Affco has been ordered to reinstate a worker at its Moerewa plant it sacked for allegedly writing "scab" on a co-worker's locker, after the company was found to have unjustifiably dismissed him.

The company has also been ordered by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) to pay Dennis Harris three months' pay as reimbursement for lost wages and $7500 as compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings.

Mr Harris was dismissed from his role as meat processing worker at the Moerewa plant on August 20, 2015, after almost 35 years at the plant. Affco has yet to decide if it will appeal.

He was dismissed for what the company said was serious misconduct after he was accused of writing "scab" six times inside the food locker of a fellow worker and alleged he had also destroyed company property - the locker.


Mr Harris, who is a member of the Meat Workers Union, denied writing the word and destroying the locker, but he was dismissed after an investigation by the company.

During the ERA hearing Affco's executive director Dane Gerrard submitted that he wanted to "underline the serious threat of union intimidation that was occurring in the factory at the time.

"The issue is about intimidation of other staff not wishing to accept a strike declaration from the union after certain employees had already declined to accept, which is their right."

But ERA member Andrew Dallas said Mr Gerrard's concerns did not change that the Employment Relations Act required the Authority to consider if the company's decision to dismiss was correct.

Affco's operations manager Tony Miles, who conducted the investigation, found his actions were so serous he had no option but to dismiss him.

The ERA found Mr Miles had formed a view that Mr Harris was responsible for the vandalism and had closed his mind to the possibility it had been caused by somebody else, so did not properly investigate the allegations. Northern Advocate