Month: August 2019

Cloud Ocean job losses “disappointing” says E tū

E tū, the union at Cloud Ocean, says it met today with site management and its union delegates to discuss the company proposal to lay off 125 of the 160 strong work force.

E tū Industry Coordinator (Manufacturing & Food), Phil Knight says the company has been difficult to work with but it’s disappointing things have come to this.

“This is hard news for the workers, and we will be talking with our members about a response to the proposal, and doubtless seeking compensation for the loss of their jobs and income, as well as commitments around re-employment should the plant resume operations,” says Phil.

He says he’s hopeful most workers will find jobs in the event the plant shuts down.

“They’re good workers and any of the businesses crying out for people with a good work ethic and production skills would benefit from offering them employment.”

Phil says the union has no view on the controversy surrounding the company’s use of water from the local aquifer.

“The thing for us is whether they’ve been a fair and reasonable employer and contributed to the Christchurch economy, and the fact is they haven’t,” says Phil.

“These are permanent workers on pretty much minimum wages and conditions, and the work is precarious – they’ve faced constant changes of shift and shift cancellations at short notice.

“It’s had a high turnover because of the very poor conditions,” he says.

Phil says the company seems to have been disorganised from the start.

“There appears to have been little due diligence to ensure they had a market to supply, to as well as what’s required to run a business in New Zealand. They’ve been applying practices that may be commonplace in China but not acceptable in New Zealand.”

Phil says that includes constant breaches of health and safety, basic employment conditions and Holiday Act provisions.

Phil acknowledged few in Canterbury will be sad to hear the plant is likely to close.

“Besides wages, Cloud Ocean has contributed little to Christchurch, with materials including the plastic bottles, boxes and equipment all imported from overseas.

“But there is an opportunity to at least ensure any worker losing their job through this is treated right, and to look after staff properly if they do get production underway again.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator (Manufacturing & Food) ph. 027 591 0053

E tū urges NZTA to lift funding for VTNZ

E tū has written to Mark Ratcliffe, the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Transport Agency, urging the Agency to improve funding for VTNZ so its workers can be fairly paid.

VTNZ driving test and vehicle testing officials took strike action on Monday for 24 hours in protest over their pay.

The driving test officials earn between $21.00 and $22.50, which members say doesn’t reflect their skills and experience, nor the on the job hazards. Vehicle testing officials also earn below the industry standard.

E tū Lead Organiser, Dayna Townsend says driving test officials have been trying to improve their basic pay scale since 2014 when NZTA awarded the driver testing contract to VTNZ.

Before then, Dayna says the AA had the contract “and the starting rate for driving testers was higher then than the highest paid rate for them now. As well as the higher pay, they had allowances which also boosted their pay.

“Vehicle testers are also at the bottom of the mechanics scale.

“NZTA funding for VTNZ is too low to ensure these workers are fairly paid,” says Dayna.

“This is a huge problem for our members wherever services are contracted out to private companies. Typically, government agencies chose the lowest tender and it is workers who pay the price for that, through low pay.”

Dayna says NZTA has been asked to increase the funding for VTNZ so it can lift pay rates to a more realistic level.

“These are government workers, doing the government’s job of keeping people safe on the roads. They should be fairly paid and that means paying contractors enough to ensure that happens,” she says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Dayna Townsend E tū Lead Organiser ph. 027 590 0070

VTNZ workers to strike over low pay

VTNZ driving test and vehicle testing officials will take strike action for 24 hours on Monday 5 August, in protest over their poor pay.

The strike takes effect just after midnight (12.01am) tonight nationwide.  

E tū advocate, Sunny Sehgal says E tū’s VTNZ driver testing members are qualified professionals who do a dangerous job, but that’s not reflected in their wages.

“The pay is between $21.00 and $22.50 an hour, which may look good to some people, but it’s a skilful job. And it’s hazardous. They are in a car with people who may not be competent to drive,” he says.

Since 2014, VTNZ has been run by German company Dekra, which members say has consistently resisted improving their pay scales.   

E tū member, Harun Ali says he’s a trained and qualified professional who has to manage multiple risks on the job “but the pay doesn’t recognise that.

 “I have a passion for this job. It’s something I love to do, but it’s risky,” says Harun, who has 14 years of experience as a driver testing official.  

“Drivers are often poorly prepared. There are a lot of accidents and a lot of us are being hurt. We face people who come out of jail, who are very threatening.

“We’ve been chased around the cars, bullied and threatened. A lot of times we end up calling the cops.”

Sunny says VTNZ mechanics are also qualified tradesmen whose pay rates are well below the industry standard.

Mediation has failed to resolve the dispute, leaving members little choice but to walk off the job, he said.

“Members are only asking for a fair increase to their wages to properly value their work and to cover the growing costs of housing, fuel and food.”

ENDS

The members will be picketing on Monday morning.

Where: Sylvia Park VTNZ site, 5 Sylvia Park Road, Mount Wellington, Auckland

When: from 8am-midday.

For further information, contact:

Sunny Sehgal E tū organiser ph. 027 590 0075

We can provide contact details for Harun for interested media.

Union to consider industry training changes

The following statement by E tū National Secretary, Bill Newson is in response to the industry changes related to polytechnics and on the job training announced today.

“The changes proposed today are significant for working people.

“Industry training is important for working people as life-long employment and income security depends on the ability to continually develop skills at work and have those skills recognised across industry. Training at work while in employment – ‘earning while you learn’ – is important for working people especially those who can’t afford to rack up a big student debt.

“Today’s announcement is complex, the devil is in the detail and we will be reviewing the proposals carefully.  Providing an industry voice through Workforce Development Councils is good, as is the transitionary approach to change.  However, E tū’s concern is that on the job training is not compromised over time to shore up Polytechnic viability.  We will be taking the time to assess the changes carefully.”