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Christchurch pallet workers strike once again over dismal pay rates

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50 Christchurch workers who restore pallets for the distribution of many of New Zealand’s well-known products will be striking again tomorrow over low pay and large pay variations between company work sites.

Workers will strike and picket from 2pm tomorrow (Thursday 30th August) and the strike will continue until early Saturday morning. The picket is at CHEP NZ Service Centre, 95 Shands Road, Christchurch. Media are invited to attend. This follows strike and picket action undertaken by workers on Monday.The crux of the pay problems:

The CHEP Christchurch workers are on low pay rates; a starting rate of $16.56 with a majority of employees on around $17-18 dollars an hour. Members are asking for a $1.50 an hour pay rise, which will still NOT bring their pay rates up to that of their colleagues at the company’s Wiri, Auckland site doing the same work. FIRST Union Southern Secretary Paul Watson says the minimal pay rates have previously caused some workers at the site to live out of their cars and makeshift homes.“These unliveable rates have real life ramifications for these workers that the company cannot, ethically, continue to ignore.”Mr Watson says it’s another case of the ‘working poor’.“It’s not a massive expectation, if you’re working full time, to have enough income to live off.”He says the company is making millions a month. “The pay rise we are asking for would cost the company about three days profit. Its members’ hard labour that is producing those profits and they’re not getting their fair share.”“It’s about keeping up with the cost of living everywhere. Low pay rates just don’t cut it."Yesterday the company came back with a revised offer which effectively lifted the average percentage increase a few base points but still left the majority of members trailing well behind Auckland staff rates.Mr Watson says it’s unfair the workers do the same work as Auckland, yet are paid significantly less.

  • Source: A FirstUnion release