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

 

Economic Update: RBNZ Says Rate Cut Seems Likely

The Reserve Bank will likely cut interest rates further as a persistently strong kiwi dollar makes it difficult for the bank to meet its inflation target, it said. The local currency fell. More>>

ALSO:

House Price Action Plan: RBNZ Signals National Lending Restrictions

The central bank wants to cap bank lending to property investors with a deposit of less than 40 percent at 5 percent and restore the 10 percent limit for owner-occupiers wanting to take out a mortgage with a deposit of less than 20 percent, according to a consultation paper released today. More>>

ALSO:

Sparks Fly: Gordon Campbell On China Steel Dumping Allegations

No doubt, officials on the China desk at MFAT have prided themselves on fashioning a niche position for New Zealand right in between the US and China – and leveraging off both of them! Well, as the Aussies would say, of MFAT: tell ‘em they’re dreaming. More>>

ALSO:

Loan Sharks: Finance Companies Found Guilty Of Breaching Fair Trading Act

Finance companies Budget Loans and Evolution Finance, run by former 1980s corporate high-flyer Allan Hawkins, have been found guilty of 106 charges of breaching the Fair Trading Act for misleading 21 borrowers while enforcing loan contracts. More>>

ALSO:

Post Panama Papers: Govt To Adopt Shewan's Foreign Trust Recommendations

The government will adopt all of the recommendations from former PwC chairman John Shewan to increase disclosure and introduce a register for foreign trusts with new legislation to be introduced next month. More>>

ALSO:

The Price Of Cheese: Cheddar At Eight-Year Low

Food prices decreased 0.5 percent in the year to June 2016, influenced by lower grocery food prices (down 2.3 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today. Compared with June 2015, cheese prices were down 9.5 percent, fresh milk was down 3.9 percent, and yoghurt was down 9.2 percent. More>>

ALSO:

Financial Advisers: New 'Customer-First' Obligations

Goldsmith plans to do away with the current adviser designations which he says have been "unsatisfactory" in that some advisers are obliged to disclose potential conflicts of interest and act in their customers' best interests, but others are not. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Business
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news