September 21, 2006
Triumphant supermarket workers back to work tomorrow morning
Triumphant workers at the Progressive supermarkets distribution centre will return to work at 8am tomorrow morning with their heads high and union flags waving after an historic win one of the most bitter industrial disputes in years.
“These workers stood firm in the face of incredible pressure from company and won,” said Andrew Little, national secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union which represents 110 of the locked-out workers in Christchurch.
The settlement includes pay parity between sites in Auckland, Palmerston North and Christchurch by 2008; a single national bargaining structure; and substantial pay rises every year for three years.
“They’ve got everything they wanted,” Mr Little said.
The workers were locked out nearly four weeks ago as Woolworths Australia, which bought the Progressive supermarket chain last year, attempted to force them to drop their claims for equality between the three sites.
Mr Little said that the victory sent a clear single to other foreign companies.
“Any company wanting to operate in New Zealand must understand the New Zealand workforce,” he said.
“We work hard, we expect to be treated decently and fairly, we stick together, and we’ll fight for what we know is right,” he said.
Mr Little paid tribute to the thousands of people who had supported the workers during the lock-out.
“Money, food and messages of support have poured in from all over the country,” he said.
“This has truly been a New Zealand victory, and we thank you.”