Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


NZ Workers Band Together Against Aussie Corporate

NZ Workers Band Together Against Aussie Corporate

NDU national secretary Laila Harre with locked out supermarket workers Quentin Thompson and Carly Pedersen in the background

The crude use of the power of a corporate against vulnerable workers was how Ross Wilson, the Council of Trade Unions president described the battle between the locked out supermarket workers and their boss Progressive Enterprises – Progressive's parent company is the Australian corporate giant Woolworths.

Mr Wilson and National Distribution Union national secretary Laila Harre told the media that they were engaged in a David And Goliath struggle with the Australian corporate giant and that the tactics of Progressive Enterprises were to starve its New Zealand workers into submission.

Locked out workers Carl Skivington, Darren Johnson and Quentin Thompson now have the not only the entire NZ union movement behind them but also many Australian unions actively and financially supporting their struggle with Progressive Enterprises

This afternoon the unions that have been on the front lines in the battle for a collective agreement - the NDU and the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing union - were joined in their battle against Woolworth Australia's NZ subsidiary Progressive Enterprises by the entire New Zealand union movement.

Donations of money to assist the locked out NZ workers were also coming into union coffers from fellow workers in Australia. At an emergency meeting in Wellington various union delegates from across New Zealand heard how an Australian transport union had already donated $10,000 to assist the Kiwi workers who have been locked out of the workforce for more than two weeks.

After the NDU took industrial action in late August Progressive Enterprises issued lockout notices to all the striking workers that stopped them from rejoining the workforce until they gave up on their claim for a national collective agreement.

The action taken by Progressive Enterprises was a feature of employer behaviour through the early 1990s but one that had rarely been seen since the late 1990s.according to Mr Wilson

NDU national secretary Laila Harre explained that the NDU was in touch with unions in the United States who had been fighting against US corporate Walmart who - according to Ms Harre - went so far as to close a supermarket where workers had won the right to join a union. Ms Harre also explained to the media that the anti-union Walmart and Woolworths Australia had a management exchange program.

Every single course of action was being explored by the NZCTU according to Mr Wilson.

"I think they should be seriously considering how the impact on their reputation as an employer in NZ is going to impact on their business interests here," warned Ms Harre.

Customers of Foodtown, Woolworths and Countdown were also urged by various union delegates to boycott these supermarkets. Earlier this week the Green Party also called for a boycott of supermarkets owned by Progressive Enterprises.

The NZ union movement is prepared to battle it out with Australian company Progressive Enterprises for as long as it takes to win according to todays' media conference

The Maritime Union has swung in behind the locked out workers offering "practical" assistance

"It's just a game for the management who get paid fat salaries - and can afford full page ads - but it is the low paid workers in this battle who are putting themselves on the line to ensure a decent income for their families," said Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson in a press statement.

Mr Hanson was referring to Progressive Enterprises ability to wage a well-funded PR campaign against the locked out workers.

The pay of Woolworths Australian CEO Roger Corbett was alleged to be more than $8 million dollars per annum and the profits from New Zealand supermarkets a big part of the highly profitable Australian company.

Progressive Enterprises today threatened that any action the Maritime Union took to disrupt supplies of goods would be "irresponsible".

" [It would be] a very serious matter for the nation when third parties not involved in industrial action are unlawfully impeded in their rights to go about their daily business. Were this action to proceed we would regard it as irresponsible," said Progressive Enterprises in a press statement.

Quentin Thompson and Carly Pedersen – NZ Communities are being split by the lockout

Relations on the frontlines of the picket were causing tension between workers with some of the locked out workers explaining to media that they no longer spoke to (former) friends that had buckled under financial pressure and signed away their right to a collective agreement.


Listen to the full media conference with Ross Wilson and Laila Harre initially taking questions followed by the locked out workers:

Scoop Audio.Scoop Streaming Audio: Union conference regarding locked out workers and Progressive Enterprises

Click here to download file (mp3)


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news