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Lawfulness of Lockout Challenged - Offer Rejected

Press Release: National Distribution Union and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union

Tuesday, 12 September 2006 1:45pm

Unions to Challenge Lawfulness of Lockout - Members Reject Employer Offer

LAWFULNESS OF LOCK OUT

The NDU and EPMU have filed proceedings in the Employment Court challenging the lawfulness of the lock out of distribution workers serving Progressive supermarkets.

NDU National Secretary Laila Harré says that the unions believe the demands made by the employer as a condition for ending the lockout are unlawful.

"The employer has demanded that union members give up their right to good faith negotiations for a national agreement. The right to good faith negotiations is a fundamental right in the Employment Relations Act and our position is that it is not lawful to demand that that right be given up. If this lock out was lawful then any lock out aimed at making workers abandon their fundamental right to collective bargaining would be lawful," said Ms Harré.

The unions are asking the Employment Court to hear the case on the lawfulness of the lock out next week when time is set down for the hearing of proceedings relating to the alleged unlawful use of other people to do the work of the distribution centre workers.

REJECTION OF EMPLOYER'S OFFER

Meanwhile workers at the company's distribution centres have rejected offers faxed to the unions yesterday and again requested that the employer enter good faith negotiations for the national agreement and talk with the unions to progress a settlement of all issues.

"We are very disappointed with the employer's offer which completely ignores the issues that are at the heart of the dispute. The settlement proposed by the unions last week showed significant movement by our members that did address concerns raised by the employer.

"The employer's offer shows no movement at all.

"No offer is made on the fundamental issue of parity in allowances between the sites. The 3.5% pay offer would result in a real pay cut as it does not keep pace with inflation. The offer to increase the pay rise to the inflation rate of 4% requires workers to offset the extra by giving away existing conditions of employment. The three agreements sought by the employer would have three different terms, preventing members from bargaining together again for three years. And to add insult to injury the Palmerston North workers who are being offered a three year deal would be required to cross their fingers and hope that a reasonable pay rise could be negotiated in the third year as they would give up their rights to a normal bargaining process for that."

"The overall effect of this offer is to cut wages and conditions and to increase the differences in pay between the three areas."

ENDS

See... Progressive DCS: Summary of Offer from Employer (PDF)

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