Meat Strike ResponsibilitiesThursday, Feb 15, 2001
In a world populated by professional negotiators and public relations people, guided by employment legislation,
and operating in an environment where arbitration is now accepted as the normal last resort
in the work place the ransom/blackmail tactics of the supposedly professional veterinarians
union is a contradiction.
What is the barrier to MAF and its employees arriving at a negotiated employment agreement like the
rest of the business community does? Why was this particular contract left unresolved for such a long
period, seemingly waiting for a time to milk the maximum from the system?
Much of the criticism for todays farce must lie with the MAF managers. They are the executives delegated
with the responsibility of providing the verification service. A monopoly service that is now
at fault because it cannot fulfill its contractual obligations to the meat exporting industry. Also
a service that is paid for by the industry not by the state.
In normal commerce a service provider who does not perform according their contract is terminated and
sued for the damages incurred. Why should MAF VA continue to retain the rights to provide this service
when they clearly have failed to organise and manage their responsibilities?
The insidious transfer of the costs of MAF's employment incompetence to meat producers is unacceptable.
The pompous protestations of the ministers that they cannot intervene, if not in resolving the
immediate losses caused by the strike proceeding, at least by putting in place a structure that ensures
that the parties have to solve their differences by negotiation rather than strike. After all
it seems the Employment Relations Act stops the intervention but also permits the strike action
The country would not tolerate a strike by immigration officers shutting down border crossings by travellers
for three weeks or more. So why should a similar action by the certifying authorities be
allowed to stop the flow of meat to overseas markets because of the discontent of a few salaried veterinarians
unwilling to use negotiation tools to come to an agreement on their employment terms.
This damned playing field is still not level