December 4, 2007 Media Release
UCL workers take lightning strike action
More than thirty Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union members at United Containers Ltd took a lightning two hour strike and picket action this morning to protest the fact they can be forced to work 6am to 9pm without overtime.
Some of the workers have had no pay rise in two years and are currently in negotiations for their first collective agreement.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says conditions of work at UCL look like something out of the nineteenth century.
“UCL relies on having overtime on tap in order to meet its contracts but so far they haven’t been willing to provide even basic conditions like overtime rates.
“Shift work and on-call overtime has a big effect on people’s ability to organise their lives and can cause serious health issues as we’ve seen with a recent study linking shift work to higher cancer rates. The very least UCL can do is to make sure their workers are properly compensated through a decent overtime rate.
“UCL needs to realise that if they want to keep these skilled workers they need to treat them with dignity and so far they’ve failed to do so. The failure to have any decent controls on hours of work is symptomatic of UCL’s ongoing lack of respect for its workers’ health and safety.”
UCL’s core business is refitting and maintaining shipping containers. Following the industrial action they have approached the EPMU for mediation.