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NZVA Calls For Moderation In Dispute

Media Release 14 February 2001 For immediate release

NZVA Calls For Moderation In Dispute

"Public comments by Federated Farmers that they were considering publishing the names and addresses of striking meat vets are inflammatory and intimidating," says Murray Gibb, CEO, of the New Zealand Veterinary Association.

Commenting on statements made by Tony St. Clair, of Federated Farmers on 'Morning Report' today during an interview on the MAF Verification Agency employment dispute, Mr Gibb said that such action if carried out would probably be in breach of the Privacy Act, and therefore illegal.

"The NZVA has members on both sides of the dispute and so is in a difficult position. So far we have refrained from public comment. However Tony St. Clair went way too far this morning and should withdraw his comments," Mr Gibb said.

"Representative bodies have to sing to their constituencies, but in this dispute there has been far too much public rhetoric, as well as misinfor mation being put out. This is giving a distorted picture of the issue to the public."

"The collective employment contract between veterinarians and their employer expired two years ago and both sides have been trying to negotiate a new agreement since then. Blaming the strike on the new Employment Relations Act is therefore illogical," he said.

"In addition it has been claimed that these vets are the highest paid civil servants earning in excess of $100,000 per year. This is incorrect. There are three categories of staff veterinarians in MAFVA; meat veterinarians, supervising veterinarians (grade 1), and supervising veterinarians (grade 2). The maximum base pay scale for these three categories, without overtime and allowances, is $66,792, $69,025 and $71,500," said Mr Gibb.

"All parties involved want to avoid a strike and see the dispute resolved immediately. Both NUPE and MAF have stated they do not plan to meet again before the strike. NZVA urges both parties to reconsider their priorities and get back around the negotiating table.

"The salary negotiations are but one of many relevant issues that need to be dealt with at the MAF Verification Authority. These include career paths for veterinarians within the Authority, changing job specifications, application of the optimum regulatory model to the industry as well as future directions for the body," he said.
"The farming community and the processing industry are recovering from some very lean years. Farmers have been through a very tough period and need and deserve the returns they are getting at the moment, to sustain the industry and make up for the very poor returns they've have for many seasons now. A disruption such as this is extremely unhelpful, particularly to the European Easter trade for lamb.

"It has been suggested that the strike will cause animal welfare problems. Veterinarians working in MAFVA are professional people and there is just no way they will allow the strike to compromise their ethical obligations in this area," he commented.

Ends

For further information contact: Murray Gibb, Chief Executive Officer New Zealand Veterinary Association phone (04) 471 0484 fax (04) 471 0494 cellphone 025 916 956

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