Fired union member wins $11k

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 13:32 09/09/2012

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A Kawakawa woman has won over $11,000 from the local Four Square supermarket after the Employment Relations Authority found she had been unjustifiably dismissed and discriminated against because of her union membership.

Ripeka Nathan-Bristow was made redundant without warning or consultation in November 2009.

Before she was dismissed she had her hours cut and other staff were hired at higher rates.

The store operators told the ERA there were concerns over Nathan-Bristow's performance though the employee responded that she had not received any warnings.

When the redundancy move was made, Nathan-Bristow contacted the National Distribution Union (NDU) and a representative told the Four Square they had not followed the correct procedure.

The owners then posted a notice for staff asking for voluntary redundancies.

Another employee, Rupunga Kaka, offered to take redundancy "not because she wanted to do so, but in order that Mrs Nathan-Bristow would not be made redundant".

Mrs Bikha, the store owner, "had rejected her offer and made it clear to her that it was Nathan-Bristow whom she wanted to make redundant", the ERA said.

Nathan-Bristow was made redundant about a week later with a letter that gave her one day's notice.

ERA member Eleanor Robinson ruled that the Kawakawa Four Square had not acted fairly and reasonably and Nathan-Bristow had not been properly consulted.

Robinson also ruled that Nathan-Bristow had been unfairly disadvantaged by having her hours cut and by not receiving an employment agreement when she asked for one.

Kawakawa Four Square also deliberately failed to provide wage and holiday time records and discriminated against Nathan-Bristow by further cutting her hours when she got the union involved.

Robinson said Nathan-Bristow had had medical consultations over her "distress at the dismissal and consequential impact in the local community".   

She ordered the Four Square pay her $4,875 in lost wages and $5,500 for hurt and humiliation.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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