Press Release: National Distribution Union and NZ Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union
Pay Parity for Locked Out Workers
National Distribution Union and NZ Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union members in Auckland, Palmerston North and Christchurch have ratified terms of settlement with Progressive Enterprises.
The three-year settlement achieves the workers' key aim of equal pay across Auckland, Palmerston North and Christchurch Distribution Centres. A single national pay rate will deliver a 19.7% to the lowest paid distribution centre in Christchurch within two years.
"This outcome has been hard won by our members. They have defended their right to equal pay for equal work and they have succeeded despite the lock out and the enormous resources the company has committed to trying to undermine their resolve to achieve parity through a national bargaining process," said Laila Harré, National Secretary of the National Distribution Union.
The unions initiated national bargaining to deliver parity of allowances between Auckland, Palmerston North and Christchurch Distribution Centres.
"What we have achieved is parity across all three centres within two years at a level equal to 95.4% of existing Palmerston North allowances. The small difference will be protected for current workers in Palmerston North," said Ms Harré.
"While this settlement results in three separate agreements we have only got there because the employer has failed completely in its mission to force workers to give up their national bargaining power. Three separate agreements were always an option, but our determination to bargain nationally was absolute and because of that we have achieved our pay parity objective."
Laila Harré says that she believes Progressive "gave up the fight in the face of overwhelming public support for the workers by late last week. They came back to us and said they wanted to bargain."
Laila Harré said the workers were very aware of the importance of local and international union support and the generosity of New Zealanders for this victory.
Also achieved are two wage increases to the base rate of 3.8% on 1 August 2007 and another 3.8% on 1 August 2008, with a one-year increase of 4.25% this year for Palmerston North, 5 weeks annual leave for those with 10 years service and a $1000 interest free loan for the returning workers.
"At 8 am tomorrow this workforce will reclaim the distribution centres as proud monuments to collective action and community support."