September 5, 2005
Engineering co dispute escalates
A dispute at a major New Zealand engineering company is escalating, with the company locking out workers this morning.
One hundred and forty workers at the Southward Engineering plant at Seaview in Wellington are on strike in the wake of the lock-out, with workers at the Auckland plant due to hold a stop-work meeting at lunchtime.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that 13 workers at the Seaview plant were issued with notices of indefinite lock-out when they arrived at work at 8am. Other workers then walked off the job and are now picketing the plant.
Mr Little said that it appeared that the lock-outs were in retaliation for a load-out ban which had been operating at the plant for two-and-a-half weeks.
“Workers at this company are involved in a dispute with their employers over the failure to settle their collective agreement,” he said.
“There has been low-level action in place at the Seaview plant, in the form of workers refusing to load trucks. The company has now escalated the dispute by locking out some workers, but it should be aware that attempts to divide and conquer this workforce will fail.”
Mr Little said that workers at the Seaview plant would stand by the locked-out workers, and that workers at the Auckland plant would hold a stop-work meeting at 12.30pm to discuss what action they might take.
The workers are seeking a five per cent pay rise. The company has offered a 4.2 per cent rise, but wants to cut shift workers’ pay by $2 an hour.
The company was founded by Len Southward (owner of the Southward car museum) in 1938 and was bought by the Australian-based Atlas Group in 2004. It is New Zealand’s largest manufacturer of automotive exhaust systems.