5 Oct 2015

Lockout a powerful economic weapon, court told

11:57 am on 5 October 2015

An Employment Court hearing has started in Auckland where a union is arguing Affco meat workers have been illegally locked out from work.

Affco workers travelled from Wairoa to Auckland for the hearing.

Affco workers travelled from Wairoa to Auckland for the hearing. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

The case is part of a long running battle between union members and Affco over the use of individual contracts.

A collective agreement with the meat company expired in December 2013, and before the hearing the company said it could not employ people who did not have a contract.

Opening the case, a lawyer for the Meat Workers Union, Peter Cranney, said there are two closely related issues in the case; whether it was unlawful for Affco to bargain with union members individually and whether lockouts at Affco were unlawful.

Mr Cranney told the judges that a lockout was a very powerful economic weapon that could be linked to poverty and deprivation.

Several meat workers travelled from Wairoa for the hearing.