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Strike - Godfrey Hirst Carpet Makers Refuse To Be Walked Over

WHAT:

FIRST Union members who work for multinational carpet maker Godfrey Hirst in Lower Hutt have voted to take strike action this Friday after more than 7 unproductive months of pay negotiations have left workers falling behind and frustrated

Godfrey Hirst - a subsidiary of US-based Mohawks Industries, who describe themselves as "world’s largest flooring company" - continues to make billions from its widespread international operations but is stymying progressive pay talks in New Zealand.

More than half of the Lower Hutt factory’s estimated 150 workers will withdraw their labour for 24 hours and picket outside the plant on Friday, calling for fairer wages for difficult work.

WHERE:

Outside Godfrey Hirst factory, 6 Bell Road South, Gracefield, Lower Hutt 5010

WHEN:

  • Lower Hutt picket - Friday 31st May, 1:00PM - 3:00PM
  • (Withdrawal of labour effective from 8:00AM on Friday 31st May until 8:00AM on Saturday 1st June)

WHY:

Richie Morris, FIRST Union organiser, said unions had always had difficulty negotiating with Godfrey Hirst but it was the first time workers at the carpet manufacturing facility in Lower Hutt had voted for strike action. Mr Morris said workers were united in their opposition to the company’s current pay offer and were considering further industrial options.

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"After seven months of failed negotiations, workers are really anxious and frustrated with Godfrey Hirst’s glacially slow approach to pay talks, and they’re seeking fair wage increases above the rising cost of living," said Mr Morris.

"After an ill-fated lockout of striking union members in Auckland in 2019, it appears Godfrey Hirst have learned nothing and still consider wage negotiations with long-serving staff to be an inconvenience rather than a chance to reward workers for their labour in growing the business."

Mr Morris said Godfrey Hirst workers at the Lower Hutt factory were experienced machine operators who produced yarn for wool carpets - some with decades of service - but the majority of workers earned well below a living wage or comparable retail pay rates in supermarkets, for example.

Godfrey Hirst is owned by global corporation Mohawk Industries, who describe themselves as the "world’s largest flooring company", "with leading market positions on four continents." The corporation announced its 2023 fourth quarter financial results with net sales of $2.7 bn (US$) and net earnings of $139m profit. The company also claims to have made $11.1 billion (US$) in worldwide sales for 2023.

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