Casino workers to strike for better weekend conditions

'Apparently incentives are only for very highly paid executives at SkyCity'

Casino workers to strike for better weekend conditions

Workers at SkyCity have voted overwhelmingly to strike to get the company to recognise they should be compensated for the hours they do so that the casino can rake in the cash at nights and weekends.

Almost 900 of the casino’s employees are members of Unite Union, under the SEA-Unite banner and voted 94% to reject the last offer and 97% for strike action at meetings last week.

A strike notice has been issued for 5pm Saturday 31st August to 8am Sunday morning. Mediation is not available until Friday 6th September.

The main union claim is for penal rates at nights and weekends to reward and encourage staff who are willing and able to work these hours and, crucially, allow others some choice about their work hours.

The campaign is called “Back to the Weekend” to underline the rights of employees to be able to choose to spend more weekends with family and friends like most other workers.

Lead negotiator and Unite National secretary Gerard Hehir said the basic problem is that SkyCity needs most of its workers at weekends and nights and makes most of its income during that time.

However, they prefer to use the ‘stick’ rather than the ‘carrot’ to get staff at these times.

According to the union, almost all low paid workers are forced onto rotating rosters irrespective of their personal or family situation.

The union has been trying to negotiate more humane rosters for years but SkyCity refuses any extra pay for nights and weekends.

“Apparently incentives are only for very highly paid executives at SkyCity” said Hehir.

“No-one disputes that there have to be shifts at weekends and nights. The issue is SkyCity should be encouraging staff who can choose to work those shifts – recognising that not all hours are equal.”

The union has offered concessions on the claim but SkyCity has so far rejected any movement on the issue.

READ MORE Unions lash out at overtime pay cut

Skycity site Convenor Joe Carolan said this year the union have fought three re-structures forcing workers to work the unpopular night and weekend shifts.

“Workers are sick of the stick and no carrot, especially since many remember weekend and night rates before politicians and companies took those away,” said Carolan.

“From nurses to bus drivers to teachers and retail workers, a new generation is ready to strike for their rights.

“If we win this at Skycity, we say to the Government – this is a right that all workers in New Zealand should have again. It’s time we undid the damage of the early 90s and bring back the weekend.

 “SkyCity made over $144 million in profit and only last week were boasting about having $450 million in the bank. Time to share.”

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