Auckland railway maintenance workers vote to strike
Workers at CAF, who maintain passenger trains for Auckland Metro, have voted unanimously to take industrial action beginning on the 14th of May.
CAF, short for Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, pays its employees $7000 a year less than workers doing similar jobs for Kiwirail.
“This strike is about equal pay for equal work,” says Rail & Maritime Transport Union organiser Rudd Hughes.
“Five kilometres away from where our members at CAF work, there are Kiwirail workers doing similar jobs for much higher pay. We don’t think that’s fair.”
The Spanish-based international labour-hire company predominantly employs immigrant workers.
“We will always challenge the exploitation of vulnerable people,” says Mr Hughes.
“This company ties jobs to visas and pays low wages, which gives them an unfair competitive advantage in the tendering process and threatens to drive down wages and conditions for everyone in the industry.”
Any industrial action by the workers who maintain Auckland Metro’s locomotives and rail carriages will likely mean fewer trains are available to meet timetable requirements of Auckland Transport.
This may mean the cancellation of trains and disruption for commuters.
The RMTU and CAF are due to meet once more before industrial action begins, and CAF workers remain hopeful the company will offer them a fair deal that can avoid the need for a strike.
“All our members at CAF want is to be paid a fair wage for the skills and commitment they bring to the job,” says Mr Hughes.
“It’s a perfectly reasonable expectation, and these workers voted 100% in favour of fighting for it.”