On the Picket Line

Assa Abloy workers strike for pay rise in New Zealand

By Felicity Coggan
July 11, 2022

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Thirty workers, members of the E tu union, picketed the Assa Abloy lock manufacturing plant here June 23, part of a 24-hour strike demanding a pay increase.

The plant employs some 80 permanent and 50 temporary workers on 10-hour shifts, four days a week. But union shop steward Ralph Greig, who works nights, said most of his shift put in 10 hours overtime a week to try to keep up with the rising cost of living. “The general perception is that once you work 40 hours, you should be able to sustain yourself and lead a good life,” he told the press.

Assa Abloy bosses have offered a wage raise just above the official government inflation rate, currently at 6.9%.

Workers say this isn’t enough. “We have workers here doing two jobs to earn a living, and quality family time is being compromised,” union organizer Eugene Setu told the Militant. “This is a big international company that’s making millions.”

Based in Sweden, Assa Abloy is one of the biggest “access essentials” manufacturers worldwide, with operations in over 70 countries and 51,000 employees. They make mechanical and digital locks, including the Yale brand, cylinders, keys, tags, security doors, automated entrances, and are expanding into biometric technology. Their net income for the year ending March 2022 was $1.23 billion, a 23.4% increase over the year before.

The majority of workers earn less than 24 New Zealand dollars an hour ($15), and some have been working here for 20 to 30 years, Setu said.