'They’ve tried to break our spirit financially,' says Talleys worker

Wairoa meat workers returned to back work this week after a 168-day lockout. Despite two Employment Court rulings in the last three months in favour of the Meat Workers Union, workers say the company still not complying with the judge’s ruling.

The latest Employment Court ruling has meant it's the first week back at work following a lengthy lock-out period.

Union member Justin Kaimoana says, “The judge ruled that you go back on the terms and conditions you were on prior to getting laid off slash locked out and that was your shift you were on with your seniority.”

 “Seasonal work can be quite unpredictable but seniority ensures that from season to season you have ongoing employment without it nothing is guaranteed,” says Melissa Kaimoana.

But returning to work hasn't meant the end of the issue, Kaimoana says the company is still not following the Employment Court ruling set out by Judge Bruce Corkill last month.

“As we found out on Monday when we went back to work, the company are still trying to undermine the Union. I think to them it's just a big game to them but to us, this is our livelihood that place, that freezing works,” says Justin Kaimoana.

The issue began when Union members refused to accept the new Individual Employment Agreements imposed on them, an agreement which affected their seniority, offered lower pay and gave them poor working conditions.

Justin Kaimoana says, “The money wasn't the issue for us even though everyone's gotta survive you gotta have the money to survive, the bigger issue was our rights.”

Like this family, many in Wairoa stood up and fought to maintain their collective rights, even if it meant little or no money coming into the home.

Justin Kaimoana says, “It's broken families, they tried break our spirit financially domestically I don't think these fallas have a conscious.”

“Talleys isn't going to drive me out of my home they can't drive me out of my home and force me to raise my children away from their whānau and elder grandmother it's just wrong!” says Melissa Kaimoana.

The fight continues for the 32 workers still locked-out. Today Affco Talleys says that all returning workers are operating under the expired collective agreement and we are awaiting their response for an on-camera interview.