Just over a week ago, Kevin Raymond, who has worked at AFFCO Feilding since 1973, received some devastating news.
The company told him he was not wanted for the new season and would have no work to sustain himself and his family because he's tried to do the right thing by his family in birth and death.
Kevin is accused of "absenteeism" last season. He took a week off when his daughter Violet was born, and then three days when his brother died.
He's not the only one affected at Feilding. Another worker broke his foot while working last season and that is deemed as "absenteeism" because its a non work accident. This guy had years of dedicated service and came to the plant in a moon boot to help with the barbecue when the plant celebrated their 100 years of service.
There are others as well, and not only at Feilding Manawatu. At Rangiuru, there are long serving members who have not been re-engaged, with newer workers employed instead.
There's a long held system of seniority in the meat industry, including AFFCO. Those with the longest service get priority when it comes to re-engagement after the season. In AFFCO's case the company can take into account work performance, and they have turned this into a judgement on attendance. This is despite there being very clear provisions in the expired collective agreement that enables company bosses to follow a disciplinary process where absenteeism is becoming a problem.
Has Kevin ever had a warning for absenteeism? Or even a disciplinary discussion? No.
There's something going on in AFFCO Talleys. Why are union members are being denied work in the new season because they had legitimate sick leave, bereavement leave or non work ACC?
In this day and age, surely we accept that workers will sometimes be sick, will have bereavements, and in some cases, get hurt outside of work? Sometimes there will be family emergencies that have to be attended to.
Meanwhile, there is a picket going on at Feilding Manawatu. There will be other actions, but this goes to the heart of modern workplaces. Family friendly policies and laws have been around for a while now. Some companies get awards for them.
But AFFCO Talleys has a long way to go.
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