December 1, 1006
Nelson power workers take industrial action
Nelson electricity workers whose boss won’t give them a pay rise are refusing to do overtime or out-of-town work.
Thirty-six workers at network maintenance company United Group launched industrial action yesterday in frustration at the company’s constant refusal to agree to a pay rise, despite long hours of negotiation and mediation.
“It is, quite simply, unbelievable that a major, profitable Australasian company like United Group thinks it can get away with a zero pay rise,” said Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little.
“Many of these workers haven’t had a pay rise in four years, and they’re saying enough is enough.”
Most of the workers were on about $20 an hour, compared to around $26 an hour for comparable trades, he said.
“This is a highly skilled industry, and there is a world-wide shortage of personnel. Other countries are actively recruiting in New Zealand for people with these skills. United risks losing staff if it doesn’t get serious about its pay rates.”
Mr Little said that the industrial action was limited at this stage.
“The guys are not doing any overtime and they’re not going away on overnight work,” he said.
“We hope that that be will enough to make the company see sense.”
Workers rostered for emergency fault work would turn out, but could not call out anyone else, Mr Little said.