SkyCity cleaners beat contracting out

5 Dec

By John Crocker, SkyCity SEA-Unite organiser

SEA-Unite has finally claimed victory in our 6 month campaign to oppose the outsourcing of the Cleaning Services department. The decision of the Employment Relations Authority that SkyCity was not compliant with the unions’ Collective Agreement was delivered Friday 14th of November and effectively blocks the outsourcing of the cleaners.

The union’s campaign against the proposed outsourcing began in May with the initial consultation process. Multiple submissions were made, in writing and at meetings, regarding the proposal. SEA-Unite pointed out flaws in the process, breaches of good faith, bad results with outsourcing cleaning in the past as well as the whole proposal being against SkyCity’s core values and its commitments in the Collective Agreement. These consultations did not convince SkyCity but laid the groundwork for the later ERA case.

At the same time SEA-Unite began an industrial campaign to show SkyCity how strongly staff felt in opposition to the proposal. First the union circulated a petition that gathered an amazing 770 signatures to show just how widespread the opposition was. Then the cleaners themselves wrote letters to the CEO. There was a photo campaign as well. Lastly there was a picket, the first since 2011 to show how strongly the opposition was felt.

SkyCity workers with petition

When SkyCity insisted on proceeding, against overwhelming worker opposition and their own stated values, the unions adopted a legal approach, first attending mediation and then filing the case with the Authority. The hearing took place over two days in late October with over half the affected cleaners in attendance and many giving evidence.

The Employment Relations Authority found that SkyCity was in breach of section 2 of the Collective Agreement which deals with SkyCity’s obligations towards employees as well as section 4 of the Employment Relations Act which deals with good faith.

This is a big deal for all workers at SkyCity! This decision stops SkyCity from outsourcing the cleaners and sets the bar high for any future outsourcing of any department. SEA-Unite showed SkyCity how far we will take things when we know they’ve got it wrong. This was possible due to the hundreds of union members at SkyCity, their support and the strength of the unions.

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