Month: April 2022

Workers to lose jobs as major part of Auckland printing plant set to close

More than 100 workers will lose their jobs when a large proportion of the production at Auckland-based printing plant Ovato will stop for good at the end of April.

On Tuesday, the company announced that around 150 workers will be made redundant from its heatset printing arm of the business in Wiri, which produces products such as commercial catalogues and magazines.

Ovato, whose Christchurch branch closed in September last year, has been greatly affected by factors such as the global increase in paper prices, reduced demand, and the flow-on effect of Norske Skog, a major paper supplier in Kawerau, shutting.

Now, the company will only retain a smaller sheetfed production line at its Auckland plant.

Site delegate Owen Sinclair says the workers are in shock.

“Some have worked here for between 20-30 years. People are now going to have to work through what their entitlements are and when they’re going to finish,” he says.

“We’ll continue to work with the company to make sure we get that clarity for members.”

About 60% of those losing their jobs are E tū members.

E tū negotiation specialist Joe Gallagher says the situation for workers at Ovato is a perfect example of the flow-on effect of ruptured local supply chains.

“When a key player in Ovato’s supply chain – the Kawerau paper mill – closed, this left the company reliant on imported paper.

“Importing paper is not only expensive due to the huge increase in shipping costs, but there’s around a seven-month wait time to get paper from Europe.”

He says companies also face the risk that the price of what they’re shipping could also increase again while in transit, due to the impact of the Covid crisis overseas.

With similar situations taking place in other local industries, Joe says it’s critical to ensure that Just Transition plans are put in place to protect workers.

“We need to work together with companies and workers to get the best outcome for workers, as certain industries wind down and others ramp up.

“A Just Transition means things like creating plans for workers to retrain if necessary and to support them to transfer their existing skills to other roles. Initiatives such as the Government’s proposal for a national income insurance scheme, New Zealand Income Insurance, could also assist with this.”

Joe says there needs to be a longer-term view on maintaining local suppliers so domestic industries remain viable.

“If we rely solely on imported goods, this leaves us at the mercy of the international market to pay the asking price for those goods, which then ultimately trickles down to the working New Zealander.”


For more information and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

Workers rejoice as Fair Pay Agreement Bill gets First Reading

The First Reading of the Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) Bill in Parliament today has been met by applause from low-paid workers across the country.

The bill will enable workers and their unions to negotiate minimum pay and conditions with their employers, which will then become minimum standards for the whole industry.

E tū member and security guard, Kajal Mani, is thrilled.

“As a young mother and a security guard, I am very excited to have Fair Pay Agreements here in Aotearoa,” Kajal says.

“It will mean better work conditions to keep me safe, to return home to my young family. It will mean fair wages so that I don’t have to work long hours, which supports holistic health and wellbeing for all.

“FPAs will also mean equality for all workers and effective partnership between unions and good employers to stop the race to the bottom.”

E tū member and cleaner, Madeleine Natua, agrees.

“Introducing Fair Pay Agreements will help a lot the lowest paid workers and our families, as it will set a benchmark in improving our terms and conditions to stop the race to the bottom,” Madeleine says.

“For so long, 30 years or so, New Zealand has been a low wage economy. Fair Pay Agreements will help lift Aotearoa to a high wage economy, and when workers are paid more, they will feel valued and appreciated.

“Long term, this will help lift hard working Kiwis, their whanau, and their communities out of poverty, which will also benefit everyone, including local businesses.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary, Annie Newman, says that the Fair Pay Agreements Bill gets right to the heart of the issues facing workers like Kajal and Madeleine.

“Today is an exciting and historic day for Aotearoa,” Annie says.

“The Fair Pay Agreements Bill sets out a comprehensive framework for finally getting some of our lowest paid and most vulnerable workers the respect and dignity they deserve at their jobs.

“It means more time with family, more money for food, rent, and other expenses, better access to health and safety, better training, and much more.

“It gives workers and employers the flexibility to negotiate fair minimum standards properly and means that good employers won’t be undercut by cowboys, who win contracts by giving their workers the lowest possible wages and conditions.

“Along with commitments to the New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme, the Living Wage, and a Just Transition, Fair Pay Agreements show that this Government really is transformational.”


For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340