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Whangarei workers 'sick of being put last by global giant Bidfood'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

FIRST Union members at the Whangarei branch of global food distribution company Bidfood are going on strike after being denied a national Collective Agreement with their employer that includes a Living Wage and other conditions that are commonplace in the logistics industry, FIRST Union said today.

Bidfood is a South African-owned company that delivers foods to customers all over the world, including to hotels, hospitals, prisons and restaurants. Australasia is the company’s most profitable region and the Whangarei branch has been named best branch in New Zealand several years in a row, but staff are paid low wages for the industry.

Bargaining has been underway for over a year and the company has come under fire from the Employment Relations Authority for breaching New Zealand employment law by initially refusing to meet with the union.

"This mega-multinational company’s obstinate attitude towards New Zealand’s employment laws has continued, and our members are sick and tired of being disrespected," says FIRST Union spokesperson Anita Rosentreter. "Our members in Whangarei are serious about their fight for collective coverage and fair wages."

Workers want to extend an existing Collective Agreement to union members in Whangarei and other branches, and to secure a living wage, but the company is opposed. A single Collective Agreement would encourage a consistency of terms and conditions across branches and allow members to bargain for fair wages alongside their colleagues who perform similar or identical roles in other regions.

"Long weekends are a busy time for Bidfood, but Labour Day is significant in another way for the members - it commemorates unionised workers winning an eight-hour workday back in 1840. But in 2019, we are still fighting for fairness at work in many respects," says Ms Rosentreter.

The strike - a full withdrawal of labour - begins at midday on Thursday 24th October and ends on Tuesday 29th October. Workers will be picketing near the company’s building when the strike begins on Thursday and again from 6am on Friday. 

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