April 10, 2002
Workers at Christchurch’s largest manufacturing plant are preparing to be locked out of their jobs for weeks.
American-owned Generalcable has locked out its entire workforce of 250 at the Riccarton plant in a dispute over pay.
The company has told the workers that it has made its final offer – a two per cent pay rise and a payment recognising production gains that will save the company $300,000 a year.
The workers are all members of the EPMU. The union’s assistant South Island regional secretary, Bernard McIlhone, said that they knew the dispute would be long and hard.
“They know what they’re up against,” he said. “Generalcable is a multi-national company that has decided it wants to cut wages at its New Zealand plant. It has told us that all pay rises from now on will be no more than the rate of inflation – a move that will effectively drive wages down. The workers rejected the offer and staged a short strike. Now they have been locked out and the company no longer wants to talk to them.”
Generalcable makes cables for contruction, electrical and telecommunications work. Mr McIlhone said that workers were seeking a four per cent pay rise, which was what had been paid at the only other cablemaking plant in New Zealand, Olex in New Plymouth.
“Two per cent is well below settlements in the manufacturing industry,” he said. “Workers in the plastics industry got a pay rise of 3.5%, the metals and manufacturing collective agreement, which covers more than 2000 workers, has been settled at three per cent, and most other workers are getting at least that,” he said.
The Generalcable workers will picket the factory tomorrow. All work at the factory has stopped.