The union claimed for pay owed by the company after employees were not provided with paid rest breaks that had been agreed upon in employment contracts.
According to NZME, it was also claimed that the company’s failure to pay for tea breaks meant that money was also owed for a failure to pay overtime correctly.
Lean Meats denied the union’s claims, arguing that the money it owed to employees had already been paid. The company claimed that the money had been “specifically incorporated” into the hourly rate, and that the situation had arisen as a consequence of a contractual mistake.
The Employment Relations Authority
(ERA) found that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the amount owed had been included in the hourly pay – and that there was not enough proof that the cause of the debt was a contractual mistake.
The ERA ruled in the union’s favour, ordering Lean Meats to pay for the employees’ meal breaks and overtime.
“The amount owing to each employee will differ. The parties are to try and resolve the issue between themselves,” the authority reportedly said. “Should the parties be unable to conclude an agreement leave is reserved for them to return to the authority for further directions.”
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In more tea break related controversy, Kiwi company Lean Meats has been ordered to pay its workers for tea breaks and overtime after the Meatworkers Union took legal action.