Locked-out lines workers discussing options
Press release by Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, February 4, 2006
Fifty-eight lines workers in northern-most New Zealand have been locked out by their employer. Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that Top Energy locked the workers out at midnight last night, and they had no idea when they would be able to return to work.
"We are extremely disappointed that the company has gone ahead with this action, which threatens the electricity supply to homes and businesses north of Kawakawa," he said.
"We've made enormous efforts to settle the dispute, including taking part in mediation and agreeing to a programme of modernising the collective agreement, but the company seems determined to push ahead with its agenda to cut pay and conditions."
Mr Little said that while Top Energy had failed to give the union a full list of claims, it was understood that clawbacks the company wanted to impose included a standard 45-hour week with no overtime pay instead of the current 40 hour-week, and to cut the lunch hour back to half an hour.
"This is a highly-skilled industry with a chronic labour shortage," Mr Little said.
"Hundreds of New Zealand lines workers have already been lured by countries offering much better pay and conditions, and it's this sort of action by Top Energy that will send more of them lost overseas."
Top Energy is a community-owned trust. The locked out workers are meeting today to discuss their situation and possible actions.