Commonsense ruling welcomed
BusinessNZ has welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling on the issue of replacing striking workers, in the case Air Nelson Ltd v EPMU.
The previous decision by the Appeal Court had found Air Nelson had breached the Employment Relations Act by assigning the work of striking employees to contract workers.
The Act says such work may only be done by other employees if they are not brought in to do the work of the striking employee.
The Appeal Court had viewed this work as the particular work the striking employee would have been performing if not on strike.
But the Supreme Court viewed it as meaning the type of work usually done by that employee, and since the contract workers did the work routinely, it held that they were not being asked to do the work of a striking employee, but their own.
The Supreme Court said viewing the work as a strict definition of particular tasks would be prohibitory towards employers and would tilt the balance too much in favour of unions.
BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said requiring prohibitive definitions of tasks in workplaces would simply make New Zealand businesses uncompetitive and he welcomed the Supreme Court’s commonsense ruling.