Thursday 28 February 2008


Commentary: Pat OD

"Just whistle when you need us, we're Allied Workforce
Phone 0800 LABOUR
Phone 0800 LABOUR"

"We're Allied Workforce."

You've probably heard this jingle on the radio.

You may have been slightly offended by the concept that workers can be
conjured up by a whistle from the boss. (like a farmer whistles up his
sheep dog)

But what you may have missed, because they don't play it all the time,
is one factory manager gloating that Allied Workforce had made him an
extra three hundred and twenty five thousand dollars a year Because he
didn't have to pay their wages in the inevitable down time, that all
production processes face. Which he would have to do for permanent workers.

So who pays?

Casual workers are usually low paid, and the rent and bills don't stop
coming when you are stood down.

So these workers and their family's are squeezed out of any income for
sometimes quite long periods to plump up profits.

Casual workers are very hard to organise, because the work is never

If you worked last week doesn't mean you will get work next week, or
even the next day, or even ever again.

And joining a union is guaranteed to stop the phone ringing.

This industrial cancer is being helped in its spread by the Labour
Government's Employment Relations Act.

A current poll being run by the Maritime workers union had members put
job security and casualisation as the top concern of workers, even above
wages or health provision.

So what's the answer? The Maritime Union is addressing this question
head on and recruiting casuals and contractors into the union and
pledging them the same union protection as permanent workers.

Of course this effort to defend and benefit the position of casuals is
not helped by the ERA law, which makes it illegal for workers to take
industrial action to better the lot of casuals being exploited in this
way by the bosses.

If casuals are not called in the next day by their agency, for any
reason or none, or even because they joined the union. It is completely
legal for their workmates to take any industrial action in their defence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Two articles from last year about Allied Workforce:
“Union investigates threats after walkout”,> gives details about a dispute involving Allied Workforce and the SFWU at a Wattie's plant.

A few months later, “NZ Union wins 35 Hour week” outlines a collective agreement negotiated by AWUNZ guaranteeing a minimum of 35 hours a week for the “30-40%” of Allied workers who have been with the company for more than six months.

Note: the headline is misleading as it suggests that like the (now almost legendary) 40-hour week, the 35 hours is a maximum above which overtime would be paid, rather than a minimum.

However, my own experience working for Allied, for just a few days, a few years back, shows that even this would be a big improvement.

Each morning labourers had to sign in at Allied’s yard before 6:30am, then you waited to get assigned to a job (there was of course no guarantee that you would get work that day). Then it was into the vans, which wound their away around the industrial areas of southern Auckland dropping off workers. The place I worked was last on the list, which meant I didn’t sign in there (and start getting paid) until after 8.30am.

After work it was the same story. We finished work (and stopped getting paid) about 3, but had to wait to get picked up until after 4, then the slow drive back through Auckland’s traffic to the Allied yard, after 5.

That’s more than 10 hours a day under the Allied’s control, but only around six and-a-half of them paid. And in my case I was never told what the hourly rate was.

Union investigates threats after walkout


Union leaders were today investigating allegations of threats and intimidation towards its members who worked off the job at Heinz-Wattie's to attend an unpaid stop-work meeting yesterday afternoon.
The workers are employed by Allied Workforce and are contracted to work at Heinz-Wattie's.
The Service and Food Workers' Union called the stop-work meeting after Allied Workforce failed to meet a noon deadline to offer union members who work at the factory better conditions and pay rates.
Today the union was to decide whether further action was necessary and if so, it was possible workers would initiate a 24-strike beginning at 10pm tonight.

Union organiser Thomas O'Neil said, however, he had hoped to "get back around the table" with Allied Workforce to resolve work conditions and pay issues.
The union was reluctant to take further strike action when it was in the middle of collective agreement bargaining for seasonal workers at the factory.
The bulk of seasonal work ends in three weeks but the union was keen to secure a collective agreement so it is in place for next year.
About 120 people attended the stop-work meeting, held at Cornwall Park in Hastings, where workers told delegates they had been threatened with dismissal if they attended the meeting.
Others reported erratic payment methods by Allied Workforce: some were paid by cheques which had allegedly bounced, while others were paid in cash to cover deficit from previous pay miscalculations.
Mr O'Neil told the meeting union members were entitled to attend and asked workers to report any incidents of intimidation. "The company (Heinz-Watties) has been told this is strike action and you are within your rights. After this meeting you can go back to the job and you can start work again," he told the union members.
"We understand there are still people working on the line and after this meeting we will walk back to the factory and talk to them to find out if they have been intimidated," he said.
Allied Workforce had appointed consultant Dave Rob, from Grow Human Resources, Hastings, to handle negotiations.
Mr O'Neil told the meeting the latest offer Allied Workforce had put to the union on Friday did not meet expectations.
Union delegate Louise Hauraki, also involved in Friday's meeting with Mr Rob, said she had a few sleepless nights worried about settling a contract for workers. "If we stay together and be strong, we may get what we want." Others workers who spoke at the meeting signalled they were prepared to take further strike action while others asked union delegates if their jobs would still be safe when they returned to work. Heinz-Wattie's public relations co-ordinator Alex Ingle said yesterday's stop-work meeting did not disrupt normal operations at the food processing factory.
The company was not concerned about further possible strike action as it was aware the parties were in negotiations today.
While commenting on the current situation at the Heinz Watties site would provide the public with balance, Allied Work Force was in collective bargaining and was bound by a bargaining process agreement with the union, Allied Workforce chief executive Greg Webster said.
That agreement, which was prepared by the union, prevented the employer from making any comments about bargaining matters.
Mr Webster said the company had upheld this agreement and would continue to act in good faith.

NZ Union wins 35 Hour week
Submitted on 24 June, 2007 - 01:09
From Mike Kyriazopoulos in Auckland
The Amalgamated Workers Union of New Zealand (AWUNZ) has achieved a groundbreaking Collective Employment Agreement with Allied Workforce, one of the major players in the notoriously “precarious” Labour Hire Industry. There are about 100,000 casual workers in NZ, and AWUNZ are planning to make the Allied Collective the model agreement for the industry.
The Agreement includes a number of improvements above the legal minimum. The real coup is a guaranteed 35 hour week for all employees who have been with Allied for over six months (about 30-40% of the workforce), providing a degree of job security for some of the country’s most vulnerable workers.
Representing the culmination of years of patient work by the union, the Collective was unanimously endorsed by a mass meeting of members in Auckland. Already, workers as far away as Whangarei (170km to the north) are joining up on the strength of the agreement.