Industrial disputes

The Spark August 2010


Housekeepers at the Rendezvous Hotel in central Auckland had been faced with the same trick by management every time collective bargaining came around: the company invariably delayed the settlement, cheating the workers out of months worth of back pay.

This year the company’s offer was 1.5% to cover them until June 2012 (the workers had got nothing last year), and the bosses also wanted to take one day’s sick leave entitlement off them. The workers, members of the SFWU, responded with a one day strike on the day that a big conference was being held at the hotel. The company retaliated with a lockout of the workers that lasted 13 days.

The union challenged the legality of the lockout in court, but lost that battle. The dispute was finally settled at mediation with an increase of 25c per hour (the equivalent of just under 2% for most of the workers), the term of the agreement was reduced to one year and the workers retained their sick day. The expiry of the current Collective Agreement is well timed to coincide with the Rugby World Cup.

A particularly shocking aspect of the dispute was that WINZ did not pay a cent of benefits to any of the locked out workers who were on work permits. This blatant discrimination against workers on the basis of their immigration status is something the union movement has to challenge!

When the lockout ended, the workers resolved not to work through their rest breaks as many of them had done previously, and instead maintain the solidarity they had built up on the picket line by all taking their breaks together.


Workers at Paper Reclaim, Auckland’s largest paper recycling company went on strike for a $1 per hour pay increase. After 10 days on strike, the 32 NDU members won their extra dollar. The strikers had benefited from sympathetic coverage on the Campbell Live TV programme.


  1. Barrie (AWSM) says:

    Just curious…what was the big conference planned for that hotel?

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