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Long Running Southward Pay Dispute Resolved

Long Running Southward Pay Dispute Resolved

14 October 2005

Southward Engineering has reached agreement on a new collective agreement covering its Lower Hutt and Auckland factories. The new collective agreement covers 155 of the 210 workers employed in the two factories, with the 155 workers belonging to the Engineers Union (EPMU).

The main point of dispute which led to a strike by 38 staff required to load containers, weld on production lines and process raw material was the EPMU wage claim for 5%. The strike resulted in the suspension of the striking workers over the last four weeks.

The company has agreed on a flat increase that for lower paid workers will result in increases of 5%, with a small number receiving slightly more. However, the total cost of the settlement is less than 5% and in line with the company's original offer. Legal action the company commenced regarding breaches of good faith and action by other unions holding up export goods will be withdrawn as part of the deal.

The EPMU will also withdraw claims that 6 of the 38 workers suspended shouldn’t have been suspended, although the company was confident that the suspensions were all legal, with the claims by the union based on a poor understanding of the work done by the six and their personal circumstances.

The company says it is pleased to have resolved the dispute, with over 85% of union members who voted endorsing the deal. It has also achieved changes that will improve its workplace flexibility and addressed some long standing arrangements which are no longer relevant to the way it runs its business. Overall the company sees the settlement as one that provides benefits to both sides and now looks forward to getting on with business as usual.

ENDS

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