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New Zealand: workers at Sistema Plastics campaign for fair contract

22 August, 2018IndustriALL Global Union affiliate E tū is demanding a fair collective bargaining agreement for workers at Sistema Plastics in Auckland, New Zealand, but has reached a standoff with the intransigent management who refuse to offer any additional increase in wages or conditions. Sistema is part of US-based Newell Brands, a producer of plastic storage containers.

The workers at Sistema are primarily migrant workers from the Pacific Islands, India and the Philippines, often employed on 12 month working visas with little knowledge of their rights. Most migrant workers began employment accepting whatever was offered.

Sistema Plastics employs approximately 500 workers at their Auckland plant, of whom 200 are organized by E tū.

Employees are required to work 60 hours a week for minimum wage, minimum sick leave and minimum health and safety. The current dispute has been ongoing for about 10 months but the issue of low pay and poor conditions has endured for several years.

“In the manufacturing sector in New Zealand it is common for workers to get overtime after 40 hours per week at time and one half the hourly rate, long-service pay and / or long-service holidays, and a daily shift allowance. We have estimated that Sistema is saving around five million dollars a year by not paying what other employers in this industry pay in New Zealand,”

said Neville Donaldson, E tū union representative.

The E tū has launched a public campaign where people can show their support by sending a letter to the CEO calling for an improved collective agreement for Sistema workers. To show international solidarity, send an open letter to Sistema’s CEO telling him to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with decent pay and conditions for the workers in Auckland.

“IndustriALL is outraged with the working conditions at Sistema Plastics in New Zealand. It is imperative that Sistema Plastics negotiate in good faith with the E tū union a collective employment agreement with decent pay and conditions,”

said Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary in a letter to the company’s CEO.