October 12th, 2006
NDU/EPMU Joint Media Release
Progress made in Feltex talks
Negotiations between the National Distribution Union and Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and Feltex’s new owner Godfrey Hirst are making progress.
The talks concern the transferral of Feltex workers to Godfrey Hirst and the terms and conditions they will work under.
NDU National Secretary Laila Harré says the negotiation of a new collective for the workers will be ongoing.
“Our objective has been to protect the benchmark industry standard set by Feltex for wages and conditions.
“We have made excellent progress on the principles for ongoing terms and conditions of employment and while significant work remains we are confident that our objective can be achieved.”
EPMU National Secretary Andrew Little agrees.
“We’ll be working alongside the NDU to make sure these workers can get the best deal possible.”
Meanwhile, workers at the company’s Riccarton plant have returned to work today on the advice of their unions that their message had been clearly heard and understood.
The workers had staged a sit-in at the plant from lunchtime yesterday to protest the collective loss of millions of dollars of redundancy payments.
Ms Harré says the decision to call the protest off was made by the workers as a way to move forward after strongly making their point.
“We will continue to raise the issues around redundancies in relation to Kakariki and Riccarton with Godfrey Hirst.”
Riccarton-based Feltex worker and NDU Delegate Tony Sparks says the protest was a sign of the great sense of solidarity that Feltex workers have.
“Despite being faced with closure the Riccarton Feltex workers have taken action and shown the same fight and vigour that has characterised this unionised workforce for seventy-five years.
“We took action and sent a strong message to Godfrey Hirst about our strength and determination.”
The average entitlements for Feltex workers is 35 weeks pay with 11 workers entitled to full redundancy entitlement of 56 weeks pay had their current redundancy agreement been honoured.
The receivership restrain under current law restricts payment up to only $15,000 which includes wages owed and holiday pay.
Workers anticipate that their action needs to translate into Godfrey Hirst taking on board their message in a positive and constructive manner and doing the decent thing.