Stand strong in any language
Lavina Rickard is a delegate at Sanford mussel processing plant in Havelock. She’s been a union member since the early 2000s and enjoys her role as a team leader on the cleaning shift.
Lavina has ten years’ experience as a delegate and has enjoyed using the skills learnt through union education opportunities and involvement on her Industry Council. “I’ve found the training awesome and have met a lot of good and different people through the union,” she says.
One of the big steps Lavina took was to support migrant workers at her workplace by getting union recruitment material translated into different languages.
“At Sanford’s Havelock, we have a lot of migrant workers. Many of them speak English as a second language, which makes recruiting hard for a start. Sometimes you can get lost in translation.
“I have got French, Portuguese, Hindi, Chinese, and Samoan. I’m still waiting on some others. We need to get the message out there, so it’s good to have as many languages as we can. It’s a slow process, but a couple of my fellow Industry Council members are helping me out with it.
“I’m asking people I work with to help with translations, as well as using other connections I have.”
Lavina says migrant workers often don’t know their rights and are afraid that raising issues could threaten their visas.
“I’ve talked to people in the past and told them that they are due a pay rise, but they’ve been too shy to go to the boss because they are on a working visa. I’ve told them this has nothing to do with the visa.”
Lavina joined the E tū Manufacturing and Food Industry Council this year. She enjoys the role because it gives her contact with other delegates from similar workplaces.
“I keep in touch with people from Sealord, King Salmon, and places like that, to see what’s happening on their worksites. We look at what’s happening in the industry and talk about any changes.”
Lavina knows that the workers in the seafood industry deserve better pay and Sanford’s can afford to pay it.
”Sanford’s is doing really well. $42.3 million profit this year! When we heard that, we were like ‘what? Where is our pay rise! Come on’.”
The Living Wage is on the agenda for Sanford workers. Lavina is happy to see her fellow Sanford E tū members down in Bluff leading the charge with the launch of the Living Wage Bluff Network.
Sanfords employs a lot of temps and has high turnover.
But that doesn’t stop Lavina recruiting as many as she can. She has one message for her fellow E tū members: “Stand strong.”