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Unions Send Notice To Withdraw Labour From Major Recycler

First Union and E tū members at Oji Fibre Solutions’ Penrose Mill have today sent notice of their intention to take industrial action by withdrawing their labour from December 10th for five working days. Workers at the mill, which is part of the Japanese-owned Oji Group and produces 85,000 tonnes of paper and pulp products yearly in New Zealand, are currently in pay negotiations with the company and say that strike action is a last resort after not being taken seriously by the employer.

Justin Wallace, FIRST Union organiser, said that company management were approaching union members individually today to tell them that strike action was pointless, but their attempts to create fear and division were galvanising workers.

"Our members are in a really tough spot - they’re trying to fix historical pay issues that have resulted in them now having to work longer and harder than ever to support their families," said Mr Wallace.

"Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to rise, causing more stress and anxiety, and wages stay the same. It’s why we enter bargaining for a new Collective Agreement and a chance to make progress."

"In the time since they signed their last agreement, the owners continue to make millions from a growing network of recycling and production facilities across the world, but you definitely wouldn’t get that impression at the bargaining table."

The Oji Group is the fifth largest pulp and paper company in the world, operating in 17 countries. Oji Oceania Management - the company’s NZ operations - saw revenue growth of 10 per cent ($113 million) in the year to December 2021, with pre-tax profit growing by $73m in the same year. FIRST Union analysis shows a 30 per cent increase in total remuneration for Key Management Personnel in the same period (from $11.2m to $14.5m).

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"The company aren’t listening at all during pay negotiations and workers have decided that they have no other option but to strike and show the company that the status quo simply can’t go on - they can’t survive it,"" said Mr Wallace.

"Work life balance has disappeared over the years and these people go back to their communities every day feeling exhausted, underpaid and dreading doing the same thing tomorrow for even less."

"They can’t support their families at the moment, and they deserve a real hearing at the negotiating table - but it isn’t going to happen without industrial action."

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