Talley’s owned South Pacific Meats (SPM) has been ordered by the Employment Relations Authority to pay a worker more than $35,000 after she was subjected to unjustified action and unjustified dismissal for distributing a Meat Workers Union newsletter at the company’s Awarua plant.
Talley’s SPM have also been ordered pay a second worker $3700 who pinned the newsletter to the noticeboard. This includes a penalty for breach of good faith and removal of the warning he was given.
“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,” says 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.
“Katrina Murray is a highly skilled worker, always open and honest, who was good enough to be employed in Norway meat works during the New Zealand off-season.
"She was looking after her mum, who was undergoing chemotherapy when the company wrongly claimed they could not contact her to return to work after the off-season.
“The Employment Authority has found this was unjustified dismissal, along with several other findings.
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.
“This is a sorry tale of a company hell-bent on denying their workers any say at work, whether it be at SPM or their North Island AFFCO plants.
“No one should have to go through what these two workers went through to exercise their lawful rights to belong to a union.
“It’s great these two workers have seen some justice and it will give other workers in Talley’s firms who want to join the union more confidence that their rights are protected by NZ laws,” Mr Carran says.