Bad Friday for Crucified Call Centre Workers- what side would Jesus be on, Synovate?

Call centre workers at Synovate in South Auckland were today locked out by their employer. The workers had been negotiating for secure hours and a pay rise of a dollar when they received word by text last night that they would not be allowed to come back to work.

Upon arriving at the call center this morning union members found the front door padlocked shut by the company and a notice telling their non union workers to sneak in by the back door. In response to this attempt to use scab labour, Union officials and members added their own locks to the front door and used cars and locks to block all other entrances to the building. This effectively locked the bosses inside for two hours until the union allowed one car to be moved to allow delegates to enter the building to continue the negotiations.

Unite Union Secretary Matt McCarten told assembled workers that he had dressed in a warm coat and had a razor in his pocket so he could shave before court if he was arrested. Most of the workers seemed positive and genuinely angry at their working conditions particularly that their shifts can be cancelled with no notice. Several however talked about how they could not afford to miss work - this is what the company is undoubtedly relying on to break the unions strength on this site.

Their has been a picket outside Synovate all day and members of the public are urged to come out to the site: 26 Aviemore Drive, Highland Park, East Auckland. At this stage the lockout is indefinite, more details will be posted here as they come to hand.

Follow the struggle online at

Also please text or call the two Directors whose details are on the front door of the building telling them what you think of their illegal lockout.

Ian Mills 021 655139
Debra Hall 021 620394

Contact Details for Synovate Offices

Telephone: +64 9 538 0500
Fax: +64 9 535 9627

Full story and pictures at

Bad Friday for Crucified Call Centre Workers
British Owners order illegal lockout of minimum wage workers
We know what side Jesus would be on

Unite Union Press Release
8.10pm 10/04/09

Over 30 market research call centre workers in Auckland, who are members of the Unite Union have been illegally locked out today by their employer, British multi-national corporation, Synovate. The corporation’s New Zealand managers were instructed by their British senior managers to lock-out the New Zealand workforce after they turned down a pay offer of a measly 20 cents an hour.

Almost all the employees are paid the minimum wage. Yet Synovate, pays their workers in Australia $22 an hour for the same work and increased their wages by 3.5% in January. After six months of negotiations their New Zealand workers are being told that they will stay locked out until they accept Synovate’s 20 cents an hour offer with possibly of another 15 cents an hour in 6 months.

Like hundreds of other call centre workers the Synovate workers are part of the Unite Union’s Calling for Change campaign to improve wages and conditions in Auckland call centres. Synovate workers went on hunger strike in February to draw attention to their low wages and sweatshop conditions. This lock-out comes two weeks after another market research company owned offshore locked out 60 union members . That dispute was settled with those workers receiving compensation for their lock-out as well as a $1 an hour increase.

Synovate is owned by the Aegis Group based in Britain which made £89.2 million in profit last year. In New Zealand Synovate undertakes market research for Ministry of Social Development and ASB Bank.

“These Auckland workers have been crucified over Easter by a multinational corporation that makes millions in profit each year. Synovate treats New Zealand workers as cheap labour and is trying to intimidate their employees to accept poverty wages. We will support these workers in their fight against this bully behaviour and the misuse of power by their employer ”, said Matt McCarten, General Secretary of the Unite Union.

“I know which side Jesus would be on.”

“Synovate clients should expect flying pickets over the weekend and early next week at their offices and shops. These workers will be taking their plight to Synovate’s clients and ask them to tell Synovate not to bully New Zealand workers this way.” concluded Matt McCarten.

The public and media can follow the campaign over the weekend as it unfolds live on The Synovate lock out will be the first New Zealand labour dispute ever publicised and recorded by “tweets”, 101 years after the historic 1908 Blackball miner’s strike.


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