Workers who deliver hundreds of tonnes of Gib to worksites across Auckland every day are on strike for better pay.
About 40 truckers and laborers picket the Penrose base of the delivery company they work for, CV Compton.
They want an 11% raise, but the company has offered much less.
Truck driver Hori Potaka said the cost of living was causing them hardship while those higher up the Gib Range were making big profits.
“Gib is not an easy job. Everybody wants it right now and it’s worth gold and I think we’re worth gold because we deliver it and they can’t get their Gib without us .”
Assistant driver James Ramea has worked for CV Compton for a decade.
If it felt like those delivering Gib had fallen out of the value chain, he said.
“Their mark is 300 tonnes a day and if we exceed that both companies, Winstone Wallboards and CV Compton, get a bonus and nothing is shared with the workers.”
It took time to train the workers to deliver the plasterboard, but they often lasted less than a week on site because it was heavy work, Ramea said.
“It comes on pallets, sizes ranging from 2.4m to 6m and the health and safety regulations we are starting from is for a 30kg single person lift.”
Fellow driver and shop steward Rick said he usually delivers three 10-tonne loads a day.
“We want to be paid what we’re worth. We’re worth more than that, but that’s what we want right now.”
First Union organizer Emreck Brown said CV Compton was paying its drivers below market rate at $26 an hour – compared to the benchmark of $30.
“I hope the company will come and meet us at 11%, just so our members can live comfortably and get by week after week.”
Gib was in high demand and those delivering the plasterboard were working hard, he said.
“Gib’s prices have gone up over the last couple of years and this year they’ve gone up dramatically. We need the support of the business just to help the members who are helping the business.”
Ramea said some members were facing financial difficulties, but it was not something they liked to admit.
After the rent and household expenses, he had little left in his pocket to feed himself.
“One hundred bucks has to go to food and your vehicle, that’s pretty hard. You have to depend on your other half or your family for support and no grown man wants to depend on his family. That’s enough. embarrassing.”
The shop steward and assistant to the Wiki driver said: ‘Every gesture matters to us, we are all struggling and we need it. That’s why we are here today.’
The strike will continue until the end of the week unless an agreement is reached.
CV Compton has been approached for comment.