Paul Watson from the National Distribution Union (NDU) has applauded the decision of an Otago company to implement the nine day working fortnight.

Summit Wool Spinners in Oamaru are in negotiation with the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) on how the nine day fortnight can be used.

Summit, says Watson, is looking to make use of the subsidy to reduce shifts from 10 to nine hours for a period of six months.

What Watson didn't say is that Summit reduced its shifts from 12 hours to ten hours in November last year.

So are workers are expected to wear another wage cut? If so, what exactly is Watson applauding?

Watson is claiming that this proposal will 'save jobs' but what he also neglected to mention is that 45 workers of the 315 staff have already taken voluntary redundancy. That's a little under a sixth of the workforce.

Workers were told by both the management and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) that job losses were on the cards and management encouraged workers to take redundancy by offering more than was provided for in the employment contract.

According to Company director Ricky Hammond-Tooke the 'reconfiguration' of shifts and shifts 'could 'involve the reductions in wages in some cases.'

But EPMU national secretary Andrew Little said this last month:

“Our members are telling us they can’t afford to take another hit in the pocket, they’re already paying for the recession through lost overtime and shift allowances and they’re not in a position to bear any more.

“Workers didn’t cause this recession and it’s not on to expect them to pay the price. Unless employers are willing to meet this subsidy with a substantial top-up of their own it’s unlikely to be accepted by workers.

“As far as the EPMU is concerned, this will be a bottom line.”

It'll be interesting to see whether the EMPU applies this bottom line at Summit Wool Spinners.

And while the NDU's Paul Watson might be claiming that jobs are being saved, Alliance Party President Paul Piesse has made a far more accurate observation about the nine day working fortnight.

He has pointed out that companies are not 'saving jobs' - they are simply required to withhold any redundancies for six months. At the same time, they will be cutting back on wages with the government providing a subsidy that doesn't fully compensate for the lost wages.

Summit Wool Spinners is owned by Sumitomo Corporation which is one of Japan's largest general trading companies.


  1. Wny did Watson feel obliged to comment? Perhaps he's doing some PR for the EPMU or are the NDU cooking up something?
    I noted your comment on Paul Piesse and The Allance. Just two months ago Andrew Little described The Alliance as 'hard left' which just goes to show just how right wing Little is.


Comments are moderated.