'Trench warfare' as SkyCity employees strike again

Hundreds of SkyCity workers have again walked off the job in what is being described as the largest migrant strike in New Zealand history.

In the second strike in as many weeks, almost 900 employees at the casino refused to work overnight.

Union spokesperson Joe Carolan said SkyCity would not budge at Friday's mediation.

"The company [suggested] union workers wouldn't have to work weekends. But we don't want to do that - we want rights for everybody." 

Unite national secretary Gerard Hehir said Unite was disappointed with SkyCity's approach.

"They simply had no offer at all for increasing rates at weekends and nights. We signalled clearly that this was the issue we needed to negotiate on and have repeatedly offered since then to discuss different options - with no movement at all from SkyCity.

"The only offer was to discuss rosters - but we have been doing that for two years already, and it simply cannot solve the problem on its own. Higher rates for weekends and nights work. They work in for many large 24/7 workplaces in New Zealand and they work for SkyCity itself in their Australian casino."

Protesters outside SkyCity.
Protesters outside SkyCity. Photo credit: Rami Nakhla/Unite/supplied

The union says staff want incentives to be offered for working weekends and nights.

"Some employees will happily make themselves more available for higher pay, which means that others are not forced to continuously work shifts that make their personal and family lives very difficult," said Hehir.

Support is growing, with 50 staff reportedly signing up to Unite since last weekend's strike. 

"This is now into trench warfare," said Carolan. "We're going to slug it out with SkyCity every weekend. Sooner or later all of the casuals and part-timers that they'll try to roster on will get tired."

Ninety-four percent of union members agreed to reject the latest offer.

"The casino economy has to stop at some stage... This will be the largest migrant workers' strike in New Zealand history," said Carolan.

SkyCity said last week it has offered its employees - most of whom are with Unite Union - payrises between 6 and 25 percent over the next two years.

"SkyCity is committed to providing fair opportunities for all our employees and will continue to work with Unite and employees to find a resolution for all," the company said in a statement.

SkyCity reported $144 million in profit last year.

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