Union Kept me from Losing Family Home

I WOULD like to respond to an article which appeared in The Northern Daily Leader last week titled “Warnings of ‘ghost towns’”.

I am a former long-term employee of the Teys/Cargill joint venture.

I find the comments of Teys’ corporate affairs manager Tom Maguire in relation to the Meat Workers Union quite offensive.

I feel the need to give Mr Maguire a history lesson.

The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union has never interfered or impeded the operations of the Teys/Cargill joint venture in Tamworth.

The union has been denied the opportunity to speak to workers directly at Cargill for the past 15 years.

It was not until January, 2014, that the union gained access to the employees’ meal room to speak directly to employees.

Previously, the union was relegated to the training room, where employees had to walk to this room and speak to an official of the union in their own time.

I personally did not get an opportunity to speak to a union organiser until mid-2010.

Before that, I and my fellow workmates were denied the basic right to talk to a union organiser on site.

I find Tamworth Business Chamber president Tim Coates’ comments quite interesting.

What does he mean by “a simplification of IR laws would add value to our business and our community”?

I am a former boner and am well aware of the nature of the meat processing industry.

Currently it is quite profitable with low stock prices and ever-expanding markets.

Is Mr Coates denying myself and other workers the ability to make extra money via penalty rates if we work overtime on a Saturday, which takes us away from our families.

It was the union that assisted me when I lost my position at the company and I did not lose my position due to any misdemeanour.

I had an unrelated work accident and could not return to my position in time as deemed by an unfair individual workplace agreement.

On reflection, it would have been much fairer if I had input from the union.

It was the union who assisted me to access my long service leave, which kept me from losing my family home.

I would like to say to Mr Maguire and Mr Coates that the union is there to protect my rights and conditions. They are not there to obstruct or impede your operation.

Shane Macalpine