February 12, 2003
Talks start in the
Workers want longer leave
Bargaining has started in the country's largest private-sector industrial agreement - the Metals and Manufacturing Industries Agreement.
Negotiators for the EPMU and the Employers and Manufacturers' Association, representing the workers and employers at 45 "original parties" companies, are holding talks in Auckland today.
Workers are claiming a fourth week's leave and a five per cent pay rise, as well as better bereavement and sick leave and higher minimum rates of pay.
The Metals and Manufacturing Industries Collective Agreement covers more than 2000 workers at more than 200 companies directly, and many thousands more indirectly. The current agreement is due to expire next month.
At a rally in Auckland yesterday, more than 300 workers strongly endorsed the claims - especially a fourth week's leave.
Union national secretary Andrew Little said that there was plenty of evidence that workers were working harder and longer than they ever had, and needed more time off with their families.
"We promised the Government there would be a political and industrial campaign over the fourth week's leave," he said. "Well, here it is. This issue will not go away."