Workers At Hubbbards Protest
Food workers employed by Hubbards, the flagship company of Social Responsibility advocate, Dick Hubbard, will begin protest action today over their pay and conditions.
The workers have been attempting to negotiate a new collective contract since 23rd February, but have now reached the end of their tolerance. At issue is the provision of a meal allowance for workers working more than two hours overtime, along with an extra week's holiday for shift workers.
"The workers have to do long hours of overtime to earn a living wage. In some cases they're working 60 hours a week," says Darien Fenton, National Secretary of the Service & Food Workers Union, the union for Hubbards workers.
"There is no food available on the job or nearby, so shift workers have to buy food from outside sources, which adds an additional burden to the weekly income of workers who are already paid below food manufacturing standards," she says.
"The huge amount of overtime being required also adds pressure to the family lives of the workers, who are mostly Pacific Island people from the poor community of Mangere."
Semisi Ma'afu, a worker at Hubbards says, "Hubbards want to control our lives. They think our lives should revolve around the factory and we should be waiting at home for a call to do extra overtime. We have to do the overtime, because we can't live on our base wage. We think the least they can do is provide us with a living wage."
"We've tried to talk to the company, but their attitude seems to be that we shouldn't complain and should be grateful to have a job," says Semisi. "We see Dick Hubbard all the time on TV and read about how well he treats his workers in the paper, but to us it doesn't add up."
Darien Fenton says that the right to organise into unions and the right to good faith bargaining are paramount for workers to have fair wages and conditions and this situation has exposed the problems with the Employment Contracts Act (ECA). "The ECA leaves workers with nowhere to go if they can't settle issues with their employer," she says.
The workers will hold a protest picket at 10.30am outside Hubbards, 39 Mahunga Drive on Monday, 27th March.