Union questions ethical status at Ceres “Certified” Organics as workers strike
Approximately 10 distribution centre workers at Ceres Organics, an “ethical” food supplier, are taking strike action today as the workers’ union accuses the company of failing to meet ethical certification standards.
The distribution centre workers – striking for the second time as the company repeatedly refuses to negotiate over better wages, redundancy entitlements and overtime rates – say Ceres Organics also denied union members their right to natural justice.
“We’re aware of cases where workers at Ceres Organics were denied the right to representation and due process,” said the workers’ representative, FIRST Union organiser Marcus Coverdale.
“It’s not enough for Ceres Organics to just act as an ethical trader, the company has to act as an ethical employer too.”
“Denying people their right to natural justice isn’t the kind of behaviour you’d expect from an ethically certified employer.”
Ceres Organics market their products as fair trade with BioGro as their ‘certifier of choice’. However, unethical employment practices mean that, from the workers’ perspective, the company falls short of the standard required for certification.
“Ceres Organics is a certified organic company and to qualify for certification you have to respect workers’ rights. Refusing to negotiate over wages, denying people their natural justice rights, this isn’t what an ethical company looks like,” said Coverdale.
“In the end our members aren’t asking for much. Just job security, a wage they can live on and respect for their rights. That’s why they’re taking action today.”
Workers will picket outside the Ponsonby Central Markets, Ponsonby, Auckland from 11:30am today. They will also hand out leaflets to customers.