The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by Affco New Zealand Ltd against a decision of the Employment Court. The Employment Court had held that Affco had unlawfully locked out members of the Meat Workers Union. The Court of Appeal upheld that conclusion.
The Meat Workers Union (MWU) has hailed the judgment as a major step forward in advancing and protecting the collective bargaining rights for all meat workers.
The Court of Appeal based its decision on the sound foundation of human rights.
It plainly stated that the company’s purpose was to fragment the future bargaining strength of the workers by isolating individual workers. It took advantage of the inherent inequality of its relationship with the seasonal workers who were members of its captive workforce and to whom it owed existing duties to offer re-employment.
The Court of Appeal referred directly to the core purposes of the Employment Relations Act 2000 – to promote good faith; to address the inherent inequality of power in employment relationships; and to promote collective bargaining.
This is a major advance in human rights for meat workers – and a significant step forward for collective bargaining rights generally.
No matter how AFFCO try to spin it, another court has clearly found their conduct unacceptable. MWU will now be pushing for appropriate remedies for the grief that AFFCO Talleys union members have endured over the past year.