AFFCO responds to unfair treatment claims

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Shortly after a judge ruled in their favour, workers from AFFCO’s Wairoa plant have said they will return to court, alleging that they have been bullied since returning to work after the hearing.

In a decision released on November 18, the Employment Court ruled that workers on collective contracts had been unlawfully locked out after refusing to sign individual agreements.

The workers in question were reportedly due to resume work this week.

Now, the Meat Workers Union (MWU) has said it is seeking unprecedented judicial intervention from the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Radio New Zealand reported that the union wanted a judge to set the terms and conditions of a collective agreement under a section of the Employment Relations Act, which the union claimed had never been used by AFFCO before.

Speaking to HRM, Rowan Ogg, AFFCO's general manager, addressed the MWU allegations that have been circulating since Wednesday.

“In respect of action being brought by the MWU, I can’t really say anything because that’s currently within the court system,” Ogg explained.

“What I can say is that of everybody who has been offered a position, the vast majority have taken them on positively – with the exception of a few people at the Wairoa plant.”

He also addressed allegations that workers had been forced into different shift patterns – which he said is “just not true”. 

“The majority of union members who have returned are on day shifts, although there were always a bunch who were on night shifts beforehand anyway,” Ogg told HRM.

“This is a standard situation within the industry.”

The MWU also alleged that the company was behaving “viciously” towards workers since the judge’s ruling.

According to Ogg, more than 70% of AFFCO employees are now on individual employment agreements, a proportion that isgrowing daily.

Graham Cooke, the MWU’s national secretary, claimed there had been a serious breach of good faith.

“I have never seen the likes of it and I have been involved in the meat industry since 1969,” he alleged.

“I have never seen such vicious retribution against the New Zealand Meat Workers Union, its members, whanau and communities.”
  • Mary-Ann on 4/12/2015 1:45:05 p.m.

    I guess its possible that the people at the top of the organisation dont realise how badly their site managers treat the staff but perhaps this could be investigated by them. It is very disappointing that a company owned by a person who gained a knighthood for philanthropy has made his employees go to court in the first place just to try to get a decent deal.

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