case after court case and in every instance, AFFCO was found to have unlawfully locked us out.

“We all just want to move on. Our small community and our whanau have suffered and we need to begin the rebuilding. We hope that AFFCO will accept this decision so we can begin to put the past behind us” says Pete.

We all gotta hope so and this is the end of this ugly saga in NZ Employment Relations.

26 comments on “Three years on, will Wairoa AFFCO workers finally be paid?”

  1. Dean Reynolds 1

    Talley’s are the worst employers in NZ. That’s why Key knighted Peter Talley

    • Jum 1.1

      Key knighted talley for donations via dinners and attacks on workers’ rights. Key hated workers; english hated workers, national hates workers. talley will never change its spots; I don’t know why anybody continues to buy their products given the job market is so tight and workers can get work elsewhere, or is that not true?’

      talley is happy for its workers to be injured. The amount they have to pay in reparation is nothing compared to their profit margin. Where is the justice for the workers?

      They want the american way, with sped-up killing lines and zero inspectors or inspectors with so little influence that it’s zero anyway.

  2. Frankie and Benjie 2

    I still boycott Talley’s products whenever I’m aware of the company’s involvement (hard to know sometimes). I do far more of the house hold shopping than I used to at the moment.
    I may change my stance if there is any publicity of a change in their industrial relations as I don’t want to punish the workers. However there doesn’t seem to be any other way to pressure the decision makers in these companies. New legislation would give the opposition too many chances to sow fear and misinformation.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      I still boycott Talley’s products whenever I’m aware of the company’s involvement (hard to know sometimes).

      The point of branding and front corporations is to hide the owners from justice.

      • Tricledrown 2.1.1

        Oligarch Talley me banana would have every worker on zerp hour minimum wages if he could like in his vegetable empire

  3. gsays 3

    Thanks for this post and reminding us of the great work unions do.

    Also a salient reminder of the attitude of Talleys.

    BTW, Feilding has the first i following the e.

  4. Is there any law that allows consumers or workers to petition for the likes of the Talley brothers to be barred from running a company? After all, the courts routinely stop people who are cruel to cattle from owning animals or working on farms.

    Why shouldn’t the same principal apply to businessmen who exploit workers?

    • patricia bremner 4.1

      Well put te reo putake.

    • Sam 4.2

      It’s in the board constitution under what reasons Baord members can be removed. Then you’ve got to get the votes. Up to a vote usually people go for settlements with a canon pointed at the targets head.

      • Barfly 4.2.1

        cannon?

        • Sam 4.2.1.1

          Resting control of some ones company, “blowing away there hopes and dreams. Mounting agresive take overs and building an empire in your own image requires some big gear.

          Some hints. Who is supposed to vote on your proposal? Money can buy you attention, money can buy you marketing and political skill, but money can’t buy you votes. And if the largest part of the board thinks that your plan sucks, you’ll find out rather soon that convincing them to change their mind and vote for you isn’t such an easy undertaking, especially when they think you are going against there best financial interests. What’s good for them is good for the comapany.

        • patricia bremner 4.2.1.2

          Hi Barfly, good to know you still visit.

      • darien fenton 4.2.2

        Talley’s is not a public company. Their transactions are secret and there are no public reporting requirements or accountability, other than what is reported through the Companies office. This is a family owned, family controlled business.

        • Sam 4.2.2.1

          Democratic controls use mind control. Not force.

          If first you don’t succeed. Go after the distributors. If not go after the suppliers, if not go after them in courts, if not go after them in local and state legislative control. And if the company that you think is so shitty. Then go full water protector Dekota style.

          Companies shouldn’t have rights the people don’t gift them.

  5. patricia bremner 5

    A court watcher’s lament.

    Talley’s bally bunch of “Walleys.”
    Will they ever learn?
    Locked out workers and customers
    They must have money to burn?
    There isn’t any kindness or even any sense,
    As back to court they go to save few mean pence.
    Talleys have no respect or employer nous
    They really are “no use” just like a louse.
    The courts should apply their final verdict
    To pay their locked out workers quick!!
    As three long years make us all SICK!!!
    Do what you should you bully scum,
    Stop giving them grief, just pay the sum.

    Written with heart not skill LOL.

  6. Ian 6

    I allways buy Talleys frozen veggies because they are ALL grown in New Zealand and are the Best.Locally owned too which is a big bonus.

  7. Craig H 7

    Is the full decision available online anywhere?

  8. cleangreen 8

    Boycott Talley’s products i say.

    I will have my family do this!!!

    Where is the Labour Government now???

    Labour!!! i voted for you expecting you would now be giving our workers better treatment.

    But am not seeing this happe!!!!!

    So wake up Labour and fix the bad Talley attitude & horrible treatment of our Affco workers!!!!

    “let’s do this”Jacinda!!

  9. Ed 9

    Never buy Talleys.

  10. patricia bremner 10

    Cleangreen, it would be Andrew Little who should admonish Talleys.

    • cleangreen 10.1

      True Patricia,

      But I am ‘challenging’ what Jacinda said at the Whitangi day speach last January where she said; – “Keep eyes on what we have promised as we need to be pulled up is we fail in our promises”

      • darien fenton 10.1.1

        The government has just passed new employment laws. Many of the previous laws now repealed were used by Talleys such as denying access, cutting down the number of meals and rest breaks, refusing to conclude bargaining, refusing to let delegates have time off to represent members etc etc. I can tell you AFFCO workers are very pleased with the government.

  11. Tamati Tautuhi 11

    Talley’s being a bit tight IMHO ?

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