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Appeal Court dismisses NZ Herald case

Appeal Court dismisses NZ Herald case

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by NZ Herald publisher Australian Provincial Newspapers, confirming an Employment Court ruling that union members may not leave a collective agreement while it is in force.

The case was sparked by the Herald telling two senior journalists that they would have to leave the collective if they wanted a pay rise.

Their union, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, complained to the Employment Relations Authority that the newspaper’s actions were a breach of good faith.

But while investigating the claim, authority member Yvonne Oldfield expressed doubts about whether aspects of the Herald editorial collective agreement were legal, and referred the matter to the Employment Court.

In November last year, that court ruled that workers covered by a collective agreement could not leave the collective and sign an individual agreement without resigned from the union.

The Employment Court also said that any move by the Herald to make a pay rise conditional upon a worker leaving the collective agreement would breach the Employment Relations Act and International Labour Organisation conventions.

APN appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal. That court today said that it dismissed the appeal, and ordered APN to pay costs of $6000 plus disbursements.

The EPMU today welcomed the decision, saying it should put an end once and for all to APN’s ideological war against the union.

“This decision should give the impetus required for Herald management to move off their ideological position and start engaging constructively with the union,” said EPMU national secretary Andrew Little.

Meanwhile, the decision clears the way for the Employment Relations Authority to resume considering the union’s claim of a breach of good faith.

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