CEO's $400k employment claim falls short

Last updated 14:36 09/11/2012

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A former Southland meat processing plant boss who was unjustifiably dismissed has been awarded $100,000 but has fallen about $300,000 short of his claim.

Former Prime Range Meats chief executive Russell Brocks worked at the company for about two years before he was sacked in August 2010 for reasons that were found to be of unjustified disadvantage and unjustified dismissal.

Brocks was alleged to have taken ear tags from dead calves that either arrived at the plant dead or died overnight, and put them on calves that were missing ear tags.

Ear tags are required by the NZ Food Safety Authority and are present on bobby calves when they arrive at the plant for slaughter.

Calves that do not have ear tags are not fit for human consumption.

Brocks saw the matter played out at the Employment Relations Authority in Christchurch, where he claimed more than $300,000 in unpaid bonuses and over $100,000 for loss of earnings, bonus and benefits, but was awarded $100,000.

Prime Range Meats managing director Anthony Forde became concerned with Mr Brocks' performance as chief executive and said in his evidence to the Employment Relations Authority that by November 2009 he had a management crisis.

Brocks was alleged to have instigated the swapping of ear tags and failed to do anything about the issue. He was also alleged to have failed to carry out an investigation on the matter. Brocks denied the allegations.

Employment Relations Authority member Helen Doyle said Brocks was entitled to more than $100,000 including a bonus payment of $88,276, $8600 in lost wages, $540 in holiday pay and $650 in superannuation.

These are subject to a 5 per cent interest rate and Brocks is also entitled to $6000 in compensation.

Brocks made three claims and the authority questioned whether a dividend from Prime Range Livestock, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Prime Range, should be excluded from the bonus claim.

Representative Mary Jane Thomas submitted that as CEO of "the company" as stated in the bonus clause, Brocks was entitled to bonuses from both Prime Range Meats and Prime Range Livestock.

However, ERA member Helen Doyle said she did not find that "the company" referred to both, and Brocks was only entitled to a bonus on the performance of Prime Range Meats.

Brocks did not get a bonus of 5 per cent of Prime Range Livestock's net profit for 2009, which was more than $1.1 million.

Russell Brocks claimed more than $300,000 in unpaid bonuses; and more than $100,000 for loss of earnings, bonus and benefits.

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Awarded $100,000.

- The Southland Times


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