Plastic company Sistema fights allegations of worker exploitation

Sistema's Auckland factory (Supplied)
Sistema's Auckland factory (Supplied)

One of New Zealand's biggest companies is at loggerheads with the manufacturing union over staff working conditions.

E Tu claims plastic company Sistema pays 400 of its factory workers minimum wage and makes them work 60-hour weeks on 12-hour shifts.

The company has blasted the claims as "completely false", with chief operating officer Drew Muirhead saying they are in negotiations and the union is using "bullying tactics".

"We have a great relationship with our employees and in fact have a waiting list of people who want to work here," he says.

"We are extremely proud of our employment of over 700 New Zealanders, and have done so over the last 34 years."

He says only 26 of their 700 employers are in the union, and 266 employees working there for less than two years are on the minimum wage.

However, E Tu manufacturing coordinator Anita Rosentreter says the company is only meeting the minimum requirements and the health and safety of employees is a serious concern.

"The workers are exhausted all the time," she says.

"They barely have any time to relax, they barely have any time to spend with their family. They find the long hours and repetitive movements are causing aches and pains."

She claims they have been trying to negotiate for better working conditions for years, but the company doesn't listen.

"This is a company that discourages its workers of being part of the union. It discourages workers from having a voice in the workplace. And when concerns have been raised in the past by workers, whether they're union members or not, the response has been: 'Don't like it? Get another job.'"

Mr Muirhead says they're "disappointed and frustrated" the union has gone to the media mid-negotiations.