New Zealand: Call centre workers locked out

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More than 30 market research call centre workers in Auckland have been illegally locked out by their employer Synovate. The lock out started after the workers turned down a tiny pay offer – an increase of only 20 cents an hour! The union, Unite, has responded with pickets and protests.

Just before Easter the company locked the workers out and padlocked the front entrance of the building. The managers put up a notice telling the non-union workers to enter via the back door. In response to this union added their own locks to the front door and used cars and locks to block all other entrances to the building.

The bosses were effectively locked inside for two hours until the union allowed one car to be moved to allow delegates to enter the building to continue the negotiations.

The workers, who are only paid the minimum wage of NZ$12.50, rightly refused the 20 cent per hour pay rise which would not even cover the cost of inflation. Synovate is owned by the Aegis Group based in Britain which made £89.2 million in profits last year. Synovate call centre workers in Australia receive US$22 per hour for the same work.

Yesterday it was revealed that Synovate workers in New Zealand are being used to call into Australia to do research for major banks and insurance companies such as MediBank Private and BankWest. New Zealand research workers are told to lie to Australians over the phone and say they are calling from Perth.

Flying pickets are being organized for Tuesday April 14 in Wellington, Auckland and Melbourne. See details below. To make a donation or to get the latest updates from the union’s website click here.

unite lock out

Wellington: Picket the Ministry of Social Development. 12 noon, Tuesday April 14 Bowen State Building, Bowen St, Wellington.

Auckland: Meet at Unite House to attend the flying picket. 10am Tuesday April 14 outside 300 Queen Street, Auckland.

Melbourne: Picket Medibank Private. 1pm Tuesday April 14 outside 459 Collins Street Melbourne.