Talley’s-AFFCO have told their 750 odd unionised meat workers in its plants in Moerewa, Manawatu, Imlay, Horotiu and Wairoa that they will be indefinitely locked out from Wednesday, unless they agree to significant casualisation of their jobs.
We’re not talking highly paid or privileged workers here; meat workers are already seasonal workers, who have to fill the gap with other bits and pieces of work in between seasons. Just visit any small town where the meat works is a major employer and driver of the local economy – and you will know what I’m talking about. It’s grim.
A long term lockout saw 100 ANZCO CMP workers forced to take cuts to pay and conditions last year, and Mr Talley isn’t slow to learn.
But I reckon it’s about more than that.
The climate is now ripe for employers who can’t accept the role of unions in their workplaces to try to smash them. The National Government has promised to further weaken workers’ collective bargaining rights, and any pretense at its support for decent work is rapidly disappearing. The lip service we saw paid to the role of unions in engagement and economic change in the first term of the National Government is now on the back burner.
Union or non-union, this isn’t the Kiwi way.