Release date: 13/10/2010

The Transport Workers Union of Australia (TWU) has travelled to New Zealand to support a dozen Transpacific employees on a one-week strike after the management of the multinational company told the workers the offer was reflective of pay increases across their global operations.

 Transpacific has income of over $2 billion a year across the world, and they are willing to fight a dozen workers over a 70 cent an hour pay rise. Currently, the company has offered an $8 a week for the average worker. Currently the NZ CPI is only running at 2 per cent, however, there are predictions that with the rise of the GST this will rise to over 5 per cent in the coming year.

“The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has predicted that the value of wages will likely shrink 3.6 per cent through to March, 2011,” National Distribution Union (NDU) Assistant General Secretary Karl Andersen said.
“This is a real loss of income for these workers and their families and it is ridiculous that a multi-national company is arguing over what is only cents to it.

“This government has also put in a lot of public money to see parity in wages between Australian and New Zealand workers. This won’t happen through minor tax cuts, but with major employers picking up their share of the tab and pay a fair wage. 

“Governments, both local and national, should have obligations in their contracts for companies to meet community expectations based on performance, the environment or the employment standards for hard-working members of the community,” Mr Andersen said.

Transport Workers Union National secretary and the ITF Asia Pacific Vice Chair, Tony Sheldon, said that TransPacfic was not bargaining in good faith and needed to sit back down with its employee representatives in New Zealand and come to an agreement.

“Current agreements we have negotiated in Australia see workers earn 33 per cent more than their New Zealand counterparts. TransPacific are treating their New Zealand workforce like second-class first world citizens – but they have nowhere to hide,” Mr Sheldon said.

“The agreements in Australia see increases in wages of up to five per cent per annum, including additional allowances for increases no less than CPI.
“The work these employees perform is dirty, it is dangerous but it is essential to the community. Transpacific is riding on the backs of its employees and their families, and it is about time the workers were treated with the respect they deserve,” Mr Sheldon said.

The International Transport Federation (ITF) has also weighed into the debate, with President Paddy Crumlin saying he was alarmed to hear that there could be illegal strike breakers being used to load shipping containers with recycled products.
“We are not going to stand by and let a multinational company refuse workers in New Zealand a small pay increase - nor will we accept or allow illegal strike breakers to load containers and undermine the workers and their families,” Mr Crumlin said. 

“We will be monitoring vessels carrying these cargoes to ensure that they are employing international minimum standards acceptable to the ITF in their trades.”
ITF New Zealand’s convener Gary Parsloe, will be informing the ITF as the containers come in contact with the supply chain.

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