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Concrete truck drivers strike in Auckland over hours, pay and the exploitation of fellow workers

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Around 10 concrete truck drivers in Auckland are striking on Monday over long hours, low pay and the exploitation of their fellow migrant workers. The workers will also picket from 9am tomorrow (Monday 26th August) outside Allied Concrete Penrose Plant, 20 Leon Leicester Ave, Mount Wellington, Auckland 1060. Media are invited to attend. The action follows a strike and picket last Friday in Avondale.

Members have been in negotiation with the company since December last year without a just result.Union delegate Nga, says the company’s latest offer isn’t enough to pay rent.“The price tag to live in Auckland just keeps increasing and we can’t keep up. We can’t leave because the jobs are in Auckland.”He says mismanagement at the company means drivers struggle to keep up with the workload.“There are problems with our workloads and hours when there doesn’t need to be. They need to hire more staff for the workload and pay us all fairly so we aren’t encouraged to drive for too long. We need breaks.”“We hope the strikes will show the company that we are passionate about our work and we’d like the company to come back to negotiations with an offer that takes into account our needs.”Union members are also concerned the company is exploiting migrant workers through offering what initially looks like more money, discouraging them from joining the union, and then not paying them for hours worked outside their contracted hours.The Union has reason to believe the migrant workers are being offered $27 dollars an hour for a 40-hour work week but actually end up working over 50 hours a week. This brings the hourly rate down to approximately $21.60 per hour.FIRST Union and Migrante New Zealand spokesman Mikee Santos says that initially the offers look good...“But what we see happen is that those hours aren’t enough to complete the job so they end up working for longer for the same money and this brings down their hourly rate. They are paid for set hours, but frequently work outside these hours.”Mr Santos says that sadly, the tactic used is far too common in New Zealand and leaves migrant workers with few choices should anything go wrong.“Filipino migrant workers face ramifications from the local agency that sent them to New Zealand (who they often owe money to), and from their New Zealand employer should they be unhappy with anything that employer asks because their visa is locked into that employer. They have to secure a new visa if they wish to change employers. It’s a modern form of exploitation that urgently needs attention.”He says the employer is using the fact the workers are unaware of their rights, and that their visas are tied to that single employer, to exploit them.“This is why we urge migrants to join a union so they are aware of their employment rights as part of their assimilation to New Zealand. I cannot stress this enough.”

  • Source: A FirstUnion release