Category: Manufacturing and food

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.

Closure of iconic Christchurch plant

E tū is extremely concerned to see another local manufacturer shutting up shop and heading overseas.

Schneider Electric confirmed today it is closing its Christchurch plant and shifting operations to Australia and Vietnam with the loss of about 50 jobs.

The plant, which produces light switches and power plugs, was formerly part of iconic Christchurch company PDL, with a decades-long history in the city.

“These are quality fittings and they’ve been very popular for many years. They’re in most New Zealand homes and would be instantly recognisable to most Kiwis,” says E tū Industry Coordinator, Phil Knight.

Phil says a number of workers have been with the firm since its days as PDL, with one long serving staffer clocking up 42 years on the job.

“This is a workforce that’s very much a big family. They’re proud of their product and also very sad to bid farewell to their workmates and friends,” says Phil.

The announcement comes just weeks after ABCorp announced it was closing its Christchurch plastic card factory and also relocating abroad.

“We’ve seen a string of these closures, and every time it’s a blow for our members and the economy,” says Phil.

“The official line is there’s a buoyant job market out there, but manufacturing jobs like these have provided secure, well-paid, permanent, full-time jobs. These are now a relative rarity.

“However, these workers do have skills and good work records that would be of interest to any employer in any number of industries,” he says.

Phil says the union will be promoting their interests once a closure date is confirmed.

Schneider’s other New Zealand operations are not affected by the closure.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0053

 

100 jobs at Juken’s Gisborne mill on the chopping block

Juken New Zealand Ltd (JNL) has announced a proposal to nearly halve its workforce at their East Coast mill in Gisborne.

E tū represents production workers at the mill. E tū Engineering Industry Coordinator Ron Angel says the move would be a big blow to the community.

“As the only significant wood manufacturer in the area, the livelihood of many family relies on jobs at the mill,” Ron says.

“E tū and FIRST Union will be working hard to save these jobs, but the company is very serious about this proposal.”

The company is entering the consultation period today.

“Once such a consultation begins, it’s very difficult to save the jobs that are on the chopping block. This could be the start of some real hardship for many East Coast families.”

Ron says that this proposed downsize, as well as recent news about the likely closure of ABCorp’s Christchurch plastic card manufacturing plant, demonstrates the need for urgent action from the Government to save our manufacturing industry.

“The Labour-led coalition Government has made a strong commitment to protecting working families and helping with decent regional employment opportunities.

“After nine years of a National Government that treated Kiwi workers as an afterthought, we expect the current Government to step up on these issues as a matter of priority.”

ENDS

FIRST Union President Robert Reid will represent the unions in the media.
For more information or comment, please contact:
Robert Reid – 021 535 933

Dozens to lose jobs as Christchurch card plant set to close

About 50 workers are set to lose their jobs after a prominent plastic card manufacturer has proposed moving operations to Australia.

ABCorp have informed workers of their intention to close their plastic card manufacturing plant in Christchurch by as early as 30 March, after a three-week consultation process.

E tū spokesperson Joe Gallagher said the workers are shocked by the news. While a final decision has not yet been made, the future doesn’t look good.

“It’s really come out of the blue for them and the short consultation period makes us think that the company’s mind is made up,” Joe says.

“Most people will have cards in their wallet that were made at this site. They produce bank cards, ID cards, loyalty cards and a lot more. It’s a real shame that these good kiwi-made products are just the next product to have production moved off-shore.”

Joe says that while the company may offer employment at other sites, this would be unrealistic for most workers.

“Families can’t just up and move to New South Wales. The company has indicated that they may help people find other jobs – we expect them to take the commitment very seriously.”

Joe says that these and other types of jobs could be saved by the Government taking a better look at local procurement, particularly as the closure comes after the company has lost a number of local contracts.

“Our new Government has made a strong commitment to New Zealand workers and their families. We’d like to see a Government-led commitment to local procurement in manufacturing and in fact, across all industries.”

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Joe Gallagher – 027 591 0015

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

Silver Fern Farms workers to strike as pay offer “just not good enough”

Nineteen maintenance shift workers at Silver Fern Farms have voted unanimously to strike for three days from 3 January as the company has refused to give them a fair offer in negotiations.

Bargaining has been going on for over a year and the company’s tiny offer has only increased from 1% to 1.5%.

E tū and Silver Fern Farms entered mediation earlier this month, however the company have refused to improve their disappointing offer.

E tū delegate Brendon Illsley says the offer is “just not good enough”.

“We keep the plant running, from plumbing to fixing machines – anything that needs to be done.

“We work long hours and the morning shift starts at 5am. There’s also a lot of overtime at this time of the year.

“We’re not asking for much, but 1.5% is too little – we’re not trying to be greedy.”

E tū organiser Laurel Reid says that it was quite clear from the employer’s response early in the process that there would be problems.

“Silver Fern Farms did not take our claims seriously, from bargaining to the recent mediation,” Laurel says.

“Industrial action is always a last resort, but these workers need a fair deal and peace of mind over the Christmas season.”

ENDS

For more information or comment, please contact:
E tū Organiser Laurel Reid – 027 591 0024

Reality hits home for Cadbury workers

It will be a sad day for Dunedin as 85 permanent, full-time Cadbury confectionary workers end their employment with the company, effective Friday.

The loss of their jobs ends many years of collective contribution to an iconic Dunedin institution, and “there will be tears and sadness, as people realise it’s over,” says E tū delegate and Sub-branch Vice President, Teresa Gooch.

“Many will look back on years of camaraderie and really, the good times of working at Cadbury where workmates have been like family. Cadbury has been good to us. There is a real feeling of loss, so there will be grieving,” she says.

“It’s also hard for those of us who will still be working here – we know we’re next and we’re also feeling for our departing friends.

“Some have found jobs and gone already, but many others are very anxious.”

However, Teresa says people need to stay positive.

“I would urge people to have some faith about where they go from here. A lot of employers are keen to take on the Cadbury workers due to their committed work ethic, reliability and service to the company. These are wanted workers.

“As long as they’re active and positive there’s a good chance they’ll get a job somewhere.”

E tū Industry Coordinator Food, Phil Knight says the union remains concerned over the demise of many good quality jobs, especially in provincial centres like Dunedin.

“These have been good, permanent, full-time jobs and those aren’t always easy to find. We know some people are leaving Dunedin to get into jobs so it’s very disruptive,” he says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Teresa Gooch E tū delegate and Sub-branch Vice President: ph. 027 231 8119

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator, Food Sector ph. 027 591 0052.

 

 

 

 

E tū fights employer moves to undermine minimum wage rise

E tū is very disappointed to learn that some employers are trying to avoid the upcoming minimum wage increase by building workers’ allowances into their basic hourly pay.

The allowances are typically paid for such things as service, travel time and in recognition of shift work.

E tū’s Industry Coordinator Food Sector, Phil Knight says the union believes it may be dealing with a collective employer strategy to undermine a higher minimum wage.

“For employers to move allowances into the basic rate would be to neutralise any increase provided for in the hourly rate effective from 1 April 2018,” says Phil.

“This would undermine workers’ right to fair pay and a reasonable standard of living, especially those on the lowest possible pay rate who are struggling to pay their way now and can’t live on less.”

Phil says E tū is currently bargaining with two employers about this issue, and it is urging workers who are not currently in a union to join so they are protected.

“Union members know not to sign these contracts and they have the union officials available to advise and represent them.

“However, non-union workers won’t be so sure and may think they have no choice but to agree.  They need to know that is not the case, and if they do sign, they are giving away benefits and a minimum wage increase they desperately need.

“Meanwhile, we would say to employers: don’t do this.  It is unreasonable and unfair, and you are only going to make life more difficult for the most disadvantaged workers who have enough problems already.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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