Category: Manufacturing and food

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

 

 

E tū bitterly disappointed over demise of Kiwi-made Cadbury

The union, E tū is highly critical of the decision by Mondelez International to move all production of Cadbury products from its Dunedin production plant to Australia.

E tū’s Director of Industries, Neville Donaldson says the decision will be bitterly disappointing for the more than 300 Dunedin workers who will lose their jobs.

“Mondelez has shown no compunction about closing a very profitable factory in Dunedin at the cost of quality, full-time jobs for New Zealand workers,” says Neville.

“There are companies which would have given their right arm to be able to run the Cadbury factory and enjoy the profits it was making when the decision was made to close, he says.

Mondelez had said some local production of iconic kiwi brands might continue if it found a suitable manufacturer, but today said that wasn’t possible.

However, Neville says the union is sceptical about whether Mondelez ever intended to find an alternative local manufacturer.

“We do question whether there was a genuine effort to keep that work here.  What was that exercise really about? Was it about trying to keep 10 percent of that production in New Zealand – or was it really about brand-protection and easing public anger over this closure?

“We had hoped for better, but it’s no surprise things have turned out as they have, given Mondelez’s record overseas,” says Neville.

Neville says New Zealand consumers might now want to consider where they spend their money when it comes to a sweet treat.

“The question is, will they support Mondelez moving its operation overseas at the cost of Kiwi jobs, or should they buy Kiwi-made products and support jobs for Kiwi workers?”

Neville says Dunedin has lost more than 800 full-time, well-paid manufacturing jobs in recent years with the closure of the Hillside Railway workshops, Fisher and Paykel, Sealord and now Cadbury.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

E tū extremely disappointed with MBIE report on cheap Chinese steel

E tū is extremely disappointed with a report which has found there is little evidence of steel dumping in New Zealand by China.

The report details the findings of an enquiry by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment into a complaint by NZ Steel that imported Chinese galvanised steel coil is subsidised, making it hard for New Zealand steel producers to compete.

The report found no evidence of anything more than “minimal” subsidies, with the government announcing it won’t act on the complaint.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says there are serious questions about the rigour of the research underpinning the report.

“Only one Chinese manufacturer responded to questions from the enquiry about subsidies. The Chinese government barely responded either, claiming its steel producers wouldn’t cooperate.

“MBIE admits its findings rest on “very limited information”, their words – then tells us that “on that basis”, it concludes that the Chinese subsidies are minimal.

“This isn’t just disappointing. It’s frightening that the livelihoods of entire communities rest on this poor-quality enquiry and report which shrugs off the failure of key players to answer questions at the heart of the NZ Steel’s complaint.”

Joe says the government’s refusal to act is also “a further kick in the guts” for local steel producers who also face pressure from Emissions Trading Scheme charges and the threat of big price hikes by power industry lines companies.

“There is clear evidence of an over-supply of steel coming in from China at below market prices,” says Joe.

“There are no proper quality checks in China to make sure this steel is of the proper standard, such as are required of NZ Steel, and equally, there are no tariffs on these products.

“It’s not a level playing field,” he says.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015.