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Mass stop-work backs wages push

Mass stop-work backs wages push

More than 600 Auckland manufacturing workers have thrown their weight behind this year’s Metals agreement campaign.

At a meeting in Auckland this morning, members of the EPMU voted to support claims that include a seven-per-cent pay rise.

Union national secretary Andrew Little told the workers that there had never been a better time for a wages push.

“It’s time to get serious about wages for you and for working people all over New Zealand,” he said.

“The New Zealand economy has never been better. Company profits are reaching record levels. Now it’s time for you to get your share.”

Mr Little said that real wages had been eroded over the past 15 years as a result of the policies of the 1990s, which included the Employment Contracts Act, benefit cuts and deunionisation of many workplaces.

“It’s our job, at this time, as unionists, to do something about the real value of wages, and this is the year in which we need to do it. We have never had a better opportunity. This is our time to get a decent share and a fair share.”

Mr Little told members that he was confident they could win a decent pay rise, but that it wouldn’t be easy.

“The employers are not going to give us a good increase on a plate,” he said.

“We are going to have to work hard to get it, but it’s there for us to get.”

The Metals and Manufacturing Industries multi-employer collective agreement is due to expire on March 7. It is the largest and most influential private-sector industrial document in the country, directly covering more than 2000 workers at more than 200 companies, and setting the going rates for thousands of other workers.

Negotiations between the EPMU and the EMA are scheduled for next week.

Today’s meeting was part of a series being held around the country. Workers met in Hastings on Monday, in Christchurch yesterday and in Levin and Masterton today, and will meet in Wellington tomorrow and in Palmerston North and Wanganui on Friday.

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