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New Zealand affiliates take action on low wages

news 21 Jul 2014

ITF affiliated FIRST Union workers took action on apparent employer intransigence at Kuehne + Nagel (K+N) earlier this week, holding a 24-hour strike on Tuesday 3rd September.

The dispute between FIRST Union and K+N came to a head earlier this year, when the union attempted to negotiate a pay raise for all workers at the company. At that time, the union reported that it had experienced anti-union behaviour in its dealings with K+N, and that the company wasn’t willing to enter into bargaining.

ITF inland transport secretary Mac Urata wrote to the company’s European headquarters on 30 April and asked the company to make efforts to seek a positive relationship with the union and to address its concerns. Since then, it is reported that K+N have continued to avoid bargaining with the union. Further allegations of anti-union behaviour, including accusations of preferential treatment for non-union members, have also emerged.

Urata and Ingo Marowsky, ITF global head – supply chain and logistics, wrote a letter of protest to K+N this week. The letter stated that:

The ITF has been informed of a number of examples of Kuehne + Nagel’s business practices in New Zealand that are utterly contrary to normal practice and, indeed, may even be incompatible with national legislation. We are alarmed that a company such as yours has put itself in a position in which it stands accused of offering blatantly preferential treatment to its non-union members. This continuing state of affairs also discredits the written assurance given by your General Manager Human Resources in her letter to the ITF of 1 May 2013 that: ‘We are in the process of engaging in bargaining with First Union … KN will negotiate in good faith throughout the bargaining process. … We will continue to negotiate with First Union directly.

Urata commented: “Given that K+N have a stated corporate social responsibility goal to ‘strive to take the best possible care of our people’, their behaviour begs the question how they’d behave if they didn’t want to look after their workers.” Marowsky added: "The ITF has a wealth of campaign experience, particularly in the logistics sector. We are 100% committed to supporting affiliated unions in this sector, both nationally and internationally".

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