Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


Meatworkers lockout stoush with Talley's Affco back in court

Affco and Meatworkers Union square off in court again over Wairoa lockout

By Fiona Rotherham

Jan. 25 (BusinessDesk) - An Employment Court hearing has begun in Auckland over stalled negotiations between Talley’s-owned meat processor Affco and the Meat Workers Union on a return to work by 200 Wairoa freezing workers who have been out of work for the past 135 days.

The Court unanimously decided in November that Affco's lockout of freezing workers at plants across the North Island who had refused to sign individual contracts earlier in the year was illegal. It also said that Affco had breached section 32 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 by not acting in good faith while collective bargaining was continuing.

Workers at other plants eventually returned to work under the new contracts but a number of Wairoa workers refused to sign.

Both parties were ordered to return to mediation on the Wairoa return to work and any remedies were postponed until after that occurred. However further mediation talks have failed to resolve the long-running stoush. An urgent hearing before Christmas where the union sought an injunction failed, but the judge ruled the union had an arguable case and the hearing, set down for three days, was brought forward to today.

Around 10 of the Wairoa freezing workers turned up in the public gallery at today’s hearing before Judge Bruce Corkill, sporting green union “jobs that count” t-shirts., which the company has banned workers from wearing on its sites.

Under dispute are the terms and conditions on which they return to work. The union told the court today that Affco, the country’s fourth-largest meat processor, continues to insist the locked-out workers should restart work on the nightshift, which the union contends is unreasonable and discriminatory.

Union lawyer Peter Cranney told the court Affco asserted it had a “right to transfer anyone, anytime, to any job.”

Meatworkers Union national secretary Graham Cooke gave evidence that the collective agreement contains seniority provisions which means nearly all the Wairoa workers should start on a day shift, even though that means non-union members already employed may need to have their position changed. Day-shift workers are often employed longer throughout the season – for up to 10 months compared to a typical five months for a night-shift worker.

Typically meat companies start the season with a day shift and build up to include a second shift at night as stock numbers rise and the season peaks.

However, Affco has for the first time started the season with both a day and night-time shift at all its North Island plants apart from Moerewa, and contends that, had the lockout never occurred, the workers involved would all have been employed on the night shift.

Cooke admitted under cross-examination that seniority was not the only consideration taken into account when staff were reengaged for the season but he said it was standard throughout the industry that it was the predominant factor.

Cooke also claimed that it was uneconomic for the company to be running two shifts at the start of the season and that it had only done so because it wanted to put all workers at once onto the new terms and conditions under the individual contracts.

Affco's lawyer, Paul Wicks QC, said the company’s decision could have rested on a number of things, including climate, economic factors, and the inability of competitors to buy stock at this time.

Cooke said member feedback was that the plants were processing low stock numbers and that they were working reduced hours and earning low wages.

The company’s evidence was that it had “more employees, working longer, and earning more", Wicks said.

A second court case set down for November claiming the company walked away from negotiations on the collective contract that expired in 2013 was postponed until after the mediation talks on the lockout issue.

Affco was the first under the government’s new employment law to apply for an end to bargaining under amendments to the Employment Relations Act which lets firms opt out of multi-employer agreements and removed the duty under good faith bargaining for both sides to reach agreement.

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Season Ends: Is Whitebaiting Sustainable?

The whitebait fry - considered a delicacy by many - are the juveniles of five species of galaxiid, four of which are considered threatened or declining. The SMC asked freshwater experts for their views on the sustainability of the whitebait fishery and whether we're doing enough to monitor the five species of galaxiid that make up whitebait. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: Smaller-Than-Expected Four-Month Deficit

The New Zealand government's accounts recorded a smaller-than-forecast deficit in the first four months of the fiscal year on a higher-than-expected inflow of corporate and goods and services tax. More>>

ALSO:

On For Christmas: KiwiRail Ferries Back In Full Operation After Quake

KiwiRail’s Interislander ferries are back in full operation for the first time since the Kaikoura earthquake, with the railspan that allows rail wagons to be loaded on the Aratere now restored. More>>

ALSO:

Comerce Commission Investigation: Prosecutions Over Steel Mesh Labelling

Steel & Tube Holdings, along with two other companies, will be prosecuted by the Commerce Commission following the regulator's investigation into seismic steel mesh, while Fletcher Building's steel division has been given a warning. More>>

ALSO:

Wine: 20% Of Marlborough Storage Tanks Damaged By Quake

An estimated 20 percent of wine storage tanks in the Marlborough region, the country’s largest wine producing area, have been damaged by the impact of the recent Kaikoura earthquake. More>>

ALSO:

ACC: Levy Recommendations For 2017 – 2019 Period

• For car owners, a 13% reduction in the average Motor Vehicle levy • For businesses, a 10% reduction in the average Work levy, and changes to workplace safety incentive products • For employees, due to an increase in claims volumes and costs, a 3% increase in the Earners’ levy. More>>

Women's Affairs: Government Accepts Recommendations On Pay Equity

The Government will update the Equal Pay Act and amend the Employment Relations Act to implement recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news