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Australians lock out NZ shareholders, workers

23 September 2006

Australians lock out New Zealand shareholders, workers

The Green Party welcomed the victory won by New Zealand workers and the National Distribution Union in the face of the aggressive lockout tactics used by the Australian owned Progressive Enterprises, but also deplored how the ANZ Bank had put Feltex into receivership, thus effectively locking out its shareholders and putting the jobs of Feltex workers at risk..

" The key victory that the workforce and its union leadership won at Progressive was pay parity across its three work sites - which means a national collective agreement in everything but name. They won this by staying staunch, and their resolve ultimately convinced Progressive to enter negotiations and concede virtually everything the union was asking for," Green Party Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"The extent of community support was extraordinary, and played a big part in the final outcome. Here we had one of the biggest industrial disputes in New Zealand in over a decade, and yet the community got right behind the workers, and lent them moral and financial support. That message of community sympathy and support is one that employers and their business lobby groups should be taking on board.

" With Feltex, the ANZ's premature action is utterly deplorable. At the very least, Feltex shareholders should have been given the chance to pass their verdict on the alternative bid by the Turner brothers, which claimed to offer a fully funded way of enabling Feltex to trade its way out of its current difficulties, thus saving most of, if not all of the jobs of the company's New Zealand workforce.

The "Yes" bank has, in reality, been shown to be the " No" Bank.. By putting the company into receivership, the ANZ has effectively locked out Feltex's Kiwi investors. By its actions, the ANZ has also opened the door to the possibility that the likes of the Australian firm Godfrey Hirst - which is based in the tax haven of Vanuatu - could come in later, and asset strip the Feltex remains...

"What these two disputes signal loud and clear is the vulnerability of New Zealand firms and workers to the actions of Australian companies and banks that have no interest or commitment to the wellbeing of New Zealanders, and of our communities.

The Progressive workers and their union have shown that a successful fight back can be mounted, and they deserve to be warmly congratulated. With Feltex, all efforts must now go into trying to ensure that the jobs of New Zealand workers are not lost in the fallout. "


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