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Is Graeme Hart exporting NZ egalitarianism or Union Crushing Scrappers?

By   /  November 1, 2013  /  5 Comments

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Is Graeme Hart exporting NZ egalitarianism or the Union Crushing Scrappers so grotesquely celebrated on the Auckland Waterfront? What type of NZ entrepreneur does Hart want to be? One that champions NZs egalitarian principles or one that brings disgrace to our country?

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The furore over the revisionist celebration of Union crushing goon squads in public art on the Waterfront is a reminder of the brutal manner in which NZ history is littered with examples of violence meted out to organized labour.

It is the right who have always been prepared to use violence and state intimidation towards the workers and Unions of NZ. It is a history that is forgotten and distorted and leads to public art celebrating vigilante militia like the ‘Massey Cossacks’ as ‘Lovers of Auckland’.

Under the National Government, industrial relations have increasingly become more sour and bitter. The un-costed Ports of Auckland fiasco that saw a workers personal employment details leaked and used against him, the AFFCO dispute where the company were prepared to let 5000 children starve during their viscous tactics with the Meat Workers Union, and a Government intent on passing even more draconian employment law all add up to a low level civil war where class is never mentioned.

Against this back drop, enter one of NZ’s richest men, Billionaire Graeme Hart. Unlike Bruce Wayne, Graeme doesn’t seem to be exhibiting much of the milk of human kindness when it comes to the actions of companies he owns.

In 2011 a company called Pactiv LLC purchased six Dopaco plants in Stockton, California and remains the owner at this present time. Pactiv LLC is a part of Reynolds Group Holdings Limited, which is owned and controlled by Rank Group Ltd., a privately held investment company located in Auckland, New Zealand. Graeme Hart is the principal, strategic owner of Rank Group and is one of the richest men on the planet, with an estimated fortune of $6.1 billion.

So what is happening in Stockton, California that’s so rotten its smell has wound up here in NZ?

US based Unionists tell TDB that the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers, a west coast US union, has represented roughly 400 workers at the Pactiv plant in Stockton, California (known as Dopaco plant until 2011) since 1982, making fast food cups and the plastic lids for the cups and fast food containers such as the fry and sandwich containers. Customers include Starbucks, McDonalds, and most major US fast food companies.

The bargaining relationship between the AWPPW and Pactiv (Dopaco) has always been good until this round of bargaining. There were never any strikes, lockouts or job actions associated with the collective bargaining process.

Currently there are several long-term employees in Stockton who have been with the Company since the early eighties. The Stockton plant was the most productive plant when it was well managed. The Stockton plant was a model to other facilities and many of the Stockton employees were utilized to provide training, process analysis and maintenance services to the other Dopaco plants. It is no coincidence that this plant has become less efficient under Pactiv management.

Dopaco Stockton was a success because their management believed in “listen to the experts.” They knew that the people running their equipment knew best what was needed to make things run better because they actually did the work. The employees helped to make decisions on the course of action(s) to take to improve operations. Today under Pactiv there is virtually no employee involvement in the process despite constant pleading from the Union and employees to management to involve the employees.

The London Ontario plant was the first of the Dopaco legacy plants to bargain a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with Pactiv. The Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) settled an Agreement with Pactiv in January of 2013. The CAW 2013 CBA with Pactiv includes the elimination of the defined pension benefit for all future employees and the use of temporary agency employees for up to 12% of the total employee headcount.

The Stockton California plant is the second of Dopaco legacy plants to negotiate a CBA with Pactiv. AWPPW began negotiations in November of 2012 and are currently still bargaining for a fair contract. Unionists tell TDB that Pactiv has no intention of bargaining a fair agreement with the Union. The Company spokesperson, Erin Ahearn, notified the Union in opening discussions that the Union could strike or do whatever they deemed necessary, but in the end the Company would have the concessions they were demanding.

The Company’s demands include the freezing of the defined pension benefit, the elimination of the paid lunch break, the use of an unlimited amount of temporary agency employees and an inferior health and welfare plan. The Company’s proposal to eliminate the paid lunch period would cut the employees to 37.5 hours a week and would equate to a 6.25% wage cut.

The employees and their union have begun a public campaign to urge Pactiv to stop pushing for concessions, currently focused on Starbucks and McDonalds.

These workers deserve better than wholesale slashing and burning of their hard earned benefits and Graeme Hart can’t hide his ownership of this type of wholesale exploitation.

Is Graeme Hart exporting NZ egalitarianism or the Union Crushing Scrappers so grotesquely celebrated on the Auckland Waterfront? What type of NZ entrepreneur does Hart want to be? One that champions NZs egalitarian principles or one that brings disgrace to our country?

Graeme Hart should contact Pactiv CEO John McGrath at 847-482 2264 and urge him to settle a concession free contract with AWPPW Local 83 as soon as possible so that he can set his legacy righteously.

He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!

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5 Comments

  1. Countryboy says:

    ” Under the National Government, industrial relations have increasingly become more sour and bitter. ”

    That is indeed true . But remember , it was Labour who excreted douglas et al . He was the one who crushed the Unions . It was Labour politicians who threw us all onto the scrap heap . That must never be forgotten for a very important reason .

    The reason is the neoliberal toxins that poisoned Labour as an example of the subterfuge used to swindle us all by the likes of hart , fay , richwhite , brierly , fletcher etc .

    They certainly are entrepreneurs and if there’s one thing you can say about a wealthy entrepreneur is that you’d best not get between them and a dollar

    They couldn’t give one single little sparrow of a flying fuck about New Zealand or it’s people . Clearly ! And why should they ? They’re not in the business of ‘caring’ . They’re in the business of personal wealth creation and isn’t that why we get up and go to work ? To create private wealth ?

    Sure , the rich scum have stolen our money and our time . Time we could have better spent on our glorious old planet but the real fiends here are our politicians who brokered the deals .

    We all know who those politicians are and we should never give them a moments peace .

    The real project here should be tracking those politicians down and investigating their relationships with those mentioned above and others who’ve gone to ground .

    Labour splitting into two opposing factions wasn’t as a consequence of clashing ideals so much as a structured take-over and the Labour Party was the wooden horse .

    The gap between the rich and the poor in NZ isn’t an ‘ Oh my , how did that happen ? ‘ moment . It’s a deliberate move to silence dissent and investigation by keeping people shackled to debt , fear , anxiety and financial uncertainty .

    The gap between Rural NZ and Urban NZ was prized open to allow those few to divide and profit . They’ve created an entire culture around a lie and they use that script to set us at each other while they profit .

    The detail to which you refer in your Post is a very small part of a large and complex machine built by liars and swindlers . New Zealands beautiful exterior hides a dirty , filthy pack of mongrels scrapping for the spoils .

    It’s nothing new of course . It just really winds me up to think they’re still getting away with it .

  2. Ovicula says:

    I am confused by this blog. Since when has the cause of workers been advanced by asking one of the world’s richest men to be nice? Who are these entrepreneurs that champion NZ’s egalitarian principles? Are you applying for a job in the Engineers’ Union? This is the worst blog of yours that I have ever seen. It could have been written by Richard Prebble or Roger Douglas before they stopped pretending and formed ACT. What has happened?

  3. […] Stockton, labor conditions have also declined in the last year, say workers. Ever since Pactiv’s takeover, they claim, the workload has […]

    • Nick Burton says:

      How ridiculous, who gets paid for having lunch?? This is an example of a union thinking they are still in the dark ages!! Businesses need to be able to change the labour pool as and when workloads dictate. The employees need to look at how unrealistic their demands are. Sounds like they are all upset because they don’t get consulted about every decision any more.

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