Orora Workers Lose Their Leave After Level 4
Many E tū members at Orora Packaging plants across the country are returning to work this week with exhausted leave balances, as the company had made them take sick leave and annual leave to cover their wages while the country was in Alert Level 4 lockdown.
While the plants stayed open over the lockdown period to deliver an essential service, many workers stayed home because they met the vulnerable worker categories under the Ministry of Health’s advice, or had childcare duties while schools were closed.
The company’s official position was that workers who were unable to work during Alert Level 4 could either take sick leave or advanced sick leave. Some then had to use annual leave beyond this in order to maintain an income.
The company did not apply for the essential worker leave subsidy and has not provided an adequate reason why they did not, saying that their financial position means that they were able to pay workers their existing leave entitlements instead.
Some workers now have negative sick leave balances of two weeks and no annual leave left which will leave them struggling.
“I’m feeling very let down, I thought they would have helped us more. It’s quite upsetting,” says Claudia Richards, who now has no sick leave or annual leave left.
Philip Schaapveld agrees: “I think they are quite disgraceful. Especially under these circumstances in which they are making a lot money. Easily as much as before, if not more.
“To not pay a small number of staff out of a large workforce is not good enough. I think it’s despicable.”
E tū organiser Olly Crawford Ellis says that the company needs to walk the talk with their employment practices.
“The Orora website says: ‘Orora’s values of Teamwork, Passion, Respect and Integrity define who we are and how we operate.’ It’s clear that their decisions over the lockdown period go against everything they claim to stand for.
“Our members are calling on the company to do the right thing and restore leave balances for those affected workers.
“E tū believes this problem is widespread, and many other workers will be in the same position as staff at Orora.”