Published: 27/11/2011

What follows is the content of an e-mail from James Ritchie, National Secretary of the NZDWU to Hector Ponce, General Secretary of ATILRA and Oscar Marozzi, Assistant General Secretary of ATILRA following the meeting of the informal leadership group of the dairy division of the IUF in NZ, 16-18 November 2011. Due to a series of problems with Argentinean airspace, the ATILRA delegation was unable to attend the meeting.

” We were so sorry that you were unable to attend the meeting of the dairy division of IUF hosted by our union in New Zealand. We missed you as friends and we also missed the contribution and leadership your union provides the dairy division.

However we do understand that the circumstances were beyond your control and we had the best meeting possible without your presence.

We have had some research commissioned on major companies and countries of the dairy sector. This adds to our knowledge following the excellent research on the Latin American dairy industry that was compiled by Enildo Iglesias and presented at the Buenos Aires conference in March 2010. A post graduate student from the University of Auckland had worked on this research and presented it to the meeting. It took more than half a day and there were many questions. The research is on the IUF website in English and there have been abstracts summarising each section prepared in Spanish.

Affiliates from each country gave reports on their organising successes and strategies with particular reference to the major companies and also with emphasis on the ratio of permanent workers to contract, temporary or agency workers.

The main action steps from the meeting are to continue to map the major companies and ask affiliates to provide information about what plants are organised and what the union density is at each plant. We want to see where there are non union plants and see if we can use our combined strength to assist in organising these plants.

We also pledged to keep each other updated with news of the sector from a workers perspective and of any organising successes or employer attacks. We received a practical lesson in updating the IUF website Dairy sector for this purpose.

We were sorry that you were not present to give an account of the excellent work ATILRA is performing in working with the Argentinean Government and employers in developing a dairy sector plan for Argentina.

Burcu Ayan from the IUF is to provide a summary of meeting notes soon.

I have not forgotten your request to write an article for Nuestra Voz and I hope to find time to do so in the near future.

I hope we will meet again at the IUF congress in May 2012 and in the meantime I wish you and your union every success and a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

In solidarity,

Your friend and comrade

James Ritchie
National Secretary
New Zealand Dairy Workers Union Te Runanga Wai U