Let the Games Begin- The World's First Strike of 2011!
1,100 unionised workers in SkyCity Casino, Auckland, are preparing for strike action on New Years Eve- to achieve a Living Wage of $15 ph for the starting rate. If in Auckland, come down and support the workers- txt Joe at (0064) 029 44 55 702 messages of solidarity.
or Leave your solidarity message HERE
from Unite union's Mike Treen-
SkyCity Casino in Auckland will be the scene of union organized action on January 1 starting immediately after the traditional fireworks display.
Unite and the Service and Food Workers Union are organizing a series of joint stop work meetings starting at 12.30am on New Year's day. The meetings will be voting on a resolution from the union negotiating team rejecting the company's offer in the Collective Agreement negotiations and empowering the unions to organize continuing industrial action until a suitable offer is received.
"This stop work meeting will the world's first industrial action in 2011", said Unite National Director and lead union negotiator Mike Treen. We are holding the meetings on New Year's day because by then the Collective Agreement will have expired and yet the company refused to allow the unions to consult their members on the company offer before that date.
"We had an agreement that the unions could hold meetings on December 29. The company reneged on that agreement when at the last minute they insisted that the meetings would only be allowed if we recommended the company offer. This was a blatant attempt to blackmail the union negotiating team who had unanimously rejected the offer from the company.
"The company offer is 3% a year for 3 years - take it or leave it. The company refused to discuss any other changes to the Collective Agreement. Major areas of disagreement couldn't be addressed in the negotiations. The areas included the fact that starting rates for many jobs are barely above the minimum wage, that frontline salaried staff are excluded from Collective Agreement coverage, that part time workers have no guarantee of regular hours or shifts, or the need to raise minimum wage to $15. The company wouldn't even agree to add clauses to the agreement reflecting changes in the law like the new flexible working hours law. They are one of the only casinos in the world that doesn't provide free meals and parking to staff yet won't agree to freeze these charges for the duration of the agreement.
"This is part of long standing campaign by the company to marginalise the union since the new management team took over a few years ago. This attitude was typified by the response of Grainne Troute the General Manager of Human Resources for SkyCity when asked if she considered unions a 'necessary evil'. She responded that the only word she disagreed with was 'necessary'!
"The company is now trying to bully staff into accepting the agreement or leaving the unions with completely false claims that the meetings are 'illegal' and any action will mean union members won't get any back pay on a settlement.
"These tactics will fail. The unions represent 1100 members - a majority of frontline staff. They are determined to get a better deal. This is a hugely profitable company with a virtual license to print money and yet pays new staff as little as $12.81 an hour - six cents above the minimum wage. It is a disgrace and should end."