The Talleys dispute

May 13th, 2012 at 10:29 am by David Farrar

Jon Morgan at Stuff has a long feature on the and dispute. One extract:

As Talley’s influence increased so did anti-union activity, according to Meatworkers organiser Roger Middlemass. “It was like a cold front arriving.”

He accuses Affco of a string of anti-union acts, including encouraging workers not to sign with the union and of banning the union from posting notices, including its financial statements, in plants.

“It is Dickensian,” he says. “This is not even last century stuff, it’s the century before.”

One example, he says, is the inclusion in the disputed contract of a clause that talks of making union members redundant on the grounds of irreconcilable differences between them and the employer, or them and other workers, or when “the interests of the employer would be best served by terminating the union member’s employment, not withstanding that the union member has not been guilty of any conduct or omission that would justify dismissal on the grounds of misconduct or poor performance”.

“It means that the employer can just say it’s in my interest that you don’t work for me any more. And you can’t take it to court because you’ve not been dismissed, you’ve been made redundant,” Middlemass says. “The word draconian isn’t strong enough to describe this.”

Affco operations manager Rowan Ogg says this clause is “reasonably standard” and that he has it in his employment contract.

Assuming it has been correctly reported, then I have to say the union has a very reasonable case here.  An irreconciliable differences clause is not reasonably standard. The only place I knew which has them is Parliament, because it is impossible for an MPs office to function if the MP doesn’t have total trust in their staffer/s. But this clause probably wouldn’t even stand up in court, which is why there is always a payout of three or more months with it, if triggered. And often, another job found for the staffer with another MP.

That clause basically does ask meat workers to surrender their employment rights, and allow AFFCO to fire them for no substantive reason. Now I’m in favour of trial periods where you can do that as it is always a risk how a new employee works out. But I would not sign a contract like that if I worked at AFFCO.

If reported correctly, the clause also seems confused. Positions are made redundant, not people. You can not have a clause saying you are made redundant if we decide we do not like you.

I am no fan of the tactics of the Meatworkers Union. But that does not mean that they are wrong in refusing to sign the proposed contract. I would not sign a contract like that if I was a meat worker.

 

Tags: , , ,

40 Responses to “The Talleys dispute”

  1. Viking2 (11,547 comments) says:

    Sorry, but here is the test from the quote.

    making union members redundant on the grounds of irreconcilable differences between them and the employer, or them and other workers,

    don’t cry for Middlemass. He has caused more people pain in his life at the Meat Workers than you could everknow or beleive.
    Ask people who used to work at plants in places like Palmerston North, Patea,
    Like his Mate Kelly its not about workers at all. They are destructive communists still.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Yes, assuming it’s been reported correctly I’d agree. But remember, it’s the left-leaning media reporting what a union official has stated about an employer… so possibly a few truth filters at work

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. peteremcc (344 comments) says:

    Why would it be impossible for an MPs office to not function if they don’t trust their employees, but it not be impossible for any other office to function if they don’t trust their employees?

    [DPF: A meat works is not comparable. You have dozens of employees doing the same identical job. That is different to an MPs office where they have just one staff member]

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,914 comments) says:

    Come now, David. Don’t you know a ‘negotiating point’ when you see one?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. KH (695 comments) says:

    Petermcc @ 10.44 says it exactly right.
    The belief that MPs are special is quite quite incorrect. Of course it is a requirement that trust etc exists. But MPs are not special in this respect. It’s a problem that many of our laws and regulations are drafted by people ‘inside the beltway’ who do not understand the realities of ordinary New Zealanders. Or just how hard it is sometimes.
    I have a core group of employees, some of whom I don’t have contact with for days at a time, and who represent the company in quite sensitive ways. But I don’t think it any different to somebody employing a delivery worker, or in jobs the Wellington people would think unsophisticated.
    Of course the best management of this issue is to develop that trust. It works quite well, and I do have an operation running smoothly.
    I know however that any year, despite our best efforts, that it could all go wrong and become a nightmare.
    In addition, we also don’t have unlimited resources to pay attention to this, we have other things we must also focus on. My impression is that the Wellington bureaucracy does not have to balance that resource issue. And they still do so badly.

    but if it doesn’t then it would be a nightmare.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    Pretty typical of the Talley family, they are horrible NZers end of story.

    Not that the unions ever do their job properly, too busy chasing Warner brothers and personal notoriety you see, bigger, sexier fish to fry than silly old meat choppers.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Ross12 (1,453 comments) says:

    Accuracy — all I would say is Jon Morgan is one of the few good , real journalists left in the print media. He at least “gets out there” to get his material and doesn’t rely on press releases. I also do not think he has any agenda either way. ( No , I don’t know him personally but I read his columns)
    Middlemiss is a dinosaur and is still fighting for 1970’s style claims. It’s time he let someone else have a go.In what is “quoted” I think it probably is Middlemiss’s interpretation which wrong –after all I assume it is legally allowed as he would have had through the courts by now if it wasn’t.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Spiritfree (79 comments) says:

    Why isn’t there some statutory mechanism such that in situations like this, the two warring parties are taken to *public* arbitration? I’m no fan of the really pretty small town of Moerewa or even of eating red meat, but the fact remains that the town is being destroyed by this dispute. And that’s just one of the places affected.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    Why isn’t there some statutory mechanism such that in situations like this, the two warring parties are taken to *public* arbitration?

    There used to be one. It was deemed inconvenient for employers wanting to de-unionise their workplaces and scrapped.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Ross12 (1,453 comments) says:

    Shunda b.

    “Pretty typical of the Talley family, they are horrible NZers end of story.”

    I trust you can substantiate this comment !! I’m sure most of the thousands of people they employ don’t agree.

    Spiritfree –as I understand it all of the meat plants are still operating even if it is only on one shift , so all of Moerewa is not affected.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Viking2 (11,547 comments) says:

    Why do unions and the state see the need to interfere in a relationship between a company and its staff?
    Time we grew up.
    These dinasours of the left should just go away and quietly bury themselves. No one wants to pay them any money any more.

    Shaunda. Clealry you know nothing of the Talley’s and their support of NZ. Only Kiwi company to employ Kiwi’s and Maori on their modern fishing boats. Unlike the Maori and Sandfords (Who’s owner is a Leader of the NZ National Party) Ask Whale about that if you don’t think I’m right.
    Ask Nick Smith about them (and I don’t have a lot of time for Smith and his behavoir but he made the point reported yesterday on Kiwiblog.)

    If it wasn’t for the Talley family then all our fish would be caught and processed by others. We would have few meat processing plants left and they would be run by the Disaster that is and has been Silver Fern Farms.
    We would probably not have any vegetaqble processors left in NZ.

    You need a reality check from your comfortable arm chair. You don’t like them. I guess their companies subsidise via taxes your salary and standard of living.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. scanner (340 comments) says:

    Still waiting on Helen Kelly to come clean on her remuneration package, is she one of the greedy few that earn a six figure package funded from the “sweat” of her members, or is this another one of these funny little “off balance sheet” transactions that seem to be a favorite of the union movement.
    Remember the Talley group is a NZ owned company, employing Kiwis, unlike some of the other fishing companies namely the one owned by our indigenous people

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Nookin (3,453 comments) says:

    An “irreconcilable differences” clause at work. Headnote is difficult to read but full decision is linked in pdf format

    http://dol.govt.nz/workplace/determinations/FullSummary.aspx?ID=17295670

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. burt (8,301 comments) says:

    I really feel for the union, it’s really frustrating that when you don’t own something you can’t control it.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    If it wasn’t for the Talley family then all our fish would be caught and processed by others.

    Gosh, well that certainly is a compelling argument for stripping their workforce of its basic rights! Er, hang on, no it isn’t, it’s an irrelevant piece of blather.

    Still waiting on Helen Kelly to come clean on her remuneration package…

    Speaking of irrelevant blather…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. Viking2 (11,547 comments) says:

    Have you ever done a hard days work psycho or owned any enterprise other than a free blog. Piss of till you have any understanding of what the adults talk about.
    Children should be seen and not heard.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    Relevance really is a problem for you, isn’t it?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. Keeping Stock (10,404 comments) says:

    As Manolo noted in the first comment here, Roger Middlemass is no saint. He has kept his cushy union job bashing the bosses for years, whilst the jobs of his members have evaporated. I have no confidence in any tale he tells.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    Dynasties of employers V dynasties of union apparatchiks.

    NZ on air could fund a TV series.

    Call it “Dynasty” or something perhaps.

    Helen could go for editing rights, choice of cast and a cut IN the profits! :)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. mikenmild (11,627 comments) says:

    It’s funny to see a few people come out in support of Talleys because they are New Zealanders.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Ross12 (1,453 comments) says:

    Milkenmild — are you suggesting they are not New Zealanders ???

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home

    Work all night on standard rates
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home
    Stack lamb chops till the mornin’ come
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home

    Come, Mister Talley man, I want an increase
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home
    Come, Mister Talley man I will even say please
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home

    A beautiful bunch a’ T-bone steaks
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home
    Hide the deadly band saw blade
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home

    It’s slice chop slice chop give the hide a PUNCH!
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home
    It’s well past midnight when I get my LUNCH!
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home

    Come, Mister Talley man, gives us all a bonus
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home
    Hey Mister Talley man just dont think you own us
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home

    Day-o, day-ay-ay-o
    Daylight come and me wan’ go home

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    As Manolo noted in the first comment here, Roger Middlemass is no saint. He has kept his cushy union job bashing the bosses for years, whilst the jobs of his members have evaporated. I have no confidence in any tale he tells.

    Yeah, that bloody Roger Middlemass – if only he’d just let the bosses get on with it instead of constantly thwarting their attempts to improve workers’ pay and conditions, all those workers would still have jobs.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Viking2 (11,547 comments) says:

    Not so you uninformed clown. Ask the meatworkers who used to work at Patea. He destroyed with their help their jobs along with many others. But you wouldn’t even bother to find out, just come along here and join the useless band of Kelly, Middlemass, McCarten,and that dumb arse at the wharfes in Auckland.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. Spiritfree (79 comments) says:

    Ross12 : Spiritfree –as I understand it all of the meat plants are still operating even if it is only on one shift , so all of Moerewa is not affected.

    Think about it for a moment. How big is Moerewa? There is one major employer there – without the Semi-domesticated-animals-that-are-killed-for-humans-to-eat Processing Plant, the town is changed forever. With a large number of the local people no longer working, *everyone* is affected.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    He destroyed with their help their jobs along with many others.

    Yes, it’s such a pity the poor employers had no option but to stand about wringing their hands while the merciless union destroyed jobs throughout the meat industry, but there’s only so much employers can do to protect workers from those working against their interests.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. mikenmild (11,627 comments) says:

    If we didn’t have such union-inspired interference in things like minimum wages and safety regulations, I’m sure those plants would still be operating today.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. Viking2 (11,547 comments) says:

    Like I said psycho, go find out for yourself. And try Whakatu as well and Imlay in Wanganui. All destroyed by bad attitudes and some apparent belief that the world owes us a living and we can charge the customers all we want to pay slackarses.

    As I said try having your own business then come back and tell us how it all went.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. Psycho Milt (2,419 comments) says:

    Try building a union then come back and tell us how it all went.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. mikenmild (11,627 comments) says:

    Like I said, I’m sure those antique meatworks would still be operating today if it weren’t for those pesky unions asking for stuff.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. Ed Snack (1,925 comments) says:

    Nothing like seeing the “usual suspects” rambling on about meat works without having the slightest clue; except “workers good, management bad”. Just for the record, most the major changes have been driven by influences from outside NZ, primarily through compliance requirements from the US, Japan, and especially Europe. So, no Mikenmild, those “antique meatworks” would not be able to operate, and the unions have had f-all to do with any of it.

    The whole industry has changed significantly, and continues to change. Almost all of the changes are driven by overseas demand and the only way to be able to cope is to be able to be flexible and to be able to make the necessary changes. Some of the local union branches recognize this, and at least in part attempt to work with the various meat processing companies to allow at least some of the necessary changes to occur. Others don’t, and it’s largely down to the union leader and his (or her, though that’s uncommon in the meat unions) attitudes.

    The main struggle (as I understand it) at Talley’s is that they badly need to get their labour costs down to a reasonable level, both in manning levels and how the processing is structured and managed. The unions at AFFCO have over the years entrenched a number of lucrative (for their members) local “rules”, and the dispute is really around streamlining processing, especially as technology is introduced and new carcass breakdowns are necessary. The Union has so far refused to budge. That means that certain of the plants are essentially uneconomic, and the choices are difficult. Affco can’t continue to process at a loss (or close to) for ever, unlike the co-ops they can’t stiff the farmers in a bad year (or 2 or 3). What they want is to basically be able to make changes to manning levels and the points at which extra payments are triggered. The alternatives, ultimately, close the plants and get out, or close the plants and build elsewhere with new staff and new agreements.

    And there’s bugger all money in the business too, so there’s not a lot of margin to play with. Right now prices are dropping overseas and demand is weaker. As most of the prime products go to Europe, the current weakness in the Euro area is a real concern in the industry. Volumes too are down with fewer stock available, so there’s less opportunity to recover fixed costs through marginal pricing.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. Nostalgia-NZ (5,270 comments) says:

    Ed Shack

    So if a firm ‘badly need’ to get their costs down the best thing is lock out their workers?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. big bruv (14,122 comments) says:

    All power to the Talley’s. I urge all of you to go out of your way to purchase something from the Talley’s group this week, that way those of us who are against the unions can show our support.

    Crush the union scum.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    The Talleys are business scum.

    Just research their history in the employment courts.

    They personify the worst in employer behavior.

    They should rename their enterprises:

    Business Scum.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. Ed Snack (1,925 comments) says:

    Nostalgia-NZ, not as a first stage, but ultimately, if negotiations are not getting anywhere maybe it’s better than the alternatives of closing down before going broke or closing down after going broke. Would you recommend just caving in then ?

    Ultimately, in my opinion, the only way forward is flexibility on both sides to reach a position where the works can make enough profit to be worth running. Why else is it there ? There is still significant over capacity in the industry and if AFFCO closed down the remaining meat companies would be quite capable of handling the kill numbers and would be happy to see the No 3 (I think it is 3, after Silver fern and Alliance and before ANZCO) processor get out and reduce competition that little bit.

    The meat industry is a fairly reactionary place, on both sides usually, but enough of them can see which way the wind is blowing to want to work together enough to make sure that an industry does survive. A bloody minded union boss can perhaps keep “his” union members employed at better rates for a time, but ultimately it’s a destructive position.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. Nostalgia-NZ (5,270 comments) says:

    A problem for Talley’s is that they’re not coming off from a big win on the Auckland waterfront they may have anticipated or sought to take advantage from. I won’t be surprised when there’s an embargo placed on shipping their goods. Tauranga will fill the gap for a while before that Port will attract more international attention.

    Soon we could see calls for boycott on Talley goods which will get some public support because people understand when an employer is being unreasonable. I could be mistaken but Talley’s didn’t offer a message of sympathy for the man that died yesterday working on one of their vessels.

    It’s all part of the dynamic of managing tough times without turning on one another, but rather working together.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. Nostalgia-NZ (5,270 comments) says:

    Ed Shack

    I have just seen you post at 10.07. I wouldn’t recommend ‘caving in’ from either side. I wouldn’t even recommend it as seeing it as a battle to be one or lost – rather as something to work towards solving in a complimentary way.

    When you say neither of them ‘can see which way the wind is blowing’ that could be part of the reason not to heighten ‘hostilities.’ Watching the Auckland wharf, or any other limbering hostility, one thing is clear afterwards is that the combatants have some respect for one another and a greater ability not to take or offer offence.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    New Zealand employers are generally decent. Why on earth do some folk feel the need to defend the Talleys, who are not? It’s the same with unions. It’s more or less a law of nature that there are going to be outliers in any reasonably large sample, and that means it’s loopy to defend all employers or all unions come what may.

    Why can’t people just accept that the Talleys are among the few employers at the “complete wankers” end of the spectrum?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. Mark (1,489 comments) says:

    scanner (334) Says:
    May 13th, 2012 at 11:52 am
    Still waiting on Helen Kelly to come clean on her remuneration package, is she one of the greedy few that earn a six figure package funded from the “sweat” of her members, or is this another one of these funny little “off balance sheet” transactions that seem to be a favorite of the union movement.
    Remember the Talley group is a NZ owned company, employing Kiwis, unlike some of the other fishing companies namely the one owned by our indigenous people

    Scanner are you saying that because talleys is NZ owned it can adopt unfair employment practice? If the report is correct and it is likely to be so it it the Talleys of the world who perpetuate the need for unions as they demonstrate that some employers can and will exploit their workforce when the opportunity presents itself. As an aside what does Helen Kelly’s income have to do with this item. Seems completely irrelevant to me.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  40. brokeaze95 (1 comment) says:

    I consider myself an affco talleys employee have been in the meat industry for 16 yrs up at 4.30am nearly every day monday to friday some times saturday work hard all day (freezers) and home at 5.30pm that has been my way of life for the last 16yrs and i loved it but now my employer (affco talleys) wants me to be flexible i can deal with that but what does that mean in their eyes flexible for me i know what it means because i started to do it (being flexible) example monday up 4.30am off to work arrive 5.15 yes i live about 45 minutes away from my place of work supervisor informs me then that he wants me to start at a later time (7.30am) some times there is work to do but not always so i have a 2.15 hours breakfast start work 7.30am finish at 4.10pm get payed 8hrs what about my 10 minutes oyeah ( being flexible ) most times my super is on to it and informs at the end of my shift now that chopping and changing of start and finishing times can vary every day not saying that it does but it has happened wouldnt you want to get payed the hours that you worked (8hrs 10 minutes ) to some that 10 minutes may not mean much but if that was to carry on through the week (50 minutes ) would you call that being flexible or IEA. and that is the same for mannings and tallies .Mannings to suit the tallies so what happens to the extra mannings if the tallie is short oyeah your told that day no work for you.Tallies go up but that does not mean that the mannings will, if mannings and tallies are set then workers will know where they stand as far as work is concerned.HELEN KELLY and the MEAT WORKERS UNION are working for the working class people so STAND UP AND FIGHT BACK.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote