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Butcher was right to be fired for racist comments, ERA says

From Stuff

An Auckland butcher, sacked for making racist comments to colleagues, has lost his bid to keep his job.

Kukyi​ Tupuanga​ had been working for Auckland Meat Processors Limited for 31 years but was fired in May for making derogatory comments about Islam.

On May 13, Tupuanga’s colleague, Mohammed Sarik,​ saw Tupuanga abusing another colleague who was a halal butcher. Sarik stopped the chain in the butchery and rang for team leaders. As a certified halal butcher, Auckland Meat Processors’ butchers can perform religious practices, including praying, at specified times each day.

Sarik informed HR advisor Jackie Dennis about the incident. She told the Employment Relations Authority that Sarik was “visibly shaking and distressed” after the incident. 

When Tupuanga was questioned, he responded with a shrug.

Tupuanga was then taken to a meeting room and asked to apologise to his colleagues who were threatening to walk off the job if the issue had not been resolved.

Dennis and three other managers met with Sarik, who claimed Tupuanga had been making racist remarks for a while related to the Government “letting too many Muslim refugees in and [they’re] taking all our jobs”, as well as making derogatory comments about not eating during Ramadan.

The following day, HR manager Shane Baty had a meeting with one of the other halal butchers Tupuanga had abused.

That butcher, Sheik Imran, claimed Tupuanga called him a “f……. Muslim”, and said “you are taking our jobs”, “I will get rid of you” and “you’re always f…… praying and taking too long”.

Imran also said Tupuanga had bowed down on his knees twice, mocking how he and Sarik prayed. 

When the managers heard Tupuanga’s side of the story, he said the incident was in retaliation to a recent threat from Imran.

Tupuanga referred to Imran as the “new little man” and claimed he had threatened to “give him a hiding”. Tupuanga said he knelt to make mock Imran’s height not his religion. 

Baty held a formal investigation into the allegations and viewed CCTV footage which showed Tupuanga kneeling twice, facing the office and lowering his head as if in prayer. 

At the investigation meeting on May 15, Tupuanga reiterated the incident was in response to Imran’s threat, and he had lowered his head to watch “sheep racing”.

However, the sheep were not visible from the angle he was facing when he was kneeling.

Baty preferred the version of events described by the Sarik and Imran, because Tupuanga changed his story, other employees also saw him mocking the prayer routine, and he asked other staff to back him up despite being told to keep the matter confidential.

Tupuanga was told a formal disciplinary meeting would be held and if serious misconduct was found he could lose his job.

At the meeting Tupuanga said he detested all forms of racism and was highly supportive of his colleagues during the Christchurch shootings.

Auckland Meat Processors found Tupuanga used hurtful language, mocked Islamic beliefs and provoked his co-workers with continued slander towards Ramadan.

Tupuanga was dismissed on May 23. 

​Tupuanga claimed his dismissal was unjustified and that Auckland Meat Processors breached its duty of good faith.

But the authority found Auckland Meat Processors acted as a fair and reasonable employer given the circumstances.

The authority member Vicki Campbell said the incident on May 13 was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for the halal butchers.

“While a meat works is a robust environment I find Mr Tupuanga’s comments and conduct was capable of being regarded as serious misconduct. His comments and conduct were racially offensive and denigrating to the Halal slaughtermen at whom they were directed,” Campbell said.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. He did not make racist comments.
    Just anti-religious comments.
    Muslims are a religion just like Christians.
    Muslims can be arabs, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi, Indonesians and Europeans and part Maoris (Sonny Bill)

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    • exactly. but do we really expect stuff to get it right? also, wacist sounds worse.

      Its a good example of identity politics though. The Tonga? guy is the wacist.

      There’s always a group that’s worth more than you in identity politics.

      Now if Mr Tupuanga was transitioning to a woman at the time, he couldn’t be fired.

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  2. I am struggling with this one.

    • Auckland Meat Processors want Halaal certification as a business, to improve their profit / make more money / etc. To have that, there are certain requirements they must meet. That seems as reasonable as seeking ISO certification or others for a business purpose.
    • “I will get rid of you”; not the type of language you’d expect in a workplace. You’d expect a certain amount of ribbing and messing around with colleagues, but threats are crossing a line – I think.
    • Discussing refugee quotas, job losses and so forth are not discriminatory, racist, etc. It may be offensive, but when somebody says something offensive – ignore them or ask them to shut up.

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    • If the market requires that, so be it. That is between the business and its consumers, isn’t it? Just as the rest of us are free to protest or refuse to buy from those butchers.

      Agree on the animal cruelty though, if it is worse than any other slaughter – there are laws to protect and should be applied equally.

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      • I don’t see it as discrimination when it is a legitimate requirement for fulfilling the role. For example, you can’t be a Rabbi if you’re not of the right faith. That’s not discrimination. You can’t be a Halal certified butcher unless you’re a Muslim. That’s not discrimination.

        And I don’t see it as another country dictating our laws, belief or morality. A local business had decided it wants to deliver product to a market that requires a specific certification. That certification does not breach any of our local laws as far as I’m aware of and, in religious terms, stunning the animal prior to the cut is not considered a breach. (Which is probably how they get it past animal rights activists)

        What is interesting though is there is a ban on kosher beef being prepared in New Zealand. (Since 2010) I wonder why there is a difference for the ritual slaughter of one animal, but not for others?

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        • Why? Go work at a different butcher that doesn’t want / need Halal certification?

          May as well rant that you can’t work at Microsoft in AI when all you know how to dig ditches and you’re missing your appropriate MS* certification.

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        • P.S. Only the slaughterman needs to be a muslim (The one that drags the knife across the throat). All other processing, butchering, etc. of the meat can be done by a person of any religion IF that meat is destined for Halal certification. Otherwise any slaughterman / butcher can handle it.

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  3. This is f***ing disgusting. How long before the minorities in NZ wake up to the fact that they are going to be the big losers out of the islamification of NZ? Maori have to start waking the f*** up to the fact that their high proportion of the prison population is going to be the victims of the muslim forced conversion process that exists in Western prison these days. This targetting of a person of pacific origin is just the start. People from the Pacific countries seem to easily assimilate into NZ life – they permeate sport, culture, religion and the work place in a positive and culture enhancing fashion. Sounds like an “interesting” decision by ERA member Vicki Campbell – who looks like she’s been on the ERA for waaaaay too long – this is her second extended stint. I guess this is just a perfect example of a white privileged person telling a person of colour how not to be racist – pass me another Tui.

    In the USA we’re seeing the awakening of the black population to the universal truth that the DNC still sees the blacks as their slaves – despite it being well more than a century since a war was fought to secure emancipation. Blexit is a thing and Trump has record approval levels among black and latino voters (not bad for a fake news proclamed racist). Surely the coffee coloured NZers can’t be that far behind realising that the white chardonnay sipping Left is the cause of all their problems in NZ too?

    Still we know who to blame for this abortive legislation still being on the statute books – it’s another one of the Labour union pork barrels that John Key failed to repeal when he became PM (along with WFF, free student loan bribes, selling Cullen’s train set etc etc). What a wasted opportunity the Key years were – how much better NZ would be if he’d used the time to do meaningful stuff dismantling Clark’s timebombs – instead we had the flag referendum.

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    • That includes the disaster that is Fonterra. Clarks evil legislation against advice of even Cullen and the Nats. But then the Nats allowed the Foreshore legislation to go thru. Ones as bad as the other.

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  4. All immigrants should have to swear allegiance on the holy bible to our queen and our way of life.

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