Category: Engineering, Infrastructure, and Extractions

E tū appalled by sudden closure of Masport

E tū says the union and its members at MFL Precision Foundries in Mt Wellington have been blind-sided by the receivership of the company.

A manager yesterday notified the union of the receivership by phone, but so far there is no official confirmation, says Ron Angel, E tū Industry Coordinator.

Meanwhile, he says the firm’s workers have been sent on leave for the Christmas break without being told about the receivership, which is unacceptable.

“We are deeply appalled that the employer has done this, knowing full well this was coming and that their workers didn’t know. Nor did the union,” says Ron.

“We understood the company had some financial challenges, but this has come as a complete surprise.

“We are now working hard to contact our members, to let them know what is happening, and to ensure they know their rights and entitlements.”

The union is also seeking an urgent meeting with the receiver.

At its height, when it produced the famous Masport lawn mower, the foundry employed up to 400 workers.

“This is a pretty sad end to a company which has traded for about 100 years,” says Ron.

“It’s another example of a company which has been down-sizing over time and now it looks like the end has come. That is always very hard news for those involved and especially just before Christmas.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Ron Angel E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0055

Job losses at RCR Dannevirke a blow to workers

Workers at RCR Energy in Dannevirke are reeling after the company announced pending job losses related to its Australian parent company being put into administration.

The company, which is a boiler manufacturer, told workers this morning it expects 20 staff will lose their jobs as it works to keep the plant afloat.

RCR in Dannevirke employs 49 workers, including management and support roles.

“This is a massive blow for the workers and the small community of Dannevirke,” says E tū Lead Organiser Laurel Reid.

“A lot of the staff have been working there a long time and it will be next to impossible to find work in the town with the skills these workers have,” she says.

Laurel says the proposed redundancies are another blow to local manufacturing, which has seen a steady loss of quality manufacturing jobs in recent years.

“These workers are qualified tradesmen and labourers, and highly skilled in heavy fabrication but it’s more than likely they will have to move towns to find a new job.

“It’s devastating news at a time of the year when people expected they would be anticipating celebrations and time with their families over the Christmas and New Year break. Instead, they are waiting to hear if they have work or not.”

Laurel says details of the redundancies are expected to be announced in a week’s time, “but for 20 people, it won’t be good news and it’s through no fault of their own.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Laurel Reid E tū Lead Organiser ph. 027 591 0024

 

E tū welcomes Pike River re-entry

E tū has welcomed the decision to proceed with the re-entry of the Pike River mine drift in a bid to uncover the cause of death of the 29 men who died there in November 2010.

The Minister in charge of the re-entry effort, Andrew Little made the announcement this morning, together with some of the Pike River families, E tū officials, police, and members of the Pike River Recovery Agency.

“This is a major victory for the families and their supporters who fought hard for this outcome, which we hope will further illuminate the cause of this tragedy which cost the lives of 29 workers,” says Paul Tolich, E tū Senior Industrial Officer.

“The more we know, the more we can plan to protect lives in high-risk industries,” he says.

“For the families, it holds the hope of closure and it is a milestone in the campaign for justice.

“It is also important for health and safety and the prevention of deaths on the job. All workers have the right to return home to their families at the end of the working day.

“The union also congratulates Andrew Little, the Minister responsible for the Pike River entry, who has shown fine leadership in carrying this task through to fruition.

“Although she is no longer with us, Helen Kelly has also been vindicated in her support for the families and the fight to re-enter the mine.

“This also shows what can be achieved by those who battle for a just outcome. The families have shown that if you campaign long enough and your cause is just, you can achieve success despite the naysayers who told the families they were wasting their time.

“When you have a government determined to do the right thing, you can achieve an outcome that serves justice and vindicates the families’ long years of struggle.

“This is yet again another example where the Labour/NZ First government has fulfilled the promises made on the campaign trail.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Paul Tolich E tū Senior Industrial Officer ph. 027 593 5595

 

Big fine after worker caught in press

31 October 2018

MEDIA RELEASE

Big fine after worker caught in press

E tū has welcomed the big fine handed down to Carter Holt Harvey LVL plant at Ruakaka in Northland after a member was seriously injured in October 2016.

Steven Vincent had his chest and shoulder crushed, suffering multiple fractures, lacerations and lung injuries after his body became trapped in a conveyor belt at the plant.

A WorkSafe investigation found the LVL press machine wasn’t guarded, in breach of the company’s health and safety procedures.

In the District Court in Whangarei today, CHH LVL Ruakaka was ordered to pay Mr Vincent $55,000 in reparations, and fined $371,000 plus costs.

E tū organiser, Annie Tothill says the judge said he had taken into account the fact that there were more than 26 previous cases involving Carter Holt Harvey, some involving a lack of guarding, which in this case added another $60,000 to the fine.

“This was essential guarding,” says Annie.

“Steve was putting his body at risk.  His whole body went into the press. Not only was there inadequate guarding: there was no guarding at all.”

Annie says the fine sends a message that workplaces must be safe and that a failure to meet basic safety requirements is unacceptable.

“Steve has suffered months of agony and recovery from his injuries – he’s only recently had more surgery for the lung damage caused by this terrible accident and may require more,” says Annie.

“He is lucky to be alive.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Annie Tothill E tū organiser ph. 027 573 4934

 

E tū welcomes construction initiatives

E tū says it is supportive of new government initiatives to bolster recruitment and training in the construction industry.

The initiatives, announced in Auckland today, also include new visa rules to make it easier to employ skilled migrants for specific projects.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Ron Angel says the plan means the Government will require the building companies it works with to provide training and skill development, “which we support,” he says.

He says the policy also recognises the industry is changing, with the development of new qualifications in specialised areas such as framing manufacturing and the assembly of prefabricated buildings.

“We’re in favour of this, especially if you get a qualification or credentials and you get extra money for that,” he says.

“It’s also good to see innovative new materials show-cased today, including the XLAN cross-laminated timber and construction process.”

Ron says the establishment of more industry hubs, with all the services needed to maximise recruitment, training and career development is also a sound move.

“We saw these set up in Christchurch after the quakes and they were very effective with a lot of activity generated out of them,” says Ron. “It’s a good idea.”

Ron says the union also supports planned visa changes to expedite the hiring of skilled migrants.

“These were flagged back in June and include the requirement that accredited employers including labour hire companies meet good employment standards and are committed to employing local workers.

“We are supportive of this, given the protections for migrant and local workers, as well as a construction boom that’s expected to last for many years.

“The demand for labour isn’t going to ease in the short term but the priority needs to be local jobs, training and career paths for New Zealand workers.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Ron Angel E tū Industry Coordinator, ph. 027 591 0055

 

Nearly 900 to strike at BlueScope steel mills

E tū members at BlueScope Pacific Steel in Auckland will strike for a second time for 24 hours, from 7am on Wednesday, 19 September in protest over 6 months of stalled pay talks.

The strike affects about 120 members at Pacific Steel’s rolling mill and wire mill.

Also, at 7am on Wednesday, about 750 members from BlueScope’s NZ Steel mill at Glenbrook will strike for 12 hours.

Union members voted to strike over the low-ball pay offers BlueScope has presented to its workers both here and in Australia, where BlueScope members in Port Kembla have begun rolling strike action.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says BlueScope refuses to budge on their offer, despite posting a huge profit of AUD$1.6 billion this year.

BlueScope’s New Zealand companies lifted earnings by 80% – the highest return in the business.

“While our Government is committed to lifting wages, internationally employers are coordinating a strategy to hold wages down,” says Joe.

“There is a clear and growing trend of top multi-national companies presenting low pay offers, despite big profits.”

At NZ Steel, workers had a pay rise of just one percent over the past two years and also gave up their bonuses, saving BlueScope millions of dollars.

“Fair’s fair,” says Joe. “It’s time to give back to the workers who took a hit when times were tough. This is hot, dirty and hazardous work and yes, our members get paid for that.

“But this is a dispute about a company that’s delivered an eye-watering profit and thinking it’s ok to offer a mean-spirited pay rise to its highly skilled steel workers. It isn’t.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Joe Gallagher Industry Coordinator E tū ph. 027 591 0015

Members will be picketing outside the Pacific Steel mill tomorrow from 7am

Where: James Fletcher Drive, Otahuhu.

 

Second strike at OceaniaGold Waihi mine

Workers at OceaniaGold in Waihi will be on strike again this weekend, as the company continues to refuse a fair deal for the workers.

On Monday, workers at OceanaGold’s underground mine at Waihi voted unanimously for a second 48-hour strike, beginning at 7.15pm on Saturday, which will go ahead now that the company has refused to improve their offer in negotiations today.

The members had rejected a low-ball offer of 2.2 percent during earlier pay talks.

E tū organiser Myles Leeson says that while the workers are keen on resolving the issues, they will remain staunch as they fight for what they deserve.

“We’re hoping for a resolution to this dispute, and that means a realistic pay rise,” Myles says.

“The offer of 2.2 percent is well below what the company can afford, and what the workers are worth.

“The workers know they aren’t getting what they deserve, and they are very committed to continued industrial action while the pay offer remains so poor. Support for this second action has been rock solid.”

Myles says that the workers deserve their earned share of the record profits the company has enjoyed this year.

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Myles Leeson, 027 536 2690

 

Strike at OceanaGold Waihi mine

Workers at OceanaGold’s Waihi underground mine will walk off the job for 48 hours on Saturday in support of their pay claims.

The 90 members will strike from 7.15pm on Saturday until 7.15pm on Monday.

The strike is the first of a series of planned stoppages over the coming weeks.

OceanaGold has enjoyed a record profit this year, with the company boasting of strong margins and promising greater returns to shareholders.

E tū organiser, Myles Leeson says the Waihi mine is also expanding, with recent surveys revealing a rich vein of gold in a new field – up to seven times the amount that was expected.

“The company’s doing really well, and they’ve got to share that with the workers,” says Myles.

“They need to remember who digs that gold out of the ground for them and reward them with a fair pay rise.”

Myles says members have agreed to a union-initiated roster which reduces their excessive hours which have led to problems with fatigue. However, he says this will mean pay cuts of up to 19 percent.

“They’ve accepted this and are comfortable with it. They’ve been working ridiculous hours to get a decent wage. So, they need a fair pay rate, so they can earn a living without unsafe working hours.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Myles Leeson E tū organiser, ph. 027 536 2690

 

 

Report: housing, pay critical issues for migrants

Low pay and poor housing have emerged as critical issues in a report commissioned by E tū on the experiences of migrant workers.

The report has been released today at events in Auckland and Christchurch.

The research, which was funded by the Industrial Relations Fund, records the experiences of mostly Filipino construction workers in Christchurch and Auckland in 2017 and 2018.

The report, by researcher and lawyer, Catriona MacLennan also reveals wide-spread exploitation of migrants by immigration companies and so-called pastoral care companies.

Most experienced pay discrimination. While one earned $27.00 an hour – compared with $35.00 paid to Kiwi workers – he said others earn much less – $19 and $22.00 an hour.

Housing is a critical issue.  In one case, three of the workers interviewed shared a sleepout with another ten in the house, all paying $150.00 a week. In another case, four families shared a four-bedroom home. Many experience damp, unhealthy living conditions.

Many are in debt to immigration companies when they arrive, while others were being gouged by companies providing services such as a car or internet access.

Most complained their pay was too low to meet immigration criteria for extended or permanent working visas or residency.

“For the first time there is research which shows migrant workers who are Filipino being underpaid because they are Filipino and for no other reason,” says Ron Angel, E tū Industry Coordinator Engineering and Infrastructure.

“When I was reading this, it nearly brought me to tears. The angst they were going through, and the suffering on a daily basis, being away from their families…and what got me was, here we were welcoming these people into New Zealand to help rebuild Canterbury and we didn’t look after them.

“In fact, we made life terrible for them and I feel ashamed.”

Ron says the issue of expensive, unhealthy housing also needs to be dealt with.

“If you’re going to decide you need migrant workers, then there needs to be reasonable housing for them,” he says.

“You can’t just bring them in and throw them into anything you can find.”

Ron says the report recommends government action, to ensure new-comers are properly supported and get the advice they need.

“If Immigration NZ wants these workers here, then it needs to provide that pastoral care,” says Ron.

ENDS

For further information, contact

Ron Angel E tū Industry Coordinator Engineering and Infrastructure ph. 027 591 0055

Click here to download the full report.