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A taste of things to come: Union denied access

March 24, 2011
For Immediate Use

A taste of things to come: Union denied access to members

Even before the Government’s cynical employment law changes come into effect on April 1st, PSA union officials are being denied access to union members working at the Affco Imlay meat plant in Wanganui.

Under a collective agreement between the public sector union and the meat inspectors’ employer AsureQuality, the PSA must give reasonable notice of any meetings with its members. Despite doing so, PSA union organiser Mike Farrell was denied access when he gave timely notice of his intention to meet with meat inspector union members working at the Affco Imlay plant.

“This is in breach of the legislation. The PSA remains determined to meet with its meat inspector members at 10am, Friday 25th March . Union access is a fundamental right, whether that access takes place on the employer’s property or, as in this case, a workplace that the employer doesn’t control,” says the public sector union’s National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.

“It’s very rare to be denied access, especially when following agreed procedures. If union members are being denied the right to meet with their representatives now, imagine how it’s going to be after April 1st when union officials seeking to enter workplaces must first gain employer consent?,” says PSA organiser Mike Farrell.

“In a letter to the PSA, Affco said our organiser was being denied access to the plant to meet with members because the union had openly disagreed with a company-led meat inspection trial that’s currently underway at the plant. This is not legitimate ground on which to deny access. Our members have grave concerns about these company-led trials and they have a legitimate right to voice those through their union,” says Richard Wagstaff.

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“Now we’re being told we can’t meet with our members on Friday because EU officials are visiting the plant. This is somewhat ironic given that the EU promotes dialogue between employers and trade unions,” says Richard Wagstaff.

“There’s been a lack of transparency around the company-led inspection trial at Imlay. The meat industry and the Food Safety Authority have given little opportunity to our meat inspector members to participate in it which has only served to strengthen their belief that the meat industry will take shortcuts if inspection is put into its hands.

“Now attempts are being made to block us from meeting with our members. We don’t accept this. We plan to go ahead and meet with our members at 10am, Friday 25th March ,” says Richard Wagstaff.


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