Monday, September 21, 2009

[olympiaworkers] New Zealand Dairy Workers Locked Out Sep 20 2009

New Zealand company Open Country Cheese, part-owned by Talleys and tied to
various National Party MPs via New Zealand's Dairy Investment Fund and
Kaimai, is fighting dirty in an attempt to break workers seeking a
collective agreement with basic redundancy and transfer of undertakings

From Aotearoa Indymedia:

"There is no wage increase on the table. Workers are seeking a collective
agreement which protects them from being made temporary or casual at any
time. They want a say on how their rosters and hours of work can be
changed so their family lives are not disrupted without notice and
consultation. They want temp workers to be paid the same rate for the job
after 3 months. They want temp workers to be made permanent after 11
months service. They want redundancy compensation if made redundant and
they want to be paid for a meal break if they can't leave the plant. –
Most of all they want to be treated as human beings- not a commodity to be
tossed aside when no longer required. They want decent jobs."

Dairy Workers Union National Secretary James Ritchie has stated:

"Our members at Open Country Cheese were escorted off the site today
(Wednesday) 5 hours before the strike was to begin. The Company has re-
registered as a different company and is now the company that operates
plants at Invercargill and Whanganui. It is Talleys by any other name.
There are various legal permutations of this and we are considering our
response. Strikebreakers have been transported from Invercargill and

And from Scoop:

"Talleys-owned Open Country Cheese's insistence on running their plant
without appropriate trained environmental staff is now causing serious
environmental damage," said James Ritchie, National Secretary of the Dairy
Workers Union.

36 workers are in their third day of strike action at Open Country
Cheese's Waharoa plant in Waikato, after the company has refused to
negotiate a collective agreement and protect workers' job security.
Untrained staff are now operating the plant.

Today the environmental ponds overflowed with deactivated sludge and
poured into the river. The sludge tanks need to be managed by trained
staff and is a critical part of the manufacturing process.

Nomally the sludge is collected by trucks and spread on farms – but we
found out this morning that it had been poured directly into the Waitoa

This dispute is being viewed as a major attack on the right to join a
union and collectively bargain. The employer is openly organising
strikebreakers and encouraging farmers to get involved in the dispute.
This dispute has all the hallmarks of a major conflict.

There is a picket running from 5.30am to 6pm each day at (outside the Open
Country Cheese plant at Waharoa just north of Matamata on the main
Auckland to Rotorua/Tauranga highway). The Dairy Workers Union will be
collecting food and money in support.

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