Meat worker gets more than $20k for personal grievance

By Matthew Backhouse
A seasonal meat worker who was not re-hired due to suspected cannabis use, despite passing a drug test, has been reinstated and paid more than $20,000 in compensation.
Melissa Mackie worked for four seasons at the South Pacific Meats plant in Invercargill, starting in 2006, but was not re-hired for a fifth season in 2010, an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) finding released today said.
It is standard practice for seasonal meat workers to be laid off at the end of each season and re-employed the next.
Plant manager Malcolm Hampton wrote to Ms Mackie on July 19 to advise her that offers of employment for the new season would be contingent on employees returning a negative drug test.
Ms Mackie passed the test but Mr Hampton wrote to her on July 30 to inform her she would not be re-hired.
Mr Hampton said the decision not to re-hire her was based on staffing needs at the time and the fact she suffered a workplace shoulder injury at the end of the previous season.
But he also cited her partner Henry Kingi’s recent conviction for growing cannabis, which he said raised concerns she may be a cannabis user herself, despite having returned a negative test result.
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