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Topic # 239688 30-Jul-2018 16:41
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Staff at Sistema factory demand better work conditions and more than minimum wage
By John Anthony

"Staff are 'fed up' with being paid minimum wage while working 60 hour weeks for New Zealand plastic container manufacturer Sistema, a union says.

Sistema, which was bought for $660 million 18 months ago by a US Fortune 500 company, produces containers that have become a staple in New Zealand kitchens and workplace tearooms.

The union representing workers at Sistema says the company is not only failing its staff on pay rates, but health and safety as well.

But the company has hotly denied the allegations - which includes a social media post of a worker who apparently blistered his fingers working at the company's Mangere factory

Et tū union has been in talks with the company to try to secure better pay and conditions for its mainly migrant workers. Of the 500 production staff that work at its purpose built Mangere plant, about 200 are union members.

E tū advocate Neville Donaldson said more than 80 per cent of its workers were paid minimum wage of $16.50 an hour.

Staff were required to work five 12-hour shifts a week, with some of the shifts being graveyard, he said.

Workers were also required to pick up additional work and 'overtime' rates were just $2 more per hour, he said."

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/105851352/staff-at-sistema-sweatshop-demand-better-work-conditions-and-more-than-minimum-wage

Hard to believe this is happening in New Zealand.

I thought this was only in the US and other third world countries.



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  Reply # 2065089 30-Jul-2018 16:47
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I'm really curious - would you prefer a minimum wage factory in NZ which is employing unskilled NZers or the factory to be moved to a foreign country where wage costs will be even lower and those people ending up unemployed?

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 2065095 30-Jul-2018 17:00
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Arguments between E-tu and Sistema pre-date the buyout, and the current union statement is almost a cut and paste from 2016

 

https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/sistema-employees-need-painkillers-get-through-day-former-exploited-migrant-workers-claims

 

"The major plastics manufacturer Sistema has been called "New Zealand's very own sweatshop", by a union that says it forces hundreds of migrant workers to work 12-hour days."

 

However, Sistema said in a statement the union's claims were completely false and that it was using "bully tactics".

 

https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/312876/plastics-factory-like-%27nz%27s-own-sweatshop%27-union

 

I suspect the main issue is this one from 2016...

 

"The union said it had been trying to negotiate a collective agreement since February."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 2065097 30-Jul-2018 17:03
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It's been happening for decades in NZ. 

 

Next step is to deliver the message that if they had to increase costs by improving wages and conditions, then they'll pack up and move production to a lower wage economy - and it's the worker's fault because they demanded too much.  There are after all, hundreds of millions of people who'd love to work 60 hours a week @ $16.50 / hour - they probably don't get $16.50 a day in a plastic factory in China or Vietnam etc,

 

In that case (plastic containers), the plastic raw material is all imported anyway, the end product is exported, the only reason to stay is if there's significant existing infrastructure and a high cost to shift it elsewhere.

 

The argument for "allowing" it (not that it can be stopped unless there were interventionist / protectionist policies) is that if the workers are on minimum wage, migrate them to higher skilled jobs in other industries which are sustainable. How well that plan has been going is a great question.

 

 


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  Reply # 2065099 30-Jul-2018 17:07
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So next step is to move the factory to China


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  Reply # 2065110 30-Jul-2018 17:15
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I like how opinions are it's either status quo or pack up and move the factory to China... It's like this country is void of a middle ground or improving conditions for people at the lower end. But I guess when you have countries around the world you can dump anything and everything in including cheap labour this will always be how people look at the issue...


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  Reply # 2065128 30-Jul-2018 18:17
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Those saying "move production to China", are you aware that one of the major success factors of the Sistema brand (and its products) is that it's made in New Zealand (with our "clean green" image on the international stage)?

 

If it were to move to China, it'd just be another plastics brand competing against many others.


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  Reply # 2065131 30-Jul-2018 18:25
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sdav:

 

I like how opinions are it's either status quo or pack up and move the factory to China... It's like this country is void of a middle ground or improving conditions for people at the lower end. But I guess when you have countries around the world you can dump anything and everything in including cheap labour this will always be how people look at the issue...

 

 

But the shareholders...


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  Reply # 2065132 30-Jul-2018 18:27
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Benjip:

 

Those saying "move production to China", are you aware that one of the major success factors of the Sistema brand (and its products) is that it's made in New Zealand (with our "clean green" image on the international stage)?

 

If it were to move to China, it'd just be another plastics brand competing against many others.

 

 

 

 

With plastic becoming public enemy #1 it won't be long before that counts against us rather than for us.  


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  Reply # 2065134 30-Jul-2018 18:30
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sdav:

 

I like how opinions are it's either status quo or pack up and move the factory to China... It's like this country is void of a middle ground or improving conditions for people at the lower end. But I guess when you have countries around the world you can dump anything and everything in including cheap labour this will always be how people look at the issue...

 

 

I am just thinking about F&P and other similar companies that have done that.

 

You can't tell a private company what to do.

 

You can suggest, but can't make them do it.


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  Reply # 2065135 30-Jul-2018 18:32
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Benjip:

 

Those saying "move production to China", are you aware that one of the major success factors of the Sistema brand (and its products) is that it's made in New Zealand (with our "clean green" image on the international stage)?

 

If it were to move to China, it'd just be another plastics brand competing against many others.

 

 

Making plastic in a green country makes plastic green?


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  Reply # 2065137 30-Jul-2018 18:40
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They should be lucky they get what they do. New Zealand has the highest minimum wage as a percentage of the mean wage in the world.

 

The real cause of the problem is their poor  education.  Why aren't these people robotics engineers or geneticists or AI programmers etc....

 

I wonder why a high quality chinese product hasn't supplanted sistema . Sistema must have some pretty decent sales people. 

 

The whole thing about sistema being a NZ product is a bit rich... I know of a guy who was manufacturing LPG cylinders for the warehouse... but they dumped him for chinese suppliers and put him out of business. 

 

They even wrote a book about it ...

 

https://nzbooks.org.nz/2007/non-fiction/not-everyone-gets-a-bargain-linda-burgess/

 

 


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  Reply # 2065140 30-Jul-2018 18:53
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Bisphenol-A free branding and the trust associated with that must be a big factor.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisphenol_A


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  Reply # 2065147 30-Jul-2018 19:07
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Batman:

 

sdav:

 

I like how opinions are it's either status quo or pack up and move the factory to China... It's like this country is void of a middle ground or improving conditions for people at the lower end. But I guess when you have countries around the world you can dump anything and everything in including cheap labour this will always be how people look at the issue...

 

 

I am just thinking about F&P and other similar companies that have done that.

 

You can't tell a private company what to do.

 

You can suggest, but can't make them do it.

 

 

 

 

I recall the previous owner putting a clause into the purchase of Sistema that they had to keep production in NZ for a certain number of years


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  Reply # 2065166 30-Jul-2018 19:18
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Fred99:

 

It's been happening for decades in NZ. 

 

Next step is to deliver the message that if they had to increase costs by improving wages and conditions, then they'll pack up and move production to a lower wage economy - and it's the worker's fault because they demanded too much.  There are after all, hundreds of millions of people who'd love to work 60 hours a week @ $16.50 / hour - they probably don't get $16.50 a day in a plastic factory in China or Vietnam etc,

 

In that case (plastic containers), the plastic raw material is all imported anyway, the end product is exported, the only reason to stay is if there's significant existing infrastructure and a high cost to shift it elsewhere.

 

The argument for "allowing" it (not that it can be stopped unless there were interventionist / protectionist policies) is that if the workers are on minimum wage, migrate them to higher skilled jobs in other industries which are sustainable. How well that plan has been going is a great question.

 

 

 

 

A business has to provide a safe, legitimate workplace for its staff, but aside from that it has to make the best return it can for its shareholders. If the staff costs go above a certain point it inevitably becomes more profitable to move the jobs to a lower cost location or to automate them. If not, some competitor is probably going to undercut, the business will die off and the jobs will go anyway. There's only one way of escaping this trap and that's for the workforce to be better educated, better trained and more productive so businesses can deliver higher valued goods and pay the staff more. 

 

Raising the minimum wage for an export based business without raising the value of the product has only one outcome.


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  Reply # 2065167 30-Jul-2018 19:20
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Fred99:

 

sdav:

 

I like how opinions are it's either status quo or pack up and move the factory to China... It's like this country is void of a middle ground or improving conditions for people at the lower end. But I guess when you have countries around the world you can dump anything and everything in including cheap labour this will always be how people look at the issue...

 

 

But the shareholders...

 

 

... own the company so get to direct their own possession as they see fit?

 

 


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