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Independent Liquor sale leaves workers shafted

29 October 2006

Independent Liquor sale leaves workers shafted

A community protest in support of action being taken by workers at Independent Liquor has been organised for tomorrow outside the company premises in Boundary Road, Papakura from 9am.

These workers are taking action in support of their pay claims and in opposition to a culture of bullying, intimidation and harassment of union members at this site.

The company will shortly be sold for around a billion dollars but the workers will be left out in the cold. The mainly Maori and Pacific Island workforce have poor pay and poor redundancy arrangements relative to other brewery workers. They typically receive $200 to $300 less per week and the company has repeatedly frustrated attempts to negotiate a collective employment agreement with better pay and redundancy.

Company representatives now say they "do not think it will be possible" to negotiate any agreement before the company is sold. This would leave these workers high and dry with poor redundancy arrangements and an uncertain employment future.

"Senior management have deliberately stonewalled negotiations and as union membership at the site has increased (up to 38 out of a target group of 65 workers - despite the intimidation) these senior managers have led a vicious campaign to target union members, driving them off the site or out of the union," said Mike Treen, Auckland Secretary of Unite.

"The company is well known throughout the union movement for its appalling anti-union practices and its medieval attitude to its workers."

"We have had to resort to keeping the names of some of members confidential as many have feared reprisals from joining", said Mike Treen.

In one case a member was so abused for belonging to the union he walked out on a shift because he said he would have hit his manager if he had stayed. He is a father with young children and has now left the company. Other Unite members have been put under heavy pressure to get them to resign from the union or pressure them to resign their jobs.

The pay and conditions at Independent Liquor are one of the key reasons for this company's huge profitability. For example:

* Workers at Lion and DB receive on average 10% more than Independent Liquor workers for performing the same job.

* The shift allowances at Lion are typically between $27 and $42 per shift while at DB they range from $24 to $36 per shift. At Independent the range is from $12.50 to $15 per shift.

* Overtime rates come in after 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day at Lion and DB but after 45 hours per week at Independent.

* Redundancy at Lion and DB is triple the redundancy arrangements at Independent.

The company says that these lower pay rates are rates related to "what is paid in this area".

Unite utterly rejects the idea that a worker from "South Auckland" should be paid at a lower rate than workers elsewhere when they are doing the same job in the same industry.

This has been a long, very difficult battle by these workers. Tomorrow marks the beginning of a public campaign for justice for them.

ENDS


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