April 15, 2002
Workers locked out of a Christchurch factory have called in the police to help them to recover thousands of dollars worth of personal property being held by the company.
They are also accusing the American company which owns Generalcable in Riccarton of deliberately frustrating their attempts to get welfare relief.
Two hundred and fifty workers have been locked out of the cablemaking plant for six days. Included in the property they are trying to get back are wallets containing money, clothing and thousands of dollars worth of tradesmen’s tools.
Union negotiator Bernard McIlhone said that workers were angry by the company’s refusal to return their property.
“They have ignored our requests for nearly a week,” he said. “Now they have finally responded – with a plan that will take nearly a week for the property to be returned.
“This is not only unreasonable, it’s also illegal,” he said.
The EPMU has laid a complaint with the police.
Mr McIlhone said that the tradesmen in particular needed access to their tools.
“They have thousands of dollars worth of personal tools in there that they could use to get other work while they are locked out,” he said.
The company was also frustrating attempts by the workers to get emergency relief from Winz by not providing the department with the information it needs to process the applications, he said.
“This company is trying to starve its workers into accepting an inferior pay offer,” he said.
The company has told the workers that they will not be allowed back to work until they accept a two per cent pay offer. They are seeking four per cent, in line with other industry settlements.