Meat Workers union says Affco complaint relates to statements from global union body

“Probably tenth time" Affco and affiliates have complained to ERA.

The New Zealand Meat Workers Union says a complaint to the Employment Relations Authority from Affco New Zealand, the Talleys Group-controlled meat processor, is based on statements from an international union body over which it has no control.

Graham Cooke, the union's national secretary, confirmed that Affco last week filed a "breach of good faith proceedings by NZMWU" that related to two postings on the website of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) . One is titled "Workplace slaughter and rights abuses continue at Talleys/Affco" and another is headed "Work at rights-buster Talleys/Affco more dangerous than ever."

A spokesman for Affco wasn't immediately available but Radio NZ reported last week the company said the union breached its good faith obligations as part of employment contract negotiations by widely circulating false and unbalanced content. The meat processor and the union have been in a long-running dispute over labour contracts at company plants. The Employment Court ruled in November that Affco unlawfully locked out meat workers when collective bargaining talks were still under way, and last month the company sought leave to challenge the ruling in the Court of Appeal.

Cooke said it was "probably about the 10th time" that Affco and its affiliated companies had filed a complaint with the ERA.

"Up until now, these proceedings have gone to mediation, where Affco/South Pacific Meats/Land Meat NZ have looked rather foolish and generally reviewed their position afterward and the matter hasn't gone any further," he said. "These companies linked to Talley's Group have a rather one-eyed view of who is wronging who. Talley's are very good at playing the victim."

He said his union was "affiliated to the IUF. However, we have no control of what they put on their website."