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Declined court appeal another win for meat workers

The Meat Workers Union (MWU) has welcomed the judgement of the Court of Appeal today declining an appeal from Meat Industry employers against an Employment Court decision that ruled that "donning & doffing" is “work”, under s 6 of the Minimum Wage Act.

This decision will mean workers will now be paid for the time they spend preparing to go to and from rest and meal breaks including taking off and cleaning their safety equipment and going through complex hygiene processes - known in the industry as "donning and doffing".

The original case was between Ovation Gisborne, Fielding, Te Kuiti Meats and the Meat Workers Union where the issue of donning and doffing, and whether piece work payments incorporated money for paid breaks were considered. The Employment Court ruled in favour of the MWU on both issues.

Donning and doffing continues to be a concern for meat workers in the industry" says Graham Cooke, National Secretary of the NZ Meat Workers Union (MWU).

“More and more, workers have been paying with their own time at start & finish times and paid and unpaid breaks have been encroached upon by company requirements around hygiene, export standards and food safety.

"This decision applies across all meat processing companies. Of course there will be some variations, but we now expect all companies to comply with this decision, and to work with the union on compensation for workers who have not been paid their correct entitlements” says Mr Cooke.

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