October 14, 2005
Public support is
Striking telecoms workers say they have been overwhelmed by public support.
About 400 Transfield employees around the country are taking industrial action today over what they say is an insulting pay offer of two per cent.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little, who has been on the picket-line in Auckland this morning, said that public support was tremendous.
“We’re handing out leaflets, and people are taking them away and reading them,” he said.
“We’re getting toots of support and lots of goodwill; people understand that these are high-skilled and hardworking New Zealanders who are entitled to fair wages.”
Transfield is one of two contracting companies who supply lines and maintenance services to telecommunications giant Telecom.
Mr Little said that the workers’ wages had been heavily eroded over the past decade or so, and they were determined to start marking up lost ground.
“A five per cent rise is the going rate this year, and if anybody deserves it, they do,” he said.
The workers are also seeking overtime rates.
“These people are out in the worst conditions imaginable fixing phone lines,” Mr Little said. “It’s only fair that they be paid extra.”
Details of industrial action are:
1. A 24-hour strike today by
electrical workers in Christchurch and Invercargill, and
telecommunications workers in Blenheim, Nelson, Wellington,
Taumarunui, Taihape, Rotorua, Whakatane, Hamilton and
Auckland, with pickets in most towns.
2. A 24-hour strike on Monday by telecommunications workers in Hamilton.
3. From Monday, a ban on overtime, callouts and standby work, and in some cases bans on travelling away from home, in Auckland, Hamilton, Whakatane, Rotorua, Taihape, Taumarunui, Wanganui, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Timaru and Invercargill.