Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: First Union
Winstone Aggregate workers, a part of the Fletcher Building Group, are taking strike action today as the company’s significant growth and forecasted revenues continue to surpass stagnating wages and the increasingly difficult work people are paid for, FIRST Union said today.
Annually, Winstone Aggregates extract around 4.5 million cubic metres of aggregates from the ground, making them the largest supplier in the country, which is expected to continue to grow over the next five years as the nation’s recovery from Covid-19 increases demand from cement manufacturers, building and construction firms and road construction companies.
“That makes one loaded truck and trailer leaving one of Winstone’s quarries every 35 seconds, but wages have not kept up with this increasing demand and workers feel like they are increasingly being taken advantage of,” said Justin Wallace, FIRST Union organiser.
“Our members have been in bargaining with the company for fair and reasonable wages increases, but have not succeeded in making the company understand their value and importance – this strike action is a last resort.”
“These men and women work long, hard hours and with the steady increase in the cost of living it is making it extremely hard to make ends meet.”
“The cost of living, especially in the Auckland region, is increasing at a much higher rate and it’s getting more and more difficult for them to support dependents and pay rent and mortgages and petrol and food costs without equivalent growth in wages.”
“The members feel like the hard work they do to create current profits and meet expected increases in demand over the next five years is not being acknowledged by Winstone’s management.”
Winstone Aggregate’s estimated annual revenue is around $70M per year. This equates to an estimated revenue per employee of around $321,000, which is five times larger than the average wage before tax for a Winstone Quarry Operator.
The industrial action constitutes a withdrawal of labour for 48 hours beginning at 07:00 this morning (Friday 11 February), but union members are not ruling out further action.
One quarry worker who wished to remain anonymous said that the situation had reached a point of no return, and the company’s ongoing refusal to negotiate a fair wage increase had galvanised workers and cemented their collective resolve.
“With the increase of living costs in the area we work and live in, we just want our pay to reflect the effort and the hours we put in,” they said.
“We’ve been in negotiations for months and are just looking for a fair resolution so we can get back to work.”
“We didn’t want to take action but felt like we were forced to because the company simply doesn’t listen to us.”