Jamie Gray

Jamie Gray is a business reporter for the New Zealand Herald and APNZ wire agency

Fisher & Paykel workers locked in pay dispute

Workers at Fisher and Paykel Healthcare's East Tamaki plant are planning strike action on Wednesday.
File photo
Workers at Fisher and Paykel Healthcare's East Tamaki plant are planning strike action on Wednesday. File photo

About 900 workers at Fisher and Paykel Healthcare's Highbrook, East Tamaki, plant will hold stop-work meetings before their planned strike action takes place on Wednesday.

Fisher and Paykel's Healthcare's production, maintenance and distribution workers are represented by the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) and the National Distribution Union.

The EPMU's director of organising, Rachel Mackintosh, told APNZ that mediation last week did not resolve the matter "so the planned action is still on''.

"There will be a series of stopwork meetings for the membership tomorrow (Tuesday) to make sure that everyone is well informed,'' she said.

The EPMU - New Zealand's biggest private sector trade union - had sought a 5.7 per cent pay increase while Fisher and Paykel Healthcare had offered 3 per cent for 11 months, followed by a further 2 per cent for 11 months.

The consumers price index rose by 5.3 per cent over the June year and the unions said the escalating cost of living was behind their claims.

Negotiations for the renewal of the company-wide collective agreement have been going on for more than three months.

The company, which was once part of Fisher and Paykel Industries before it was split into healthcare and appliance divisions in 2001, designs, makes and markets products and systems for use in respiratory care, acute care, and the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea.

Under the essential services provisions of the Employment Relations Act 2000, the unions were required to give 14 days' notice of industrial action. This notice, which was lodged on September 6, provided for a reduction in factory output.

"The planned action is designed to ensure no health risk to company clients, but sends a strong message that Fisher and Paykel Healthcare employees are prepared to take action for what is fair,'' the EPMU said then.

Fisher and Paykel Healthcare's net profit after tax but before non-recurring deferred tax charges was $64 million in the year to March 31, down 11 per cent from the previous year, reflecting the strength of the New Zealand dollar and expenses relating to the establishment and expansion of manufacturing facilities in Mexico.

The company's shares last traded at $2.23, unchanged from Friday's close. The share price has been in a steep decline since hitting $3.30 last October.

- APNZ

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