Jim Sutton Can Run But He Can't Hide
"Jim Sutton's first priority must be to get his MAF employed vets back to work. If that means postponing his week-long trip abroad, then so be it. The immediate needs of New Zealand farmers and provincial New Zealand must come first," National Agriculture spokesperson Gavan Herlihy said today.
"Any new-found concern by the Government about the vets' strike is like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. To make matters worse Jim is now bolting, leaving on Saturday to Japan and Hong Kong, and not returning till March 3.
"Jim Sutton is farmers' sole representative in Cabinet. Cabinet needs to realise that farmers are the ones that will pay for any increased pay deal for the vets, not MAF or the Government that created the problem. The way forward is not a soft settlement, in which our meat farmers have to foot the costs.
"Over the past week, the Government has sat on its hands while a select bunch of its own employees have positioned themselves to hold the country and our farmers to ransom.
"The Opposition has repeatedly said that the environment created by Employment Relations Act would lead to union aggression not seen in New Zealand since the 1980s. The vets' strike, together with the Waterfront Workers Union's attempts to re-establish a monopoly on our wharves, show our concerns were well founded.
"Jim Sutton's disappearance at such a crucial time doesn't give anyone any confidence that this Government is serious about bringing the vets' strike to a satisfactory conclusion," Mr Herlihy said.