E tū says Sistema’s American owners are determined to preserve the sweatshop conditions established by former owner, Brendan Lindsay who sold the company for $660 million.
The union has been in talks with this wealthy company, seeking better pay and conditions for its mainly migrant workers.
But E tū advocate, Neville Donaldson says Sistema’s multi-billion-dollar owner, Newell Brands refuses to consider anything more than the bare legal minimum.
“They’ve told us they won’t deliver any pay and conditions much more than the law requires for the vast majority of its staff – that’s bare bones minimum wages for workers who are required to work five 12-hour days – that’s 60 hours a week.
“Overtime” rates are just $2 more per hour and is only paid out after 60 hours per week.
“Some people work 12- hour days, seven days a week,” says Neville who accuses Sistema of the systematic exploitation of its predominantly Indian, Filipino and Pasifika workforce.
“They’re predominantly migrants and come from a back ground of having no choice but to accept whatever they are offered,” he says.
“Sistema is exploiting this belief, and the workers as a result.”
E tū delegate, Maria Latu says,” People think they are made to work like robots here. The operators are overworked and the money they get at the end of the week isn’t worth it.
“They deserve better,” she says.
Neville says Sistema is a perfect example of why workers need fair pay agreements.
“Sistema seems proud to be the lowest paid plastics firm in the country, with the worst conditions of employment and the longest hours, whilst lauding the success of its products.
“It must be challenged over its behaviour. If it goes unchallenged, then other employers may feel they also have to reduce pay and conditions to compete.
“Sistema needs to grow a soul and consider what’s fair for workers. The public is growing impatient with wealthy, exploitative companies – and that certainly describes Sistema.”
Neville says the union is looking to mediation next month to break the stalemate.
He says the union has strong support on site, with membership growing to more than 200 as workers grow sick of the long hours, low pay and fatigue of their grinding working week.
For more information, contact:
Neville Donaldson E tū National Industry Strategy Director (Food) ph. 027 543 5312