Author: E tū

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Meanwhile he says the normal hustle and bustle of the factory floor has been replaced by a disquieting silence.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.

Cleaners at Auckland meat works muzzled

Cleaning contractor, ISS has gagged the cleaners at Auckland Meat Processors, to stop them speaking out against cuts to a third of the plant’s cleaning staff.

AMP is owned by Wilson Hellaby which the cleaners have been told is behind the cuts.

Five of the 15-strong cleaning team received letters last week telling them they are now redundant and offering them redeployment options.

The cleaners believe the cuts will compromise hygiene standards at the plant and they want to go public.

However, they have been told not to speak to media, and they fear for their jobs.

Senior Organiser, Len Richards says most of Auckland’s beef supply is processed at the plant and Countdown is its major customer.

“This is a major meat supplier and it’s disgraceful that the cleaners have been muzzled to stop them airing legitimate worries about the safety of these cuts,” says Len.

He says the redundant workers have been offered casual work at the plant which suggests these are not genuine redundancies.

“It seems their real intention is to axe the secure, full-time jobs these workers had and to casualise them, so it can save money on decent conditions like sick leave and holiday pay.

“For this wealthy company to target its lowest paid, most vulnerable workers this way is miserable.”

Other jobs offered to the redundant cleaners are for only up to 25 hours a week, which the cleaners can’t live on.

“This whole episode is disgraceful,” says Len.

“We would urge Wilson Hellaby to advise ISS that the cuts are no longer required and to reinstate these workers.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Len Richards E tū Senior organiser, ph. 027 204 6338

We can put media in touch with cleaners who are prepared to speak anonymously.

New Zealander of the Year urges women to “reach high”

New Zealander of the Year, and E tū’s equal pay hero, Kristine Bartlett has marked International Women’s Day with a message to women fighting for equal pay.

“Stand up for what you believe is right and fair and reach high,” says Kristine.

Kristine, who led the campaign for pay equity for care and support workers, says the historic settlement won last year has lifted pay for these predominantly female workers and set a precedent for other women.

That includes early childhood workers who will today be among those presenting the Council of Trade Union’s Treat Her Right equal pay petition to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Dr Jackie Blue.

“I had a chat with them about a year ago and they acknowledged I’d given them inspiration to fight, and I said, that’s what you’ve got to do if you want something and you deserve it.

“Never give up.  Keep going the way I did the last five years, along with my union.”

Kristine is delighted that this year, International Women’s Day coincides with the global campaign by women against sexual harassment. She says in many ways 2018 is the year of women.

“I’m just so pleased about that – I can say “#MeToo” because I’ve been down that road as well,” she says.

“It’s just so important that we’re starting to do something positive and encouraging people not to be afraid but to speak the truth and let people know what’s going on and what we’ve been through.

“We need a bit of respect in our lives and we deserve it. #MeToo is great – all over the world women are getting the courage to speak up.”

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

 

Workers come forward to Chorus inquiry

E tū says more workers are coming forward to report labour abuses to the Labour Inspectorate lead investigation into Chorus contractors and subcontractors working on the ultrafast broadband network.

The investigation began just before Christmas, following reports of exploitative practices by Chorus subcontractors in Nelson where people worked for free, as so-called volunteers.

E tū’s Industry Coordinator Communications, Joe Gallagher says the union is working closely with the Labour Inspectorate, and a number of workers have been interviewed.

“We’ve been very encouraged by the number of people coming forward. We are working with them, ensuring they have contact with the Inspectorate to get this information into the investigation,” says Joe.

He cites reports from workers, including many migrants, which reveal a litany of illegal work practices.

They include illegal pay deductions, underpayment of wages or no payment for so-called ‘volunteers’, as well as health and safety breaches, no annual leave and sick leave, and inadequate equipment.

For many, the work is a way to meet immigration requirements for work permits and residency, but Joe says that’s left people vulnerable to exploitation.

“We saw the early cases come through in Nelson, but in Auckland alone there are 900 subcontractors to Chorus contractors, Visionstream and UCG. The potential scale of the problem is huge,” he says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

 

Malaysian labour scam industry wake-up call

E tū is urging the construction industry to get its house in order after revelations of a scam involving undocumented Malaysian construction workers.

Union Industry Coordinator, Ron Angel says the scam is symptomatic of how easy it is to lose control these days of just who is working on building sites.

“People are calling this third-tier subcontracting but actually, these are fourth-tier subcontractors and the situation is out of control.

“Construction firms have come to rely on them due to labour shortages, but they are a risk. Hundreds of these workers were here undocumented, with no monitoring of their pay and conditions, and probably no labour protection of any sort,” says Ron.

“This rort is a wake-up call for contractors and project managers to monitor their sites and their workforce properly. This industry needs to get its house in order.”

Ron says the situation strengthens the case for directly employing workers as well as providing standardised wages and training.

“If it applies to everyone, then there’s a level playing fields,” he says.

Ron says there are also obvious concerns about the exploitation by unscrupulous agents of visitor visa arrangements with Malaysia.

“You would have to worry that so many people could evade basic security checks by slipping into the country in this way, including using false names.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Ron Angel E tū Industry Coordinator Engineering and Infrastructure ph. 027 591 0055

Workers gutted as ABCorp confirms closure

E tū is extremely disappointed with the confirmation today that the plastic card manufacturer, ABCorp is to close its Christchurch plant.

About 50 workers will lose their jobs after the company confirmed it was moving operations at the plant to Australia.

“We’re gutted about this,” says Joe Gallagher, E tū’s Industry Coordinator, Communications.

“The workers knew what was coming but that doesn’t make it any easier. These are good jobs with reasonable pay and conditions and that’s hard to find these days,” says Joe.

Joe says the union will be doing all it can to support the workers ahead of closure, which is scheduled for the end of March.

ABCorp Christchurch is one of several local firms to shut its doors and relocate across the Tasman, including Cadbury and Auckland company, Pastry House.

“These companies come over here, they create expectations for the people working for them, but there’s no loyalty. They lose a major contract or two, as happened here and just decide to move on,” Joe says.

However, he has reiterated the union’s view that the Government can help support local specialist firms through its procurement processes.

“ABCorp lost a major Government transport contract and several others.  This Government is committed to local workers and their families. We think that includes helping support local businesses producing quality products through Government procurement contracts where appropriate.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:
Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator Communications ph. 027 591 0015

 

Scale of Fletcher debacle “gobsmacking”

The construction union, E tū says it is working to clarify the effect of Fletcher Building and Interiors’ huge loss on its members at Fletchers as well as the wider industry.

“We’re still coming to terms with the fact that the country’s biggest building company is no longer bidding for new commercial projects which is just extraordinary,” says Ron Angel, E tū’s Industry Coordinator, Engineering and Infrastructure.

“We’re trying to confirm the facts of what happens next, but we will have members affected by this though it’s unclear yet how many,” he says.

Ron says union organisers had this morning visited Fletcher sites in Christchurch office, where members had been told to expect closure once work is finished on company projects including the city’s Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.

“In the immediate term, we’ll be looking to protect our members’ interests and we hope if there are redundancies that our members can be redeployed in other Fletcher divisions. Some will be entitled to redundancy pay; others won’t.”

Ron says the union had also spoken with members about the factors behind the near-$1 billion loss.

“In part, this is a result of too many people in head office doing the paperwork and pushing up overheads, and too few people on the ground doing the work,” says Ron.

He says a lack of experience in project management also meant a lot of mistakes especially on the Justice precinct project.

“Our members have told us that 50 percent of that project was built twice.

“The guys say they’d put stuff up and a week later they’d be pulling it down again because the design changed or there were design faults, cracked tiles and the like. And there was too little supervision, with no one taking responsibility for the quality of the work.”

Poor cost control had also been flagged by the division’s retiring Chair, Sir Ralph Norris.

Ron says the loss is “a salutary indictment of the sub-contracting model which is killing the construction industry in New Zealand.

“It means Fletchers has been unable to control costs and quality on these big projects and the result is just gobsmacking.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Ron Angel E tū Industry Coordinator, Engineering and Infrastructure ph. 027 591 0055

 

 

Equal pay deal for mental health support workers

The Council of Trade Unions, the Public Service Association and E tū welcome the Government’s commitment to equal pay for mental health and addiction support workers.

Health Minister Dr David Clark says his ministry will now begin formal negotiations with unions, providers and District Health Boards.

An estimated 3800 working people were excluded from last year’s care and support settlement after the National government refused to include them in negotiations.

“This is good news for working people who were left out of last year’s landmark care and support settlement,” CTU President Richard Wagstaff says.

“When government, ministries and unions work together, great outcomes can be achieved – and we look forward to fruitful negotiations.”

Unions expect these negotiations to occur with urgency, to extend the full terms of the care and support settlement to people working in mental health and addiction support.

“Our members in mental health and addiction support will be encouraged by today’s announcement,” PSA Assistant National Secretary Kerry Davies says.

“This proves to them that the work they do is valued – and so are the vulnerable people who they support every day.”

Unions say many workers in mental health and addiction support had considered moving to other types of care and support work where pay rates have increased after the settlement.

“We hope all the parties can work together to get this settlement in place for mental health and addiction support workers,” E tū Assistant National Secretary John Ryall says.

“The care and support settlement showed what a difference equal pay can make to the lives of these workers – but it’s not equal if it’s not for everyone.”

ENDS

For more information contact:

Jessica Williams | Media Advisor, PSA

Email: [email protected], Tel: +64 (0)4 816 5028, Mobile: +64 (0)27 600 5498

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