Employer fined $38K for reprimanding union workers

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A major Kiwi organization has been hit with a five-figure fine after the Employment Relations Authority ruled it had unfairly reprimanded workers for distributing union material.

Talley’s-owned South Pacific Meats was ordered to pay two workers a total of $38,700 after they were reprimanded for handing out a Meat Workers Union newsletter.

Employee Katrina Murray will be paid more than $35,000 after the ERA agreed she subjected to unjustified action and unjustified dismissal for sharing a union newsletter around the Awarua plant.

Co-worker Cliff Kruskopk was awarded $3,700 after he was given an formal warning for pinning a newsletter to a noticeboard.

“Katrina Murray was one of the few workers to come out as a union member at the Awarua plant in Invercargill and the company tried to punish her for it,” claims Daryl Carran, president of the Otago Southland Branch of the Meat Workers Union.

“The second worker, Cliff Kruskopk innocently thought that other workers might be interested in the union news and the company tried to punish him as well,” he added.

Union membership has been strongly resisted by Talley’s at Awarua and SPM’s other plant in Malvern, Christchurch. Recently the Employment Authority fined the company $144,000 for breaches of union access requirements to these sites.

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