Scoop Independent News
New Zealand's largest casino has begun locking out its workforce in an attempt by the company to force unionised employees to accept a new agreement.
Dozens of Unite Union and Service and Food Workers Union members have already been told not to return to work unless they leave the union and accept a below cost of living wage offer.
Over a thousand union members are affected by the lockout threat, after negotiations for a new collective agreement broke down and industrial action began on New Year's Eve.
The major claims of the union were for a minimum wage of $15 hr for all workers, a cost of living wage increase and for security of hours for part time staff. SkyCity Entertainment Group, which owns the casino projects a massive net profit of $130 million for this year.
"Thousands of casino workers who want a living wage and a fair pay rise this year have been affected by a lockout that is designed to intimidate and shock them into accepting poverty wages and a miserable offer from a very wealthy company," said Unite Union General Secretary Matt McCarten.
"Unite is not intimidated by lockouts and we will attempt to negotiate an end to the dispute today. We hope that the company will meet with us and the workers affected to settle the bargaining with a settlement that both parties can agree to," continued Mr. McCarten.
"SkyCity have decided to lockout their workforce to starve their employees into accepting an offer that will bind our members and their families to poverty wages. We intend to stand our ground and will negotiate a fair settlement today. We do not want to see union members starved into accepting a bad offer.
"We are also asking for everyone who opposes these bully-boy tactics to join us outside the casino today to protest. We will be asking customers to show their support by not going in," concluded Mr McCarten.