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More former Sistema workers blow whistle on conditions

12 September, 2016


More former Sistema workers blow whistle on working conditions

More former Sistema workers have come forward to speak out against the poor pay and conditions at Sistema.

Sistema’s mainly migrant process workers are required to work five 12-hour shifts – a 60-hour week – for the minimum wage. Some work more than 70 hours a week.

A former worker, Mandheer Aulakh has gone public about needing Panadol for the pain caused by long hours on Sistema’s factory floor.

Other former workers confirm this is common.

“It is the overnight work that is the main problem. Everybody takes painkillers all night”, says one worker.

“Those long shifts – people take painkillers, Panadol because working for minimum wage: that’s a problem,” says another.

Workers suffer back injuries from heavy lifting; swollen hands as well as finger and thumb injuries from working with the product clips and seals; neck and shoulder pain as well as leg and back pain from standing for 12 hours shifts.

Joseph Costello, who is from Ireland, worked for nearly a month at Sistema, describing the conditions as “inhumane”, and the experience as a “nightmare”.

Joseph suffered hand injuries after long hours working with Sistema’s famous container lids.

“My hands were in bits going home. If I had kept it up for more than a few weeks, I could have done some serious damage”, says Joseph.

No seating was provided and “staff are expected to stand at every single work station for shifts of 12 hours”, he says.

“I went home with back pains every single day. The only sighting of a chair was at the supervisors’ desk or in the lunchroom”.

He says the pace was relentless and he ended each day exhausted – as did his work colleagues.

“I kept thinking to myself, how on earth is this operation allowed? For many staff this was their life 12 hours a day, five and six days a week. People were absolutely exhausted.”

Anita Rosentreter, E tū’s Manufacturing Industry Co-ordinator says Joseph believes New Zealanders would not accept the exploitation happening at Sistema and E tū agrees.

“Sistema must act to improve wages and conditions for its workers”, she says.


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