18 Jun 2015

Workers being forced to sign contracts - union

4:52 pm on 18 June 2015

Workers at a Talleys-owned site near Te Puke are being forced to sign individual contracts under duress, the Meatworkers Union says.

Beef carcasses

Photo: 123RF

The Employment Court yesterday knocked back the union's bid to seek an interim injunction.

The union said employees at AFFCO's Rangiuru site feared they would not be re-employed if they did not sign the contracts, which it said meant more hours for less pay.

With the case not due to return to court until next month, union campaign director Darien Fenton said workers had no choice but to sign the contracts.

"If they want to start work on Monday, the company has made it very clear that they require a signed individual agreement, so it really is they sign with a gun to their head," she said.

"We'll live to fight another day - both in the Employment [Relations] Authority and in the Employment Court."

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly has seen the contracts.

"Their privacy can be invaded when a company wants to look at their medical records, they can be dismissed for raising a matter with a health and safety inspector outside of work that brings the company into disrepute.

"The conditions of the individual agreement are the sort of conditions that you might see in a contract for serfs, not for loyal hardworking workers."

A spokesperson for AFFCO said the company welcomed the court's decision.

He said the company had extended the timeframe for the workers to decide whether or not to sign the new contracts so they could return to work next week.

"Our doors are always open," he said.