Category: Manufacturing and food

E tū demands action over AFFCO boiler

1 August 2018

MEDIA RELEASE

E tū demands action over AFFCO boiler

E tū has written to WorkSafe asking it to urgently respond to a second incident involving the boiler at AFFCO’s Moerewa meat works, which seriously injured a boilerman in an incident last month.

The man is being treated for serious burns in Middlemore Hospital.

E tū organiser, Annie Tothill says the latest incident occurred on Monday night.

“We understand coal accumulated in front of the boiler door,” says Annie.

“Usually someone would open the door to inspect the boiler. But the earlier incident meant the boilerman was hypersensitive and instead shut the boiler down.

“I have been told the problem lies with the feeders that feed the boiler with coal. This system is not alarmed so problems are undetectable until pressure reaches a dangerous level.

“This is serious, and our members fear another appalling accident,” she says.

She says AFFCO told the union the boiler has been checked by an independent professional, “but it appears the assessment failed to spot the feeder was faulty.”

Annie says there is a culture of fear at the plant and workers are too afraid to raise issues for fear of intimidation or losing their jobs.

“Our members have zero confidence in the plant management and it’s time WorkSafe took the matter seriously. It needs to act swiftly to ensure the boiler is shut down until both incidents are thoroughly investigated and the causes are fully addressed.”

Annie says she has written to AFFCO demanding they remedy the fault and undertake sustained testing and monitoring to ensure the boiler is safe before it is used again.

The union has also written to WorkSafe, requesting an urgent assessment by an inspector as well as an assessment of the boiler by a qualified external engineer.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Annie Tothill E tū organiser ph. 027 573 4934

Annie has a busy day – please text her to make arrangements for an interview, and she will call back.

 

Sistema CEO hiding from workers

Sistema CEO Drew Muirhead has refused to meet with worker representatives to receive a petition signed by more than 300 Sistema workers.

The petition reminds Sistema that its high productivity levels and product quality are due in large part to its workers, and in return they should be respected and rewarded with fair pay.

E tū advocate Neville Donaldson says the signatories include both union and non-union workers at the giant plastics firm, “which shows you how aggrieved people are feeling,” he says.

“Anger over their working conditions extends across the entire factory floor. When non-union workers join their unionised colleagues to protest about lack of respect, you know there’s a problem,” Neville says.

“In this case, everyone wanted to express their frustration over not being valued for their contribution to Sistema’s success – something Sistema’s management has refused to take on board.

“They feel no obligation to respect or reward workers fairly.”

E tū delegates at Sistema say workers are fed up with compulsory 60-hour weeks for minimum rates of pay, as well as the terrible working conditions.

This week workers revealed via social media the blisters and callouses on their hands from the hard work they do. As one delegate told E tū: “It’s a sweatshop.”

Neville says Sistema’s refusal to deal with the concerns of its workers goes to the heart of the labour reforms of the current Government which has recognized the need for change.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Neville Donaldson E tū advocate and National Director of Industries ph. 027 543 5312

No relief at Sistema sweatshop

E tū says Sistema’s American owners are determined to preserve the sweatshop conditions established by former owner, Brendan Lindsay who sold the company for $660 million.

The union has been in talks with this wealthy company, seeking better pay and conditions for its mainly migrant workers.

But E tū advocate, Neville Donaldson says Sistema’s multi-billion-dollar owner, Newell Brands refuses to consider anything more than the bare legal minimum.

“They’ve told us they won’t deliver any pay and conditions much more than the law requires for the vast majority of its staff – that’s bare bones minimum wages for workers who are required to work five 12-hour days – that’s 60 hours a week.

“Overtime” rates are just $2 more per hour and is only paid out after 60 hours per week.

“Some people work 12- hour days, seven days a week,” says Neville who accuses Sistema of the systematic exploitation of its predominantly Indian, Filipino and Pasifika workforce.

“They’re predominantly migrants and come from a back ground of having no choice but to accept whatever they are offered,” he says.

“Sistema is exploiting this belief, and the workers as a result.”

E tū delegate, Maria Latu says,” People think they are made to work like robots here. The operators are overworked and the money they get at the end of the week isn’t worth it.

“They deserve better,” she says.

Neville says Sistema is a perfect example of why workers need fair pay agreements.

“Sistema seems proud to be the lowest paid plastics firm in the country, with the worst conditions of employment and the longest hours, whilst lauding the success of its products.

“It must be challenged over its behaviour. If it goes unchallenged, then other employers may feel they also have to reduce pay and conditions to compete.

“Sistema needs to grow a soul and consider what’s fair for workers. The public is growing impatient with wealthy, exploitative companies – and that certainly describes Sistema.”

Neville says the union is looking to mediation next month to break the stalemate.

He says the union has strong support on site, with membership growing to more than 200 as workers grow sick of the long hours, low pay and fatigue of their grinding working week.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Neville Donaldson E tū National Industry Strategy Director (Food) ph. 027 543 5312

 

 

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.