Vets Strike Review - Guest editorial by Ian Boag Monday, Feb 26, 2001
Hello Farmnet Readers
The Veterinarians agreement to go back to work is a pretty reasonable outcome really.
Full marks to the people who refused to bow to blackmail. We won. The vets lost.
The backdated part of the 4% they have settled for will more or less pay them for their week off on
strike.For the rest of the industry - and the country - the benefits of standing firm are pretty
clear. The meat companies now admit that the strike has not cost them anything.
Although meatworkers have supposedly "lost" $15 million in wages it's hard to see how that can be. Stock
not killed last week will now be killed a little later. The workers will be paid to do the job
at the time. Some farmers have the same problem. Workers and farmers will both cope OK. The need
to shift a bit of stock backwards and forwards probably made the whole thing positive for the transport
industry. All in all, a top result for the companies, the farmers, and the country.
Full marks to Jim Sutton and Helen Clark too, for clearly stating their opinion about the vets "preposterous"
(quote from the PM) demands. It's pretty clear that the vets won't be a bother again - the
review to be held in a year's time is just a face-saving move to let the strikers slink off into
The result should come as no surprise. Professional people are generally uncomfortable being involved
in stand over union tactics. The NUPE hotheads who led the vets into this debacle will have a harder
job next time round. We can expect that reason will prevail and costs will be negotiated at a
level that safeguards the future of farming and the meat industry in New Zealand.
The prospect of having their names published obviously helped the strikers come to the right decision
as well - firm and resolute opposition on all fronts is the only way to deal with this sort of action.
The vets were the only losers from last week and they will think long and hard before they try to disrupt
this vital industry again.