A decision from the Employment Relations Authority shows it pays to be vigilant about contracting out of cleaners in the Meat Industry. While many cleaners are directly employed, some meat employers have contracted out their work and in doing so, ignored their rights.
Silver Fern Farms in Dargaville contracted out its cleaners to ISS, a multi national cleaning company, and then re-contracted out to a company called Biogiene. In the process, the cleaners lost many of their previous union collective agreement provisions, which the Employment Relations Authority has now determined was a breach of their rights to be transferred on the same terms and conditions under Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act.
Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act was a provision brought in by the Labour Government and came after a campaign from union cleaners and other contract workers who were sick and tired of losing their pay and conditions every time their employer decided their work should be contracted out.
In the Meat Industry, cleaning forms the basis of our reputation as a quality food providing company in NZ.
If there are no cleaning standards that can be monitored, if cleaners are put on non union conditions, it is not only unfair on the cleaners, but risks our international reputation and damages the industry.
Biogiene didn't do their homework and the Employment Relations Authority has said they were wrong. This means the workers will be entitled to :
- A six hour daily minimum, instead of the 5.5 hours being paid
- Payment for overtime on Saturdays
- Long Service Leave
- An extra weeks holiday.
This decision is a warning for all Meat Industry employers and contractors who think that by contracting out the work of cleaners they can save money by cutting workers' pay and conditions.