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Source: Etu Union

Workers at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare’s manufacturing site in Auckland have voted to take industrial action, beginning tomorrow, as the company refuses to improve their offer which includes insufficient pay rises and a loss of important conditions.

The current offer from the company includes the removal of overtime pay for working on weekends, and shift pattern changes that will further reduce overtime pay for many workers. The pay rises offered do not make up for these changes, sitting around the rate of inflation, meaning workers aren’t able to get ahead.

E tū members will be picketing outside the factory in the mornings and afternoons from Monday to Friday this week. The union will give notice of an overtime ban, to begin in two weeks. If there is no improvement to the offer, members are prepared to take strike action and stop work completely.

E tū delegate and engineer Chris Burton, who first started with Fisher & Paykel 38 years ago, says the company’s actions do not match its good reputation.

“It’s a real shame that one of New Zealand’s greatest companies is behaving like this,” Chris says.

“They have got a long history of doing the right thing, and over the years I have been able to do well myself, but that’s not a luxury many of my colleagues are afforded.

“There used to be a culture of lifting people up through development opportunities, and proper investment in staff. We trained a lot of people. But they now have some ugly agendas and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare just aren’t doing that to the extent they should be.

“There are over 3,000 people at the Auckland site. We should expect a company like this to give something back to the wider community, and not just tokenism.”  

Chris says the people worst affected by the proposed deal are those who are doing it hardest.

“They are playing on people’s hardship. I think it’s extremely cheeky to come to us with something like this while many are in financial stress, with rents, mortgages, fuel, and everything else getting so much more expensive.

“The reality is that a majority of the staff on lower wages are women. They claim to pay attention to diversity and inclusion – here’s a real opportunity to put their money where their mouth is and show the rest of the country how to get real results in closing the gender pay gap.”

Chris says it’s particularly disappointing that the company are taking this approach given it is a highly profitable business.

“We were one of the few New Zealand businesses that did well during the pandemic, due to the increased demand for healthcare products. When you are posting record profits year after year and then you come calling for the lowest paid people in the organisation to take the biggest hit, that’s not good enough.”