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Herald Strikes As O’Reilly Visits

New Zealand Herald journalists have walked off the job again today, a strike coinciding with a visit to New Zealand by the Irish owner of Wilson and Horton, Sir Anthony O’Reilly.

About 100 journalists and other editorial staff from throughout the North Island who are members of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union walked out at 2pm. Picket lines were formed outside the Herald’s head office in Auckland to greet O’Reilly.

The strike is over the company’s refusal to negotiate a new collective employment agreement with staff unless the union agrees to permanently exclude 29 senior positions from the agreement.

The company is also demanding greater rights to make its journalists do different jobs and work in other branches of the news media for no extra reward. The company will not even tell staff what jobs it wants them to do, saying it does not know itself yet.

Staff believe that all workers, including supervisors and middle managers, should have the right to choose whether they belong to a union and negotiate their employment conditions collectively. Genuine managers who believe they have a conflict of interest can simply choose not to join a collective by not joining the union.
But that should be their choice; not the company’s and not the union’s.

Sir Anthony is in New Zealand to meet senior management of his company, New Zealand’s second largest newspaper publisher. He is also being installed as a Legend of Eden Park in recognition of his rugby feats.

Staff would like him and his managers to recognise that industrial law has changed in New Zealand and that the Employment Relations Act promotes collective bargaining.

This is not the time for foreign-owned companies to be launching major union-busting attacks on workers who simply want to maintain their bargaining power and working conditions, and receive a fair pay rise.


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