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NZ Rail and Maritime Transport Union takes KiwiRail to court over working conditions

Jun 3, 2015News

After a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment investigation found that Chinese engineers working on KiwiRail’s imported locomotives at the Hutt Workshops were probably not covered under New Zealand employment law, the New Zealand Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) will now test that finding in the courts.

“The RMTU has filed proceedings in the Employment Relations Authority. We are seeking clarity on the status of the Chinese engineers who were contracted to work on KiwiRail’s locomotives. We are also seeking clarification on whether KiwiRail has breached our collective employment agreement with them,” General Secretary Wayne Butson said.

Last year, allegations of exploitation of Chinese engineers working under warranty on KiwiRail’s imported locomotives were revealed. MBIE found that the allegations could not be substantiated, but the investigators did not view wage records before coming to their conclusions.

“After the government refused to seek a clear answer on the status of the Chinese engineers it has been left to the RMTU to clarify the law,” Mr Butson said.

“[New Zealand] Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said that this legal question is ‘something that one can test in the courts’ and the RMTU is taking him up on that offer. We will not let this injustice remain unresolved”

The RMTU has filed in the Employment Relations Authority with an Application for Removal to the Employment Court given the seriousness of the issues.