Union members at First Security took strike action on April 19 in support of 15 members from the company’s patrols division who were earlier locked out by the company after a two-hour strike for decent pay.
Unite organisers joined staff picketing the company’s Mt Wellington head office. Representatives from the Amalgamated Workers Union and the National Distribution Union also attended to show their solidarity.
Non-union staff and management who turned up for work found the exit was blocked by a placard-covered car which mysteriously appeared outside. The picketers were not intimidated by management claims that their action was illegal and calling the police. After discussion with organisers, management agreed to lift the lockout and to meet with Unite for further talks on wages.
First Security guards begin on $13.52 per hour. The company was offering a three percent increase which would bring them to just $13.93. (The minimum wage is $13.00 from 1 April) Patrol staff want a minimum rate of $14.50 per hour which has been refused by the company. First Security is owned by Dutch multinational ISS.
According to Unite organiser Barry Sutherland, “Already the pay rates for patrol staff at First Security are the lowest in Auckland. Many of the staff are migrant workers who are fearful of their employment and more easily cowed to accept low pay and long hours of work.”
After the success of Saturday’s picket, these workers will not be so easily intimidated in future.