INDEPENDENT NEWS

Christchurch pallet workers to picket once again

Published: Wed 12 Sep 2018 06:30 PM
Christchurch pallet workers to picket once again over dismal pay rates – food parcels pour in from community
50 Christchurch workers who restore pallets for the distribution of many of New Zealand’s well-known products and who are striking for the third time until Sunday will be holding a picket tomorrow (13/09/2018) over dismal pay and large pay variations between company work sites.
Workers have received food parcels and donations from the community (see PHOTOS) to allow them to carry on their strike action after walking off the job again on Tuesday (4th September).
The crux of the pay problems:
The CHEP Christchurch workers are on low pay rates; a starting rate of $16.56 with a majority of employees on around $17-18 dollars an hour. Members are asking for the company to commit to the Living Wage.
FIRST Union Christchurch Delegate Ian Burrett says workers struggle to survive on the low wage rates (VIDEO below).
“We’re fighting for pay equity we have five different agreements across seven different plants. Also we are really fighting for a fair wage. People are struggling to put food on the table, struggling to heat their homes. We’ve got people paying $550 a week in rent and only earning $17.12 an hour. CHEP employs the Working Poor. You shouldn’t work for 40 hours a week and not be able to feed your children, or pay the rent, or heat your house. It’s just not right. CHEP makes millions and millions... it’s only right we get our fair share back.”
FIRST Union Southern Secretary Paul Watson says it’s a ‘working poor’ scenario.
“These unliveable rates have real life ramifications for these workers that the company cannot, ethically, continue to ignore, especially when it’s bringing in millions a month. We’ve had workers living in cars too, low pay such as this is just companies taking advantage of hard-working New Zealanders. All workers should be able earn a decent living.”
Mr Watson says the pay rise workers are asking for would cost the company about three days profit.
“Brambles is a billion dollar transnational company that has been operating in Aotearoa for many years between its CHEP sites, it’s making good money here but is treating staff unfairly. Its members’ hard labour that is producing those profits and they’re not getting their fair share, let alone enough to live on. CHEP is an employer of the working poor.”
“One member with dependant kids (including grandchildren) isn’t coping on $17.12 / hour and paying $550/week rent. This is the reality of too many workers’ lives and the company needs to wake up to this.”
He adds the labour income share going to wages and salaries is low compared to most other OECD countries and is further decreasing.
“To have a stable and sustainable economy people need to be paid fairly to both increase the spending power of New Zealanders and ensure there’s money in the New Zealand economy, not in overseas bank accounts.”
See VIDEO of Christchurch Delegate Ian Burrett:
https://vimeo.com/289416556
See WORKING PEOPLE’S SHARE OF INCOME – A BRIEF NEW ZEALAND HISTORY
https://www.union.org.nz/economicbulletin190/
ENDS
First Union
Putting Workers First
FIRST Union is New Zealand's second-largest private sector trade union.
Formed in 2011 after the merger between the National Distribution Union and Finsec, FIRST Union represents 27,000 workers in the Finance, Industrial (Textile and Wood), Retail, Stores, Transport and Logistics sectors.
FIRST Union is also affiliated to the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and runs several networks including the Union Network of Migrants, the Runanga, Fono and Womens' Committee. In 2015 FIRST Union launched Samoa First Union, Samoa's only private sector union.
Join FIRST Union today for higher pay, better conditions and more say at work.
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