Category: Food

LSG SkyChefs decision “important legal victory”

E tū is welcoming the decision of the Court of Appeal to turn down an appeal application from global airline catering company LSG SkyChefs, cementing an important legal victory for New Zealand workers.

Last year, the Employment Court ruled that hundreds of labour hire workers working in LSG SkyChef’s catering operation were in fact employees of the company, and if they were union members then they were entitled to the employment conditions set out in the union collective agreement.

E tū Assistant National Secretary John Ryall said that the Court of Appeal decision meant that the litigation was at an end, and LSG SkyChefs would need to pay the labour hire workers their proper entitlements.

“This decision cements our very important legal victory for the New Zealand workforce,” says John.

“Labour hire is being regularly used by many New Zealand companies to move the risk of employment on to a group of very vulnerable workers. It is time that the companies using labour hire in this way changed their business model.

“Our union will be knocking on the door of other companies who were also exploiting the mostly migrant labour hire workforce.”

ENDS

For more information or comment:
John Ryall, 027 520 1380

E tū: Nestle job losses “a bolt from the blue”

The union, E tū says the announcement of job losses at Nestle’s factory at Wiri in Auckland has come as a “bolt from the blue”.

The union has about 200 members at the plant, where up to 55 workers could lose their jobs after Nestle reached a provisional agreement to sell its sugar and confectionary business to private equity firm, Quadrant Private Equity.

Well-known Kiwi brands affected by the sale include Mackintosh’s, Heards, Black Knight liquorice, Life Savers and Oddfellows.

The restructure will also see production of Nestle’s Scorched Almonds move to a third-party contractor in Melbourne, while production of the iconic Lollipops brand will move to China.

“We were aware of the sell-off of product lines and cuts to staff overseas, so we asked the company specifically if there were any such plans for New Zealand,” says Phil Knight, E tū Industry Coordinator, Manufacturing and Food.

“We were assured there were none, so this has come as a bolt from the blue,” he says.

“Not only is this the opposite of what we were told, but we weren’t invited to the meetings they held with our members late yesterday afternoon to deliver this news, prior to the public announcement.

“So, we’re very disappointed. The company has issued a letter with its reasons for this restructure and sell-off and announcing a consultation process.  The union is making every case for a decent timeframe for this, given the probability of job losses.”

Phil says workers may be offered jobs at Quadrant’s Levin-based factory, or in Melbourne, “but we have yet to learn the detail of the sale proposal let alone any alternative work offers.”

In the meantime, he says the union is supporting its members “who are going through the usual range of emotions that you’d expect from an announcement like this.”

“While the union-negotiated collective agreement has very generous redundancy provisions, it is not the same as a job, and we are worried about this coming on top of other job losses in the food manufacturing industry in New Zealand,” says Phil.

Phil notes the decision comes soon after the Cadbury closure and follows announcements of future job losses at Griffins and Kraft Heinz Watties.

“This is yet another example of a global corporate making decisions which adversely affect local workers,” he says.

“I think it’s time for New Zealanders to think carefully about what products and businesses they support, and where the profits made go to.

“Where they have a choice and the products are competitively priced and of a good standard, we would urge them to consider buying New Zealand-made products only.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator, Food Sector ph. 027 591 0053

 

 

Industrial action at Premier Bacon

About 150 workers at Wairarapa company, Premier Bacon will begin industrial action just after midnight tonight (12.01am Tuesday, 26 June) in support of their pay claims.

The workers will refuse all overtime until the matter is resolved, says E tū Lead Organiser, Mark James.

“The company depends on our members doing overtime, as the plant is healthy and doing good business,” says Mark.

Mark says the total cost of meeting the members’ claims is about $118,000 – compared with company profits for the year to December, 2017 of $5.55 million.

The members are seeking a pay rise of 75 cents an hour, as well as an additional day’s sick leave, and an additional day of bereavement leave.

“Our members work in a cold, damp environment with temperatures below 4 degrees, so they get sick more often,” says Mark.

“And because they work with food, they may be required to stay away from work if they catch a bug – and some must do this when they have no sick leave left.

“Our members need just a tiny portion of Premier Bacon’s profit to meet these claims,” he says.

“By contrast, the company is investing about $15 million in expansion plans. Our claim is worth just 1.6 percent of that amount. Workers are Premier Bacon’s biggest asset and they should be respected.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Mark James E tū Lead Organiser ph. 0275 990 113

 

 

Bitter taste of Cadbury PR push

A promotional road show by Cadbury owner, Mondelez, will likely serve as a bitter reminder for many New Zealanders of what happened to Cadbury Dunedin, says E tū.

Mondelez launches a road trip tomorrow, in a bid to persuade Kiwis to create “real moments of connection” and to enjoy chocolate with the people they love.

But E tū Industry Coordinator, Phil Knight says a lot of people aren’t feeling the love for Mondelez after it managed to corrupt its own brand.

“The road trip is an admission by Mondelez that their closure of Cadbury has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Kiwis, and that’s sure to have hit its bottom line,” says Phil.

“New Zealanders were very angry about Mondelez closing the Dunedin factory and Cadbury World with the loss of hundreds of jobs,” he says.

“Kiwis connected with Cadbury and enjoyed the chocolate for 150 years. But that ended for many people when Mondelez closed a profitable business and moved production off shore.

“We heard a strong message that people were loyal to Cadbury because the chocolate was made here.

“That is no longer the case and we expect New Zealanders are voting with their wallets and sourcing their sweet treats from companies which support the local economy,” Phil says.

“Whether or not the chocolate remains the same is up to the customer to decide.  But you can’t change the fact that up to 500 people were laid off by Mondelez, which did very well out of this country.

“Indeed, corporate greed seems harder to satisfy than the most ardent chocoholic’s taste for confectionary. Cadbury may make a sweet product, but its actions have left a very bitter after-taste.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Co-ordinator, Food ph. 027 591 0053

 

Sad end of an era as Cadbury World closes

E tū says the announcement that Cadbury World is closing is a sudden and unexpected end to Cadbury’s presence in Dunedin.

E tū understands Mondelez made the decision to close the popular tourist attraction because the land was needed for Dunedin’s new hospital.

Workers learned of the decision earlier this month, with Mondelez closing Cadbury World this week while it consulted workers over whether to keep trading, or to shut immediately.

“The workers were told they’d be paid whether the place reopened or not, and so they voted unanimously for closure, so they can get on with their lives and find new jobs,” says Phil Knight, E tū’s Industry Coordinator, Food.

“It was a no brainer in the end,” he says.

“They all agreed – let’s just pull the pin. So, it won’t be re-opening and the workers have all received notice this week that their jobs are gone.”

The workers have received six weeks’ notice in addition to any redundancy compensation that might be owed.

“It’s been a quick and unexpected end and a sad end,” says Phil.

“Everyone was led to believe the business would be maintained but it turned out that wasn’t the case so it’s a disappointment.

“People will get what they’re entitled to including redundancy and notice, but it’s not a job,” he says.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator, Food ph. 027 591 0053

Cadbury members stoked over Highlanders tickets

E tū says former Cadbury workers are hugely looking forward to this Saturday’s Highlanders vs Brumbies game, which they will be able to attend for free.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Phil Knight approached the Highlanders about making tickets available for a home game, as a fillip for redundant workers following the Cadbury closure.

The franchise agreed and has allocated 360 free double passes to the game.

“We thought the Highlanders are iconic to Dunedin in a similar way to which Cadbury has been, and that perhaps the team would be interested in marking the fact that those people are now without a job,” says Phil.

“We just thought they might want to share a bit of love and it would be great to see the team recognise the contribution these workers have made to the city.”

He says he was “stoked” when the team said yes, with workers emailing the union to say how pleased they are.

“It’s absolutely a shot in the arm for them. It just shows the recognition among the Dunedin population about what a great loss to Dunedin those jobs are,” says Phil.

“This is a great chance for the workers to share some time together and also thank their local communities for their support over what has been a turbulent year for them, with uncertain times still ahead for many.”

The Highlanders Chief Executive, Roger Clark says, “The Highlanders, DVML and Ticket Direct know that Cadbury employees have experienced the stress of redundancy recently.

“We all enjoy a tremendous amount of support from our community and this is a small way in which we can repay that support,” says Mr Clark.

The tickets are all in the south stand and redundant workers can collect their tickets from the south stand box office this Friday or Saturday.  Eligible workers will need to bring photo I.D to secure their tickets.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator, Food ph.027 591 0053.

 

 

 

Thursday last day at Cadbury

E tū is standing tall with our members at Cadbury, ahead of the last day of work for most remaining staff.

Engineering workers will remain on site to decommission the plant, but everyone involved in production will finish up on Thursday, 29 March at midday.

It’s been a rough few months for people still working, with most doing a final tidy up this week in the near-empty factory.

“It’s been a bit of struggle heading towards the end,” says Cadbury worker and union on-site Vice President, Teresa Gooch.

After weeks watching the plant being dismantled around them, Teresa says most people can’t wait to finish up.

“It’s been really tough, tougher than I thought it would be,” she says.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Food, Phil Knight says it’s the end of an era for Cadbury, which began in Dunedin in 1930, after joining forces with Richard Hudson’s confectionary and biscuit business.

“It’s been a great site to represent,” says Phil.

“It’s been a pleasure working with such a loyal, hard-working and dedicated group of people. That professionalism won’t stop when they leave here. They’ll take that with them to their next job,” he says.

Phil says the closure will have significant flow-on effects for associated firms, such as packaging company Amcor whose staff have sent a note of support to workers.

“New Zealanders care about what’s happened to this plant,” says Phil. “They don’t like the closure and I would ask them to think about that when they’re grocery shopping.

“New Zealand in general produces quality food. We’d like to see people choosing New Zealand-made wherever they can, to help protect jobs.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator, Food ph. 027 591 0053

We can put media in touch with Cadbury workers who are prepared to comment.

For more information, contact:

Karen Gregory-Hunt, Communications Officer, ph. 022 269 1170.

 

Major milestone as production ends at Cadbury

In a poignant milestone, the last production run –  of Pineapple Lumps – rolls off the assembly line at Cadbury in Dunedin today.

The plant closes for good on 29 March, but workers are looking to the future, says Phil Knight, E tū Industry Coordinator, Food, who visited the Dunedin factory on Wednesday.

“We very much wanted to thank people for being loyal, committed members for so many years, and to wish them well for the future,” says Phil.

“It’s been tough on people coming to work and their workmates of many years aren’t there,” he says. “The oldest serving member has been there for 38 years.”

But Phil says the feeling is generally positive.

“People are looking forward to the next phase in their lives, albeit with some anxiety and sadness.”

“The vast majority have plans in place – either they have a job lined up, or they’re retiring, and some are just taking a bit of time to evaluate what they do next.”

He says local employers have recognised the quality and skills of the workers as well as their work ethic, “so they’re valued and they’re valuable.”

He says members have found jobs across New Zealand, many in the local region, including in the retail, wholesale, aviation, manufacturing, transport and power industries.

However, he says as they job-hunt, members have noticed the stark difference in pay and conditions, and health and safety standards compared to a union site like Cadbury.

“That’s going to be an eye-opener for many. Unionised workplaces offer better terms and conditions and also, a safer working environment,” says Phil.

Meanwhile he says the normal hustle and bustle of the factory floor has been replaced by a disquieting silence.

“When you stand at one end of one of the factory floors and you look to the far end where it’s all been cleared out, it’s clean as a whistle but also a bit spooky too. Because you know that up until a few months ago, it would have been 30 or 40 people working there, it was a hive of activity. So, to see it so quiet – it’s ghostly, eerie.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator, Food ph. 027 591 0053

We can put media in touch with Cadbury workers who are prepared to comment.

For more information, contact:

Karen Gregory-Hunt, Communications Officer, ph. 022 269 1170.

Silver Fern Farms reduce already inadequate offer after industrial action

Nineteen maintenance workers at Silver Fern Farms Takapau are very disappointed that instead of improving their offer after today’s strike action, the company has made the offer even worse.

Before the workers took industrial action, the company had offered a 1.5% increase as back pay for the nine months prior, followed by 2% increase at the time of settlement.

This low offer came despite the company sending out a memo to staff just two weeks ago that stated that “the Company will post a reasonable profit this year and… that the Takapau plant has a large part to play in achieving that.”

The workers rejected the low offer and voted to take strike action to demand an offer that appropriately recognised their hard and important work.

However, the company has now withdrawn their offer of back pay, apparently demonstrating no desire to give the workers the modest increases they are requesting. The workers have also been suspended for the duration of their industrial action.

E tū organiser Laurel Reid says that the workers are not deterred.

“The 19 maintenance workers were unwavering out on the picket line today, even under a thundery sky, with every intention of continuing to fight for fair recognition of their hard work,” Laurel says.

“The company are playing hardball – that much is clear. But we won’t back down until a fair offer is on the table.”

ENDS

Media are invited to the picket line tomorrow.
For more information or comment: Laurel Reid – 027 591 0024