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Court rules against 'bargaining agent fees'

Court rules against 'bargaining agent fees'

Business NZ has welcomed a recent Employment Court ruling that it's unlawful to make workers pay a bargaining agent fee.

NZ Dairy Workers' Union v NZ Milk Products Ltd was a test case for the union movement's bid to gain income from non-union employees receiving wages and conditions achieved through union action.

The two parties had inserted into employment agreements a clause requiring workers who were not union members to pay the union a fee for its bargaining activities.

The Court found it breached the Wages Protection Act (by imposing a directive on how wages should be spent) and the Employment Relations Act (among other things, by imposing undue influence on employees not to join another union).

Business NZ Executive Director Anne Knowles said the decision brought certainty to the issue.

"Employers and employees can now enter into bargaining knowing that they will not have extra 'bargaining agent' costs imposed against their will. The important principles of freedom of association and freedom from duress have been reaffirmed by this decision," Ms Knowles said.

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