Bidfood New Zealand Limited, the NZ food arm of multinational heavyweight Bidvest, has been determined to have breached good faith and required to comply with an instruction from the Employment Relations Authority after refusing to enter into bargaining with FIRST Union.
The union sought a determination from the Authority after the company refused to acknowledge an initiation of bargaining letter, a letter the union sends to the company when it wishes to negotiate a collective agreement.
Under NZ law a company must negotiate with a union once it has initiated bargaining. Authority member Eleanor Robinson found that Bidfood had breached section 43 and section 32 of the Employment Relations Act by refusing to notify its employees that the union had initiated bargaining and refused to bargain with the union.
FIRST Union Transport Logistics and Manufacturing Secretary Jared Abbott said he was pleased with the decision and commended the Authority for making it in a timely manner.
“Our members have been waiting since May for the bargaining to commence” said Abbott. “At least now they know they were in the right and that the company will have to comply with the law”.
Mr Abbott said the company had been difficult to deal with and the union had received complaints about being pressured by management not to join a union.
“When international companies come to New Zealand, they need to realise that they have to comply with New Zealand’s laws. I am surprised they even tried to defend this case but hopefully it will make the company question their behaviour going forward” said Abbott.
“It’s a shame we have to take court action over obvious things like this, but our union is willing to take these fights to ensure all workers are treated fairly by the cowboy employers giving businesses a bad name”