Why don’t they accept jobs with Affco on new contracts?


Simon Oosterman and Helen Kelly are trying to take New Zealand back to the sixties and seventies. The ideological battle they are fighting is doing their union members no favours.

Locked-out and striking North Island meatworkers have arrived at the Talley family’s Motueka homes in a bid to tell the freezing work owners how their communities have been ripped apart.
Thirty-three locked-out workers and three children travelled to Nelson last night from each of the Talley’s eight North Island Affco plants in Moerewa; Wiri, Auckland; Horotiu, near Hamilton; Rangiuru, near Te Puke; Napier; Wairoa; Feilding and Whanganui for the protest.

They represent the 1300 locked out and striking workers who have been without pay since February 29.

After this morning’s protest outside the Talley family’s Motueka homes, the group will return to Nelson to be joined by 200 workers from a Nelson fishing company for a noon protest march in Trafalgar St, which will end with speeches at the Church Steps.

Word from inside the union is that disgrunted workers are leaving the union in their hundreds to sign on to new contracts that pay them about 5% more that what they are currently earning. Perhaps the Meatworkers Union should concentrate on properly filing their accounts rather than disturbing the peace in Motueka.


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  • Bawaugh

    Can someone please explain how the union is unable to get the 5% increase in pay for their workers? Is the Employer paying workers to quit the union or are there other issues at stake here which is stopping the union from taking the pay rise?

    Are there issues of rosters etc which are the main issue.?

    • More than likely its the hidden allowances top ups they’ll be forfeiting – but increasing the base hourly rate. Most workers would probably end weighing up how often they get those allowances against an increase base rate and decide if they’re personally better off. The Union meantime is probably just looking at the loss of the extras and demanding an increase in the base rate as well.

      • Scanner

         Bullshit, it’s now 2012 not 1963, many of the allowances were gained by stand over tactics when the union had some muscle 30 years ago and are irrelevant today.
        Look closely you will find the the bulk of the grizzling and agitating comes from a group of 55+ year old whingers who wouldn’t work in an iron lung, that stand a chance of having to give up their cushy jobs to younger people who actually want to work.
        Sack the fucking lot of them and start again, better still shut the plant down and call it a union victory

      • @ef4fd4a89d77bdd1c64dd09f540ed4f0:disqus I’m not sure you even read my post – we’re actually saying the same thing – very strange I was actually answering Bawaugh’s question above

        “Can someone please explain how the union is unable to get the 5% increase in pay for their workers?”
        And offering that the Union were being fuckwits and focusing on losing allowances and not looking a basic pay rates? And that’s probably why some workers are leaving the union and signing up….

    • Gaharis

      I understand the 5% increase is tied to agreeing to an individual contract and therefore abandoning the old award. From what I have heard the major objection to what Talley’s are wanting is the old union worry over ‘loss of seniority’. I understand some of the Affco Feilding union members are over 65 and they consider that each new season they should be the first taken back on because they are ‘senior’.

      The 300 who Talley’s offered to take back to work were only required to confirm where they wanted their pays to go, as far as I can see there were no tricks. Of course without secret ballots it would take some courage to “vote” against long standing and eloquent union officials.

      Finally from what I have seen and heard, at least in Feilding, Affco managers have been quite understanding of the dilemma faced by young family orientated union members who want to return to work.

    • Sarrs

      The issue at hand is seniority. At the moment, the most senior employees are guaranteed the same job on the same conditions (or better) next season, regardless of performance. Affco wants the ability to decide who they bring back next season and in which job at what rates. 

      Most people who are leaving the Union are aware that if they work hard, they will come into a better position next season because there will be vacancies. At present, there is a log jam of people who have worked there for 20 or 30 years who are doing jobs that others could do better and more efficiently. This doesn’t leave much motivation for those at the bottom of the chain to work hard to get better positions, they just have to basically tread water until someone above them retires or dies. 

    • Random66

      Bawaugh I have a brother-in-law who works at Horotiu. He signed a non-union contract that gave him a higher wage in recognition that he was now defined as ‘casual’. The union are strongly fighting against the casualization of the work force and therefore the 5% wage offer is not being made available to them. The trouble is enough workers have now crossed the line for Talleys to be able to function reasonably well so the union appear to have lost that needed labour leverage.  I’m no expert, just repeating what he has said.

      •  Random – the protests at Imlay in Wanganui are getting smaller by the week. If it wasn’t for the Meat Workers Union staff and their EPMU mates, there’d be not may there at all.

      • Sarrs

        Check out the employment relations decisions on ‘casual vs permanent’ employees. There is no way that Affco could argue that staff employed during the season are ‘casual’ – and they should know that. Most of the cases focus on 1. Is there an expectation that work will be offered on a weekly basis, 2. How that information is conveyed and what notice is given, and 3. Does the employee have the right to refuse work without jeopardising their future employment.

        Affco should know that just by simply stating ‘casual’ on a contract, does not a casual contract make. The ERA has very strict guidelines and tests for these situations and I think, ultimately, your brother-in-law would be on what is probably a fixed term contract (the term being the season) with no guarantee that he will be offered work in the following season. 

      • Dave

        In reply to Sarrs.   I believe you are correct re casuals.    However, as an interim  measure, it works well.  

        My theory.   They employ “Joe”  as a casual for say, 3 months, or for the season.   Then, at a certain point, they say to “Joe”  you have performed well, subject to your continual performance, we offer you ongoing employment under an individual employment agreement, which ALSO gives you preference to any (short term) off season work, and being amongst the first on next season.  This clearly puts Talleys, the EMPLOYER, back in control of their workforce.  Smart strategy!! 

        If this or something similar is taking place, it has a very good chance of making making the unions redundant, so of course Kelly and chicken Little etc are very opposed to it, as are all Labour politicians, its their future at stake, not the union members.

    • Guest

      Which part of “NZ workers 30% less productive than Oz” did your state education fail to prepare you to understand.

      NZ wage rates need to drop by 30-40%, not increase.

      • AnonymousCoward

         Or management manage 30% better or workers work 30% smarter.

  • Richard B.

    I read somewhere that a ‘Locked Out’ worker was taking his children and grandchildren with him to the home of the Talleys.

    My questions would be:
    Why are the children not at work? – I wouldn’t want to appear on national TV in Motueka if I had called in sick in Feilding. But I guess you don’t need a medical certificate for the WINZ office.

    Why are the grandchildren not at school? – Shouldn’t these parents be charged under the truancy laws ? Same should also have been for the MUNZ picket.

    I hope the Talleys were away that day. They knew the dicks were coming.
    “Lets all go and shout outside an empty home for an hour, that will show them we mean business”

  • Scanner

    Still no word from Ms Kelly on her salary package, I wonder if the”workers” would be so happy to stand “united” behind her if her details were ever to see the light of day.

    Nothing disinfects like sunlight.

  • Dave

    To me, the union is causing severe financial hardship to their loyal members.   Even if they manage to get a 10% pay rise, what has it cost to achieve it.   Given a 30 week season, all the striking / locked out workers, a 10% rise, equates to 3 weeks work to earn the same as the previous season…….    This strike will mean the average worker, will loose money, no matter what the outcome.    

    Given the latest legislation, at least the union would have to outline options, and then call for a ballot.   One would think, the younger workers, would vote against the strike.    

    Surely by NOW the union, has to be concerned about the members leaving, and signing on to individual contracts, and earning money for their families.   Hopefully, it is the start of an avalanche, as others see them working and earning, whilst they remain loyal to their corrupt union.

    Finally – who paid for the workers and 3 children (who should have been in school) to travel to Motueka….. a huge cost, better spent on food and welfare parcels for all union members.

    • AngryTory

      To me, the union is causing severe financial hardship to their loyal members

      well that’s certainly one of the good outcomes of this battle!   

       better spent on food and welfare parcels for all union members

      as in 1951, this should be illegal.   Strikers – indeed all unionists, for what’s a unionist except a striker? – should be starving in the gutter.

  • Blokeintakapuna

    The unions are fighting for relevance in 2012 along with their very existance. Their business/organisation model is based on 1950’s union solidarity and activism causing enough sustained industrial disruption so the unions can then extort the affected employer to pay more / give more, when the unions will “allow” work to continue, which in turn gives the masses the “impression” that the unions are thier “knights in shining armour” Where as all along they’re playing the workers as pawns in a political game for their own ends.

    Coupled with an over blown sense of entitlement from a heritage of parasitic existance, no wonder the Labour Party and the unions don’t want their traditional voter base to be able to think for themselves, vote for themselves without standover tactics and coersion.

    Their base of supporters are being further eroded daily, because the workers have the ability to vote in secret… sometime against the wishes of the staunchest delegate whose very survival and relevance is inherantly linked to being able to hold both worker and employer at ransom as to their way of thinking / doing things. 

    • Jester

      Well said Bloke.

      When you state that the unions are “fighting for their very existance” that says it all.

      In a nutshell its not about workers per se, it is about what that worker represents to them.


      The union “sheilds” workers to protect the unions investment!.

      Labour “sheilds” the unions to protect Labours investment!

      The arrogance and irony of Andrew Little calling employers parasites should not be lost.

      The Unions feed off the worker at the same rate as a bad employer only the Unions do it by stealth.

    • Dave

      Totally agree Bloke.   Well said

    • Bigpotaka

      You realize talleys locked out 1000 people after 10 hours of negotiations for a new collective agreement and the workers only voted to have members strike after that action was taken don’t you? Do you realize talleys have “unlocked” 300 people under the guise of good faith,when in actuality the majority of those unlocked are from Imlay,where we don’t process beef and the lamb season is almost over,thus these workers are unlocked into a scenario where there is no work for them anyway?

      • Blokeintakapuna

        Well those that own the business, get to call ALL the shots – it’s their business, their property… and it’s not like they’re stopping people from working – it’s the unions trying to stop the workers from working as they attempt to insist on 1950’s style work practices and labour relations in 2012. The world has moved on – the unions haven’t.

        Besides – did the workers “vote” in a secret ballet, or were they coerced and intimidated into agreeing under the stern and watchful eyes of staunch, militant unionists an union organisers?

        Seems not all workers want to strike though – and those that dont – have accepted a 5% pay rise and have agreed to work under the rules the business owner decides, within the framework of NZ Employment Law – just like the rest of NZ…

    • Bunswalla

      Good points BIT, well made. The other side of the equation that unionists never consider is that their behaviour drives employers to negotiate hard. They know that whatever they offer the unions are going to try and chisel out an even better deal, so they necessarily start low.

      I think unions would be surprised to find what kind of deal can be arranged when both sides aren’t holding a loaded gun to the other’s head.

      Unfortunately unions believe that parasites, I mean employers, are always going to exploit workers and so a hard-line attritional approach is the only way to force them into giving workers a decent deal. Then, when they get some success, they push for more and more and end up with the stupid perks and allowances and rules like at Affco with seniority, and PoAL with the roster that puts workers on the port when they’re not needed.

      I’ve been employing staff for nearly 20 years (in my own business), as it turns out none have been union members but they know they’re able to join a union if they want to. Salary package negotiations have always been fair, equitable and amicable. I’ve invested hugely in my staff and would be very shortsighted in thinking I could screw them to the wall and if they don’t like it they can walk. 

      Both parties need the other to be successful and the absence of loaded guns to the head or implied threats of dire consequences makes the whole process a lot more pleasant and with a better outcome. 

      • Blokeintakapuna

        The unions always come from a confrontational, antagonistic frame of mind and stand point, because surviving off a parasitic existance such as theirs with their members is the only way the unions know how to “negotiate”

        The unions offer very little by way of real value to their members, but by virtue of being able to hold both the employer and employee to ransom, this has given them a mechanism to intercede between both, disguised as some form of legitimacy as being the “workers negotiator”

        The secret ballots also need transparency like another commentator mentioned, otherwise a ballot that doesn’t agree with a militant delegate could get trn up / shredded / lost / obfuscated… or be like a Syrian / Russiona election with the result already known before the ballot has even been cast.

      • AngryTory

         it turns out none have been union members 

        which explains your business’ success!

         they know they’re able to join a union if they want to

        hopefully they know they’d be out as soon as the signed the form! 

        Are you going to work for an employer, or are you going to join a union?  

    • AngryTory

       The unions are fighting for relevance in 2012 along with their very existence

      Good thing too! And more importantly, it’s a fight we’re winning

      If Key had half the balls of Ruth he’d of wiped them out in 2009!

  • Rocky

    I am a bit bemused that Talleys are bad employers yet they are the only Fishing Company who employ only New Zealanders in their sea going fishing operation including 26% Maori whereas the Maori Fishing Companies employ Philipinos or Indonesian.

    • Dave

      Rocky.   Perhaps the Maori fisheries  had some “inside knowledge” of the work ethics of some of the NZ workers.   I wonder why yhr union is not fighting them?

    • ConwayCaptain


      Talleys was bvehmently opposed to this employment of Filipino and Indonesian fishermen and came out and said so at the enquiry into the wages and conditions on thyese boats.

      What pisses kme off is that the old NZ Marine Dept had a worldwide reputation for efficient and good surveys of vessels.  Some were a bit over the top but when the ships came up for sale they were snatched up at a good price.

      Now we are letting these death traps in and working our waters.  Give me 15 mins and I can tell you if a ship is well maintained.

    • BJ

      Interesting that the Iwi themselves are happy to have very poor working conditions and negligible pay for foreign crew all in the name of company profit.

      • Phar Lap

        Good comment,interesting to hear Harawira from Whitemother ****** fame   lest we forget,  putting the boot into Talleys,and commenting how bad they are.


    Keep hearing there are no jobs for people in this country,and then I see well paid people bitching,striking,and saying their employer sucks.Then bitch more when they run out of money,cause they have not worked(employers fault yet again).FFS,how long before someone in this Striking union mob wake up and see that the offer on the table is fair,and not slave labour.Get a pay rise by stop paying union fees,because,the Unions are so out of touch,its scary.

    • AngryTory

      So long as there are benefits there are always alternatives to working.

  • Timandtim

    I am going to go out on a limb here…..Helen Kelly have now been fronting this strike now and the MUNZ one….it’s about her feeling important…have you noticed that the two biggest strikes this year … Which are both unresolved…started without Helen and now she is front and centre.

    I have said all along it is about leadership.

    Change the negotiator and all will be resolved

    • Dave

      TImTim   Or…..  is Auntie Helen increasing her media and public profile, in time to run for a very safe labour seat in a blue collar area.    Hmmm LOOK OUT TREV, she is waiting for you to FLY the coup, or remove your cosy perch.

      • Gazzaw

        Fuck. Trev’s much better looking.

      • Dave

        In reply to Gazzaw.

        If you think Trev is good looking your in the wrong blog.  Try this A totally gay stance

    • AngryTory

      Change the negotiator and all will be resolved

      Nope. The entire point of unions is to wage class war.  Change the negotiator is like swapping Himmler for Heydrich: makes no difference. The only acceptable outcome is the end of unions and unionism in NZ – and that includes not only economic terrorists like Hellen Kelly – but their political wings: Labour, Greens, Mana,…

      • Member of the General Public

        So lets have a government without all those parties…..a lovely one that creates a place were the chinese run out milk plants, own our farms and take our countries profits. Lets call NZ a place were money is worth more than morals, were our kids can learn that an employer can do what they like and workers have no rights.

        For you to state all of the above, one would assume that you are off the “class” that would benefit from squashing the general worker, I would love for you to spend a day in their shoes and then state the same.

        Also you said that a unionist was a striker…..excuse me but I thought that being locked out meant that your employer locked you out, preventing you from working. These workers had no choice, and if you reply by stating that they have the right to return to work….well would you if it meant that you could get made redundant “for the best interests of the employer”…not know if you would earn enough that week to cover your bills as your pay can be adjusted at any time? How would you feel if your workers rights were taken away from you?

        I love that you can all be so judgemental, and by all means go ahead and be, but do it when you actually know what your talking about. Your replys sound stupid and ignorant, go get yourself educated in the ACTUAL FACTS of the situation. Then be my guest and judge away. Its disgusts me that people can be so blisfully ignorant…..