March 10, 2005
Metals workers strike for a fair-share pay rise
Auckland metals industry workers will strike next week to show their employers that they are serious about a five per cent pay rise.
Some 700 workers voted this afternoon to hold a half-day stoppage next Friday (March 18) in the wake of their employers’ refusal to continue negotiations to renew the key Metals and Manufacturing Industries Collective Employment Agreement.
The workers will rally at Ericsson Stadium in Mt Smart at noon, and will not return to work.
The Metals agreement is recognised as the most influential private-sector industrial agreement in the country, setting the going rate across the manufacturing sector and influencing the wages and conditions of all private-sector workers.
Talks between the workers’ union, the EPMU, and the EMA (Northern) to renew the Metals broke down on February 24 when the employers made a final offer of a 3.2 per cent pay rise. The workers overwhelmingly rejected the offer, saying they wanted a five per cent rise.
This week, the EMA told the EPMU that as far as it was concerned, negotiations were finished.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little told today’s stop-work meeting in Auckland that the employers’ behaviour was outrageous.
“We have to send them a very clear message,” he said. “When they say ‘we are not going to talk any more’, we have to show them that we are not giving up.”
Mr Little said that since the launching of the EPMU’s Fair Share 5 in 05 campaign on February 28, several employers had agreed to a five per cent pay rise.
“We’ve had six settlements, or offers from employers, at five per cent,” he said.
“Our claim is reasonable and most people recognise that. Our economy has never been better, company profits have never been better. If we don’t win a fair pay rise now, then when are we going to do it? That’s the question you should all be asking - if not now, when?”
The decision to strike was made yesterday in a unanimous vote by site delegates, and won overwhelming support from rank-and-file members at today’s meeting. Workers in Christchurch will discuss their action at a meeting at Addington raceway at 1pm tomorrow.
Today’s Auckland meeting was attended by leaders and delegates of two other major unions, the National Distribution Union (NDU) and the Amalgamated Workers Union (AWUNZ), who pledged support to the EPMU’s Fair Share – 5 in 05 campaign. Members and officials from the Service and Food Workers’ Union (SFWU) have attended other EPMU stop-work meetings.