Affco’s meat workers win legal fight

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Contract refusals sparked months of protracted talks culminating in a legal fight
Contract refusals sparked months of protracted talks culminating in a legal fight

Related tags Meat processing plant Beef Lamb Poultry

An employment court has ruled 200 workers from the New Zealand meat company Affco should be returned to their day shifts, after being locked out of the plant for refusing to work at night.

In a three-day court ruling that concluded on 12 February, Judge Corkill said workers had been illegally locked out of the meat processing plant in the day. Affco also breached section 32 of the Employment Relations Act (2000) by not acting in good faith towards its employees, he ruled.

The New Zealand Meat Workers Trade Union hailed the court’s decision and said it had finally delivered “justice​” to the 200 employees whose jobs were under threat.

Fight for your rights

This decision is a strong one and has given heart to Wairoa Meat Workers Union members who have bravely stood up for their rights,​” said Darien Fenton, the Meat Workers Trade Union national organising director.

Affco has until Tuesday 23 February to comply with the court’s ruling and re-employ the meat workers. If it fails, a compliance order will be logged against the company.

Remuneration for the employees, who were locked out of their daytime shifts since November, is also being considered by Judge Corkill, but no decision has been made on this yet.

Appeal mystery

In November 2015, the court ruled that Affco’s lock-out of employees who had refused to sign a contract for working night shifts was illegal.

Some workers at the Wairoa-based plant did sign the new contracts, but other employees with more senior roles at the meat processing plant refused to sign. This sparked several months of protracted and ultimately unsuccessful negations with Affco and the case was taken to the New Zealand’s employment court.

Affco, a Tally’s subsidiary, is one of New Zealand’s largest meat processing companies, with nine plants that specialise in beef, veal, lamb, poultry, seafood and dairy.

The company has not confirmed if it will appeal the court’s ruling.

Related topics Meat

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