Hunter Valley abattoir worker charged over alleged sexual harassment after union complaints

A meatworker has been charged with indecently assaulting co-workers at a Hunter Valley abattoir in New South Wales, two months after the ABC aired concerns about harassment at the business.

In March the ABC's 7.30 program aired allegations of sexual harassment at Primo Smallgood's Hunter Valley Meatworks in Scone.

At the time, the Meatworkers Union compiled a petition signed by 75 workers about claims a supervisor had been sexually harassing workers.

Primo said the accused was stood down during an investigation, but no concrete evidence was found and and he was cautioned and reinstated.

But now police say a 38-year-old abattoir worker has been charged with six counts of aggravated indecent assault and one count of indecent assault.

Detectives say the charges relate to three women and a man, but believe there may be more victims who have not yet reported the matters.

The ABC has been told all four were backpackers.

The man, who now lives in Sydney, is on conditional bail and is due in court next month.

Grant Courtney from the Meatworkers Union says it is a concerning case.

"We feel vindicated for the workers concerned," he said.

"Of course 20-odd people made allegations of being harassed in their workplace."

Mr Courtney says he is thankful for the employees who reported the harassment, despite the fact the company did not believe the allegations.

"Serious charges, you know, clearly we're talking about harassment," he said.

"We're talking about sexual assault.

"We're talking about this fellow handling young women, handling young men and we had a petition, with many many signatures on it which the company simply did not believe."

He says the abattoir's owner, Primo, denied the allegations.

"The principle company Primo denied those allegations [and] generally said our comments were unsubstantiated," Mr Courtney said.

"However, through the police actually now charging this individual, I would suggest that Primo actually correct those statements."

ABC News 7 June 2014