Sistema workers allowed to go home on full pay after 'essential service' order leads to strike

Workers at Sistema won't be made to work through the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, after strikes yesterday protesting the company's decision to stay open.

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Concerned about working during lockdown, workers walked off the job in protest. Source: 1 NEWS

Yesterday, Sistema bosses told staff that the factory would keep running as it was deemed an essential service.

It led to workers walking out on the job in protest, with employees also claiming a lack of health and safety requirements including physical distancing.

Tonight E Tu Union's Mat Danaher confirmed Sistema is now going to shut down over the four-week lockdown.

Its workers will get four weeks of paid leave, he told 1 NEWS.

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"This is the best possible outcome," he says.

"Workers were very worried about going to work and putting their families at risk."

In a letter to staff yesterday, Sistema said it would remain open because of "continued demand" in storage for food and beverages, especially now the public were eating at home.

“As a manufacturer of food storage, lunch and hydration categories, our business is deemed necessary to support New Zealand’s essential services,” the letter given to workers read.

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When asked yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she wasn't sure whether Sistema would be classified as an essential service but encouraged people to work from home if they could.