April 5, 2005
Thousands of workers rally for a Fair Share
Employers feel the pressure in wages disputes
Some 3000 workers rallied in Auckland today to show their support for the Fair Share – Five in ‘05 campaign.
The workers, members of the country’s largest union, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, spilled out of the function room venue at Alexandra Park raceway and filled two more rooms.
For at least half, it was the first mass stop-work meeting that they had ever been to.
National secretary Andrew Little told the workers that their actions were showing employers that they were serious about winning a fair pay rise this year.
“This is another record-breaking meeting,” he said. “It’s a fantastic show of support for the Fair Share campaign, the most important campaign that this union has run in a long, long time.”
Mr Little said that workers were succeeding in getting their message that they expected pay rises of at least five per cent across to employers.
“A month into the campaign we are making progress,” he said.
“More and more employers are telling me that they think that our five per cent minimum is actually a pretty fair pay rise. The Metals (the Metals and Manufacturing Industries collective agreement) employers came back to the negotiating table because of the pressure you put on them. We will get the five per cent because of the pressure you are applying.”
Talks in the Metals agreement – the country’s most influential private-sector industrial document, setting the going rates and conditions across the manufacturing sector – will resume in Auckland on Thursday.
Workers at today’s rally voted to stage industrial action next week if the dispute is not settled. The action would probably take the form of overtime bans and a work-to-rule from Monday, a stop-work meeting on Thursday and a 24-hour strike on Friday.
Meanwhile, workers at Morgan Furniture in Auckland are picketing their factory in Glenfield in support of their claim.
The workers, who were at this morning’s rally, have been offered a pay rise of three per cent for a 10-month agreement. They are seeking six per cent for 14 months.
They will return to work tomorrow, and the dispute will go to mediation.
Striking workers at the Colgate Palmolive plant in Petone returned to work at 11pm yesterday after their second 24-hour strike.
Another rally will be held in Christchurch tomorrow, at 1pm at the Addington raceway.