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SkyCity Casino Workers in Auckland Set to Strike Over Working Hours

Auckland SkyCity casino workers are set to embark on strike action over unfavourable working hours. About 97% of the 900 employees who are under the Unite Union recently voted in favour of the strike. They are trying to force SkyCity to reimburse casino staff and set up incentives for working “unsociable hours” which include nights and weekends. Coincidentally, these are the times when SkyCity makes the most money.

The strike will start on August 31 at 17:00 and end in the morning of September 1. The union and its SkyCity casino workers have grown tired with the company’s approach to dealing with them, said lead negotiator and Unite National secretary Gerard Hehir. “SkyCity needs most of its workers at weekends and nights and makes most of its income during that time – but prefers to use the ‘stick’ rather than the ‘carrot’ to get staff [to work] at these times,” he said.

SkyCity casino workers Unite Union NZ

Currently, all low-paid SkyCity casino workers are in a rotating roster. They have to work regardless of their personal or family situation. This means that those who can’t really afford to work weekends or nights have to show up whether they want to or not. The Unite Union has been at the negotiation table with the casino for years, arguing for a more humane roster that incentivises people but SkyCity has been refusing to pay extra for the unsociable hours. “Apparently incentives are only for very highly-paid executives at SkyCity,” Hehir said.

SkyCity Casino Workers Grievances

According to the union, SkyCity coined NZ$144 million in profits this year so far. Furthermore, according to its 2019 Annual Report, CEO Graeme Stephens got nearly $2.4 million in incentives this year. Additionally, SkyCity’s top 86 executives each got a share of the $4.6 million incentives package along with their salaries.

What SkyCity casino workers want is for the company to recognise that not all hours are equal. They are calling for penalty rates to be awarded for nights and weekends. Firstly, this will encourage staff who able to work these hours to do so. And secondly, to give employees some choice about their working hours. The campaign, called “Back to the Weekend” is essentially about highlighting the rights of employees to be able to choose and spend more weekends with their families or doing what they want.

According to SkyCity site convenor Joe Carolan, SkyCity has so far refused to move on the issue. Furthermore, this strike SkyCity casino workers are embarking on it about worker’s rights as a whole.

“This year the union has fought three restructures forcing workers to work unpopular nights and weekend shifts. If we win this at SkyCity, we say to the government: this is a right that all workers in New Zealand should have again. In this time, we undid the damage of the early 1990s and brought back the weekend,” he said.

Auckland SkyCity casino workers are simply asking for what workers at the Adelaide, Australia branch get. After all, the Auckland workers generate the vast bulk of SkyCity’s company income.

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