In the midst of all the legal action last year between the NZMWU and AFFCO/Talleys, while some workers went back to work, some workers got shut out of going back to work.
The November 2015 Court decision found that union members had been unlawfully locked out when AFFCO tried to impose non union agreements after the seasonal lay off. Most of those workers returned to work on the expired union agreement. A further court decision in February found that the company’s attempts to reinstate the entire union membership at Wairoa on a night shift was also unlawful.
It’s not been smooth sailing, but at least these workers are back at work, despite on-going differences about entitlements and rights for union members.
But some have been left behind.
There’s the 32 at Wairoa. These workers joined our union after the collective agreement expired so were excluded from the court decisions. Despite these workers making it clear they are available for work, Talleys seems to prefer to employ anyone but them. It's hard going for these workers and their whanau. They did the right thing : they stood with fellow workers, but they are being punished.
Then there’s Johnny.
Johnny is another Wairoa AFFCO meat worker who is still not back at work. The company claims he resigned ; our union disagrees, but AFFCO Talleys are trying to tie up the question of Johnny’s return to work with their appeal of the November and February Court decisions.
That just seems mean. Meanwhile the company employs inexperienced workers, sometimes straight out of school, to do their jobs. It’s not the fault of new workers. They need a job in small town Wairoa.
But meanwhile, so does Johnny. The question is why is he being prevented from returning to the job he's done for years? He's done nothing wrong, he works hard.
The good guys would give a little. Take Johnny back and give the 32 a break.