Category: Manufacturing and food

Mediation after Air NZ engineers strike vote

Aviation unions say they are very disappointed with the misleading information released by Air New Zealand in response to a strike notice by its aviation engineers.

The engineers and logistics workers have voted to issue strike notices in response to Air New Zealand’s demands for cuts to their conditions.

Air New Zealand is making record profits thanks to union members, and Engineering members have rejected the airline’s demands for clawbacks, says Savage, E tū’s Head of Aviation.

“No one wants to disrupt people’s Christmas plans, but Air New Zealand has taken an unnecessarily aggressive approach.

“This is not just about pay. It’s about repeated proposals by the airline weeks out from Christmas to pay them less than colleagues who have already settled, and to cut into key conditions, including overtime rates.

“This affects line and hangar engineers, but also store workers and aircraft cleaners, who are covered by the same document and who are struggling to get ahead,” he says.

“Our members feel under-appreciated and under attack. The ballot results show an overwhelming resolve to take action to defend themselves.”

Both unions have already agreed to mediation on Monday with airline representatives, to try to resolve the dispute and avert a strike, the first of which is scheduled for 21 December.

More than 970 engineering members of E tū and the Aviation and Marine Engineers Association voted 95 percent to strike, at meetings this week in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Savage says Air New Zealand has very high union membership, though strike action is extremely rare.

“Aviation workers don’t make these decisions without good cause. In aviation, there is a constant downward pressure on costs driven by airlines. The result is a race to the bottom on wages and conditions,” says Savage.

“New Zealand needs to remain a high-wage high-skilled economy. Aviation is a life blood industry.

“We will be in mediation with Air NZ Engineering management first thing on Monday and will carry on bargaining in good faith in the hopes of reaching a deal,” he said.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Savage Head of E tū Aviation, ph. 027 590 0074

 

At Sistema, all we want for Christmas is a fair deal

Sistema workers have walked off the job again.

The workers came off the job for the 5th time at 9pm last night in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions.

Shreta Kumar, an assembly worker who normally works 60 hours a week says, “This is really hard for many of us low paid workers so close to Christmas, but we don’t feel like we have a choice.

“Our employer has got away with low pay for so long that we need to educate them to treat us with respect,” she says.

“Sistema are an iconic New Zealand brand, built on the back of low paid workers, who are struggling to provide for their families,” says union advocate Mat Danaher.

“This gets tougher and tougher as we get closer to Christmas. E tū members’ action today shows that we’re in this for the long haul.”

“All we want for Christmas is a fair deal,” says Shreta.

ENDS

E tū Sistema workers are picketing outside the plant:

Where: 221b Ihumatao Road, Mangere

When: 6am –

For further information, contact:

Mat Danaher ph. 021 336 519

 

 

 

 

Second strike by E tū Sistema members

E tū members at Sistema have taken strike action this morning, walking off the job at the giant Auckland plastics factory at 11am.

The strike follows a walk-out by nightshift union members from 11pm on Tuesday as workers take action over low pay and poor conditions – issues the company won’t budge on.

Striking workers will be picketing at the plant this morning and available for media to speak to.

“It’s a hard thing for these workers to take this action, especially so close to Christmas. They work hard for the money,” says E tū Lead Organiser, Mat Danaher.

“But they are determined to win a better deal for themselves and their colleagues and are prepared to make sacrifices to do that,” he says.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Mat Danaher E tū Lead Organiser ph. 021 336 519

Picket:

Where: Sistema Plastics 221 Ihumatao Road, Mangere

When: from 11am –

 

 

 

Night-time strike at Sistema

 

E tū members working at Sistema Plastics in Auckland walked out at 11pm last night in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Sistema workers have been negotiating with their employer since February, with the aim of getting more than the minimum wage.

Sistema worker Maria Latu says, “We don’t want to strike, but we know our employer does not value us.

“We work long hours for just above the minimum wage. We get sick, we don’t spend enough time with our families, and our bosses just tell us to go and work somewhere else if we don’t like it.”

E tū Campaign Lead Mat Danaher says that Sistema have driven their workers to take drastic steps by refusing to listen to them.

“Sistema make millions selling their products all round the world. They are a well-known Kiwi brand, sold last year for $600 million, and yet they refuse to recognise the worth of their workers.”

“We’re sick of it,” says Maria. “My colleagues have had enough, we are prepared to stand up to have a chance at a decent life.”

“It’s about time Sistema came to the table and gave their staff an offer that will make a big difference to their lives, but which will be tiny drop in the ocean when it comes to their profit,” says Mat.

ENDS

More information contact:

Mat Danaher E tū ph. 021336519

 

 

Workers to picket Sistema

From 5am to 9am tomorrow, Sistema E tū members and supporters will picket outside the plant to highlight problems caused by Sistema’s low pay and poor working conditions.

There will also be a sausage sizzle, with other workers and members of community groups also attending to show their support.

Most workers at Sistema are on the minimum wage, working 60 hours a week.

“Production has recently ramped up, but a revolving door of staff shows workers are increasingly unwilling to put up with the long hours and poor pay,” says Mat Danaher, E tū Campaign Lead Organiser.

“New staff are starting every day and then leaving as soon as they can,” says Sistema worker and E tū delegate, Sesilia Williams.

“Sometimes they just drive off at the first break, not even telling anyone they’re going,” she says.

“They get here and soon realise they’re not able to handle the work or hours, and the pay doesn’t make it worth their while. They would rather take their chance that there is another job out there.

“Meanwhile, the high turnover is putting greater pressure on the workers who stay to pick up the slack and fill those Christmas orders,” says Sesilia.

Mat says Sistema refuses to learn the lesson that it has much to gain from providing decent, well-paid job with reasonable hours.

“Other New Zealand companies have realised that taking care of their staff makes their businesses more productive, as well as being of benefit to their workers. Sistema needs to take that on board.

“Workers there have had enough, and this picket and sausage sizzle is a way for them to show their frustration, blow off a little steam, and enjoy the company of other people who will be joining them to show their support,” says Mat.

ENDS

For more information or to speak with workers, contact:

Mat Danaher E tū Campaign Lead Organiser ph. 021 336 519

Open letter presented to Sistema CEO

At midday today, Sistema workers, together with community leaders and local and national politicians will present Sistema CEO Drew Muirhead with thousands of open letters, urging the company to improve the pay and conditions of its workers.

E tū says it’s a strong message from the public to Sistema, which the union understands is struggling to find staff after revelations of the low pay and long hours.

At Sistema, most members earn the minimum wage and are required to work a 60-hour week.

E tū organiser, Fala Haulangi says a widely circulated photo of the burnt and blistered hands of a Sistema worker has also exposed the poor working conditions.

“People who work at Sistema often leave work exhausted and in tears,” says Fala.

“However, our members are buoyed by the support they’ve had from the many thousands of people who have signed these letters.”

Fala says the union believes the sweatshop conditions may now be affecting production and that it has been told Sistema is 50 workers short of what’s needed.

“We’ve told Sistema something has to be done, and it looks like workers are voting with their feet,” she says.

“This is their busy season, but we’ve heard machines are sitting idle which need to be operating to fill orders. Drew Muirhead needs to know there is a cost to the low pay and long hours.”

Delegates at the plant agree.

“If they want to hire more people, they’re going to have to improve wages and conditions,” says E tū delegate and Sistema worker, Maria Latu.

“Because now, people hate coming to work. They say it is like working in a jail. The CEO needs to think about that and do something, or he’ll turn around and there won’t be anyone there.”

ENDS

What: presentation of open letters, calling on Sistema to improve wages and conditions

When: midday, Friday 19:  everyone meets at 11.45am in the Sistema carpark.

Who: Sistema union members and delegates; MP Marama Davidson; Auckland councillor, Josephine Bartley; community leaders including churches and migrant union, Migrante.

Where: Sistema, 221 Ihumatao Road, Mangere, Auckland

For further information, contact:

Mat Danaher Campaign Lead organiser E tū ph. 021 336 519

 

 

Huhtamaki job losses devastating blow

E tū says the loss of 128 jobs at the Huhtamaki factory in Henderson is a devastating blow for workers there.

Union Lead Organiser, Alvin Livingstone says E tū has 150 members at the packaging plant, who have yet to learn who will stay and who will go, with workers experiencing a range of emotions.

“This is a big hit for workers, their families and the west Auckland community. Add the fact that Christmas is looming, and this is very hard news for them,” he says.

Alvin says the company claims it remains committed to manufacturing in New Zealand, “but if these job losses go ahead, Huhtamaki will have laid off over 260 workers in the last eight years.

“The restructure is also disappointing given the company’s half yearly results show strong sales in the Europe-Asia-Oceania region. It’s profitable but obviously not enough to satisfy the company.”

Huhtamaki will now manufacture paper and plastic hot and cold cups, plastic takeaway containers, and wine dividers at its Asian factories.

“It’s just another example of a big multinational deciding to move production somewhere else, at a huge cost to local workers,” says Alvin.

He says the priority now is to explore redeployment options for affected members, as well as job opportunities with local employers for soon-to-be redundant workers.

“The redundancy process will be worked through rigorously to ensure fairness and the best outcome for affected members,” says Alvin.

ENDS.

For further information, contact:

 Alvin Livingstone E tū Lead Organiser, ph. 027549 1410

 

E tū welcomes High Court ruling on steel dumping

E tū says its support for NZ Steel’s complaint of steel-dumping by China has been vindicated by a High Court ruling directing MBIE to reinvestigate.

NZ Steel claimed Chinese producers of galvanised steel coil were heavily subsidised by the Chinese government and this negatively affected its business.

However, in a decision last year, MBIE said it found little evidence of steel dumping with the government deciding not to impose tariffs on Chinese steel makers.

NZ Steel sought a judicial review of the decision, with the High Court ordering MBIE to reconsider the complaint and quashing the government’s decision.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says it was clear at the time that MBIE’s investigation lacked rigour, and the union welcomes the High Court’s decision on the matter.

“Among the key grounds cited by NZ Steel for its judicial review was the paucity of information provided to the investigation by the Chinese government and producers – something that disturbed us at the time, so we feel vindicated by this decision,” says Joe.

“Now, not only will MBIE have to reinvestigate – it will also have to be much more rigorous in scrutinising the level of support for Chinese steel manufacturers by banks and other entities – which it failed to do first time around.”

Joe says the ruling has also upheld NZ Steel’s view that overseas investigations had found the Chinese Government had subsidised steel products, thus providing relevant evidence which MBIE wrongly discounted in its advice to the Minister.

“This is a common-sense ruling which recognises the very poor quality of MBIE’s original inquiry,” says Joe.

“We’ll be keen to see what they come back with next time, given they’ve just been given pretty clear directions on what’s expected.

“For the sake of our steel industry, it’s critical to get it right.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Joe Gallagher Industry Coordinator E tū ph. 027 591 0015

Strike at Pacific Steel

Members at BlueScope Pacific Steel in Auckland will strike for 24 hours on Wednesday, 15 August.

Members will walk off the job from 7am in protest over the break down in their pay talks.

An overtime ban has been in place at the Otahuhu site since Friday.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says workers voted to strike after five months of frustrating pay talks, with BlueScope refusing to make a decent pay offer – despite its huge profit, unveiled yesterday.

“BlueScope has more than doubled its net profit this year to almost AUD$1.6 billion and lifted their pay out to shareholders,” says Joe.

“The New Zealand side of the business delivered a lift in earnings of more than 80 percent – the highest return in the group. To suppress wages in the wake of this stellar result is unacceptable,” he says.

Joe says members met the company for mediation on Friday and thought they had a deal.

However, he says the company quickly withdrew its offer and members imposed the overtime ban and voted to strike.

“Our members have taken a hit in recent years – they’ve taken modest pay rises and worked with the company to cut costs to support the business. Now it’s bounced back but it isn’t prepared to share the bounty with its workers.

“Their Australian counterparts have had the same offer and are also voting on strike action. It’s clear BlueScope has taken a trans-Tasman approach to bargaining with their low-ball offer.

“These are highly skilled production and trades workers who use their hearts, heads, and hands every day to make the profits this company now enjoys. That is particularly true here in New Zealand, so the company needs to make an offer that reflects that benefit.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Joe Gallagher Industry Coordinator E tū ph. 027 591 0015 or

Ahlene McKee E tū Northern Region Director of Organising ph. 027 591 0065

Members will be picketing outside the mill tomorrow from 7am-11am.

Where: James Fletcher Drive, Otahuhu.