Category: Manufacturing and food

Cloud Ocean job losses “disappointing” says E tū

E tū, the union at Cloud Ocean, says it met today with site management and its union delegates to discuss the company proposal to lay off 125 of the 160 strong work force.

E tū Industry Coordinator (Manufacturing & Food), Phil Knight says the company has been difficult to work with but it’s disappointing things have come to this.

“This is hard news for the workers, and we will be talking with our members about a response to the proposal, and doubtless seeking compensation for the loss of their jobs and income, as well as commitments around re-employment should the plant resume operations,” says Phil.

He says he’s hopeful most workers will find jobs in the event the plant shuts down.

“They’re good workers and any of the businesses crying out for people with a good work ethic and production skills would benefit from offering them employment.”

Phil says the union has no view on the controversy surrounding the company’s use of water from the local aquifer.

“The thing for us is whether they’ve been a fair and reasonable employer and contributed to the Christchurch economy, and the fact is they haven’t,” says Phil.

“These are permanent workers on pretty much minimum wages and conditions, and the work is precarious – they’ve faced constant changes of shift and shift cancellations at short notice.

“It’s had a high turnover because of the very poor conditions,” he says.

Phil says the company seems to have been disorganised from the start.

“There appears to have been little due diligence to ensure they had a market to supply, to as well as what’s required to run a business in New Zealand. They’ve been applying practices that may be commonplace in China but not acceptable in New Zealand.”

Phil says that includes constant breaches of health and safety, basic employment conditions and Holiday Act provisions.

Phil acknowledged few in Canterbury will be sad to hear the plant is likely to close.

“Besides wages, Cloud Ocean has contributed little to Christchurch, with materials including the plastic bottles, boxes and equipment all imported from overseas.

“But there is an opportunity to at least ensure any worker losing their job through this is treated right, and to look after staff properly if they do get production underway again.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator (Manufacturing & Food) ph. 027 591 0053

E tū urges NZTA to lift funding for VTNZ

E tū has written to Mark Ratcliffe, the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Transport Agency, urging the Agency to improve funding for VTNZ so its workers can be fairly paid.

VTNZ driving test and vehicle testing officials took strike action on Monday for 24 hours in protest over their pay.

The driving test officials earn between $21.00 and $22.50, which members say doesn’t reflect their skills and experience, nor the on the job hazards. Vehicle testing officials also earn below the industry standard.

E tū Lead Organiser, Dayna Townsend says driving test officials have been trying to improve their basic pay scale since 2014 when NZTA awarded the driver testing contract to VTNZ.

Before then, Dayna says the AA had the contract “and the starting rate for driving testers was higher then than the highest paid rate for them now. As well as the higher pay, they had allowances which also boosted their pay.

“Vehicle testers are also at the bottom of the mechanics scale.

“NZTA funding for VTNZ is too low to ensure these workers are fairly paid,” says Dayna.

“This is a huge problem for our members wherever services are contracted out to private companies. Typically, government agencies chose the lowest tender and it is workers who pay the price for that, through low pay.”

Dayna says NZTA has been asked to increase the funding for VTNZ so it can lift pay rates to a more realistic level.

“These are government workers, doing the government’s job of keeping people safe on the roads. They should be fairly paid and that means paying contractors enough to ensure that happens,” she says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Dayna Townsend E tū Lead Organiser ph. 027 590 0070

An update for our Metals members

Following our last update (which you can check out on our website), your bargaining team met for another day of talks on 19 July.

The result was an agreement has been reached for a settlement, subject to ratification, for the renewal of the Metals and Manufacturing MECA for 2019.

The parties are still in discussion to finalise the wording of the new clauses required to meet the amendments to the Employment Relations Act and some new clauses as a result of members’ claims.

Members can look forward to full details of the proposed settlement, and notification of ratification meetings in the near future.

In the meantime, thank you all for your participation and support during the process.

Regards

Your bargaining team.

Members “blind-sided” by Sanford job cuts proposal

E tū says its members at Sanford’s Bluff fish-processing plant have been blind-sided by job cuts proposed by the company. 

Up to 30 jobs – almost half Sanford’s Bluff workforce – could be lost if the proposal to move white-fish processing to Timaru goes ahead.

E tū organiser, Anna Huffstutler says members were completely in the dark about Sanford’s plans until they were suddenly called to a meeting on Tuesday.

“That was the first we’d heard of these plans,” says Anna.

“Our members were completely blind-sided. It had never been mentioned before. There was no discussion, not an inkling that this was happening,” she says.

“The members are shell-shocked, absolutely shell-shocked. They feel like they’ve been lied to. They are really angry. Some of them have worked there a long time.”

Anna says Sanford recently gained a resource consent to expand its salmon farms at Bluff, arguing this would bring jobs and benefits to the community.

“So, the community thought things were solid in Bluff because Sanford made a commitment that there would be more jobs if they got the consent. Now, what they’re saying is, that’s not going to happen for three years.

“People are furious, and they feel very misled.”

Anna says the move appears to be driven by profits.

“Sanford made a $66 million profit last year. So, I said to the CEO, Volker Kuntzsch, ‘How much is enough?’

“He told us shareholders want a $100 million profit and a 10 percent return on shares. So, it’s not like they’re doing this out of financial hardship,” says Anna.

“Bluff’s a small place. There are no other jobs, so they’d have to look outside Bluff. It’s a real blow.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Anna Huffstutler E tū organiser, ph. 027 209 7436

Win as Sistema members secure agreement

E tū Sistema members who have been in dispute with their employer over wages and conditions have agreed to accept the company’s latest offer for a new collective agreement.

The deal will lift wages by about 16 percent for all members, by April 2020. Also included are provisions so workers are always paid a margin above the minimum wage.

Sistema has also agreed to regular meetings between union delegates and its management to resolve issues.

Members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the deal at meetings this week.

The ratification of the agreement follows more than a year of talks, mediation and industrial action by workers at the giant plastics firm.

“The agreement is a big step forward and will see us working in a much better workplace than before,” says E tū delegate and Sistema worker, Maria Latu.

“The dispute has brought union members together, and we have learned that we can rely on each other, and when we do that, we are strong,” she says.

E tū advocate, Mat Danaher says the members refused to settle until they believed the deal was as good as they could get.

“These are low paid workers, who work extremely long hours. They’ve been prepared to walk off the job numerous times to get what they want at considerable personal cost.

“Through it all they’ve stood strong, and this is a well-deserved win,” he says.

.Mat and the members also extend their thanks to the wider community in New Zealand and overseas who also supported the campaign for better pay and conditions for Sistema workers.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Mat Danaher E tū advocate and Lead Organiser ph. 021 336 519

 

Foundry workers out in the cold

Workers employed by MFL Ltd (formerly Masport Foundry) in Auckland returned from their holiday this week to find they had no jobs, no wages, and no holiday pay.

They were sent on their annual Christmas shut-down early and were told that they would be returning to work on 7 January. However, MFL Ltd went into receivership on 18 December.

About 90 workers with specialised skills are now going into 2019 without secure employment.

Pati Pele, who has worked at the foundry for nearly 30 years, is “pretty bummed out” that the company has treated their loyal workers like this.

“We committed our loyalty to this company. To be sent on holiday without knowing this was going to happen, and in fact being told we would be back to work this month, made this a big shock and really upsetting, especially at this time of year,” Pati says.

Debashish Mukherjee shares that sentiment. “I am absolutely gutted by what has happened and that there was no inkling that this was coming,” he says.

“This has been very hard for me and my family as we are basically out of money. As a 62-year-old, I am worried that I may not be able to find work as a skilled machine operator.”

Matthew Mateariki, a maintenance fitter who did his apprenticeship with the company and has worked there for 17 years, worries about his colleagues’ job prospects.

“I’m feeling lucky as I have a trade, but I’m gutted for my workmates as they are skilled foundrymen whose specialised skills may now be redundant,” he says.

“I am absolutely disgusted at the way me and my fellow workers, most of who have been there for a long time, were treated.”

Ahlene McKee, E tū’s Northern Region Director of Organising, says that the union is doing everything possible to get the workers through this difficult period.

“We’re helping the workers file claims with the receiver, prepare CVs, and we’ve brought in WINZ consultants to explain what entitlements the workers may be able to get,” Ahlene says.

“Some companies have already been in touch offering jobs to these workers, which is encouraging. However, there are a lot more jobs needed – and fast.

“These are hardworking and skilled machine operators, fitters, fettlers, electricians, patternmakers, furnace operators, gantry crane operators, and dispatch workers. We hope that more employers out there will come forward with job offers.

“Anyone can see that these workers have been treated appallingly and deserve a fair go.”

ENDS

Affected workers may be available for media interviews. For more information and comment, please contact Ahlene McKee on 027 591 0065.

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 –