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Members vote for merger of two biggest private sector unions

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Members of two of the biggest private sector unions in New Zealand have voted in favour of a merger.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, with over 30,000 members, and the Service and Food Workers Union, with over 20,000 members, will become the second largest union in the country, after the PSA.

"This is a huge step forward for all working New Zealanders," says Bill Newson, national secretary of the EPMU. "A strong union movement is the foundation for good wages, skills recognition, and decent working conditions.

"Too many Kiwis aren’t in a union and don’t see how they can get a better deal at work. We want to reach those workers and help them make a difference through collective bargaining."

"The nature of work is changing and workers have to stand together against exploitative trends like stagnant wages, zero-hour contracts, down-skilling and insecure work.

"By combining the strength and resources of two unions, our members will be able to fight for a fair share of the profits of their labour."

The new union will be formally launched, with a new name and brand, on 7 October in Wellington.

"90% of private sector workers have no realistic right to collective bargaining, and are being held back by repressive laws and the casualisation of the workforce," says John Ryall, national secretary of the SFWU.

"The new union will be a force for change. It will be a diverse, active organisation, fighting for industrial gains and progressive causes and making a real difference in Kiwis’ lives.

"Together, we will campaign for the living wage, for strong health and safety laws, and for the rights of every worker to be treated with dignity and respect."

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