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.”
For more information, contact:
Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator (Manufacturing & Food) ph. 027 591 0053