Af­fco work­ers to get lock­out pay­ment

Three-year in­dus­trial row goes against com­pany

Hawke's Bay Today - - Local News -

The Court of Ap­peal has ruled strik­ing Af­fco work­ers un­law­fully locked out three years ago should be paid for lost wages.

But they shouldn’t ex­pect to see it turn into money for a fes­tive sea­son spend-up, ac­cord­ing to New Zealand Meat Work­ers Union na­tional sec­re­tary Gra­ham Cooke.

He ex­pected com­pany owner Tal­leys to take all four weeks it has from the time of Thurs­day’s judg­ment de­liv­ery be­fore de­cid­ing whether it will ac­cept the de­ci­sion or go an­other round and take the mat­ter to the Supreme Court.

The Em­ploy­ment Court ruled three years ago the lock­out of Af­fco staff was un­law­ful.

Work­ers, who were with­out pay for up to five months, should be paid lost wages un­der the Wages Pro­tec­tion Act, the Court of three judges de­cided in turn­ing down the com­pany’s ap­peal.

“It will bring some cheer to those work­ers if they can look for­ward to a pay­ment early in the new year,” Cooke said.

The com­bined pay­out was es­ti­mated at close to $2 mil­lion, in­clud­ing in­ter­est, Cook be­lieved.

In Wairoa, union site pres­i­dent and plant em­ployee Therese Turipa said work­ers had been through a lot.

“Through five months, our fam­i­lies were with­out wages and it was only with the sup­port of the com­mu­nity, our union and the wider union move­ment we man­aged to get through.

“But it left scars that con­tinue to this day,” she said. “We’ve lost mem­bers due to hard­ship and even death. Even worse, Af­fco has lost skilled and ded­i­cated work­ers who have had no choice but to move to other places to find work.”

Shed sec­re­tary and beef slaugh­ter­man Pete Amato said work­ers “keep hop­ing Af­fco will do the right thing and promptly pay Wairoa union mem­bers for the ter­ri­ble loss they in­curred by stand­ing up to the Com­pany in 2015”.

“We’ve been through court case af­ter court case and, in ev­ery in­stance, Af­fco was found to have un­law­fully locked us out,” he said.

“We all just want to move on. Our small com­mu­nity and our whanau have suf­fered and we need to be­gin the re­build­ing. We hope that Af­fco will ac­cept this de­ci­sion so we can be­gin to put the past be­hind us.”


Protest­ing on Wairoa bridge are Af­fco Tal­ley's Wairoa work­ers Peter Amato, a Wairoa Union del­e­gate, and Phil Reweti, of Whanganui.

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