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Nearly 20 Years On Minimum Wage - Chemical Cosmetic Workers Join Forces In Double Strike


FIRST Union members at chemical/cosmetic industry businesses Jaychem and Essano in Auckland are ramping up strike action this week, with a combined public picket on Tuesday and a full withdrawal of labour between Monday and Wednesday adding to eight days of industrial action so far.

Workers at both Essano and Jaychem are significantly underpaid compared to others in similar businesses, and both are attempting to force through pay cuts during negotiations with FIRST Union so far this year.


  • Public picket - media are invited to attend from 09:00-10:00, Tuesday 7th May, 2024
  • Full withdrawal of labour by Essano workers - effective 05:30-15:00, Monday 6th - Wednesday 8th May, 2024
  • Full withdrawal of labour by Jaychem workers - effective 05:30-15:00, Tuesday 7th - Thursday 9th May, 2024


  • Public picket - Airport Oaks, 149 Kirkbride Rd, Mangere, Auckland

(Members cannot safely demonstrate directly outside the businesses and have chosen a nearby public area for their picket.)


"Chemical businesses like Jaychem and Essano are part of what’s becoming a forgotten industry for workers, which is reflected in their very low wages and hostility to fair pay negotiations," said Numia Raea, FIRST Union organiser.

"There are many people working at both businesses who have seen no progression beyond minimum wage for decades, with yearly pay increases below the cost of living, meaning an effective pay cut for these workers every time they sign a new agreement."

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"More than one of our members at Jaychem, for example, are approaching twenty years’ service with the business and still earning minimum wage."

"That’s totally unacceptable for a major New Zealand-owned company whose products are being shipped to global markets and supplying our hospitals, pharmacies and farms."

"Essano talks about their "relentless journey of democratisation" in their PR blurbs, but that democratic approach certainly does not seem to apply in their own workplace."

"Essano FIRST Union members have been on strike for 2 days per week for the last month and are not backing down - life can’t just continue as normal for these workers because they can’t afford to feed their families on poverty wages."

For further information:

  • Essano Ltd: "A true leader in natural beauty, Essano Limited has created certified organic, award-winning formulations and unique product ranges. They are driven by doing what's right for your skin, the planet and all our furry friends. The products are crafted in New Zealand through their on-site lab and factory to ensure the manufacturing process is monitored every step of the way." ( source)
  • Jaychem: "... operates from a purpose built facility that provides the complete manufacturing solution to a variety of industry sectors. Our laboratory and production processes deliver quality health, hygiene, personal care and animal health products. Every day, Jaychem products are destined for hospitals, pharmacies, homes, veterinary clinics and farms throughout New Zealand and across global markets." Jaychem are a New Zealand distributor of Savlon products

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