Month: January 2018

Employment relations changes “off to a flying start”

E tū, the biggest private-sector union in New Zealand, is pleased with most of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill announced by the Government today.

E tū National Secretary Bill Newson says that the process is “off to a flying start”, with many improvements for working people and their unions.

Bill says the changes recognise the pressing concerns about the personal and economic cost of low wages and inequality.

“This Government has made fixing inequality a top priority. Wages are a huge factor in this, so strengthening the rights of workers and their unions is critical,” Bill says.

“We see this bill as a big leap forward towards a fair and equitable society.”

Bill says the changes restore many of the rights that were taken away by the last Government.

“We can celebrate some big wins for all workers, such as the restoration of statutory rest and meal breaks and the restoration of reinstatement as the primary remedy to unfair dismissal.”

Bill says working people will also be in a better position thanks to strengthened collective bargaining and union rights.

“Unions will have improved access to workplaces, making unions more available to their members and prospective members. It’s also great that employers will be required to pass on information about active unions – people need to know about the best vehicle for their voice in the workplace. Paid time for union delegates to represent their colleagues will be a much-deserved recognition of the important work that union delegates carry out.

“In short, what we are seeing is the reversal of much of National’s damaging industrial relations policies, along with some exciting new initiatives.”

However, E tū is disappointed that 90-day trial periods could remain for employers with 20 or fewer workers.

“There isn’t a majority in parliament in support of scrapping the 90-day ‘fire at will’ law in its entirety, which is disappointing,” Bill says.

“This is the nature of a coalition government under MMP. It’s now our task, as part of the wider labour movement, to improve this part of the bill.

“We’ll be there at select committees to explain why any ‘fire at will’ law is both unfair and unnecessary.”


Bill Newson will be available for media interviews this afternoon.

For more information or comment:
Bill Newson – 027 538 4246


100 jobs at Juken’s Gisborne mill on the chopping block

Juken New Zealand Ltd (JNL) has announced a proposal to nearly halve its workforce at their East Coast mill in Gisborne.

E tū represents production workers at the mill. E tū Engineering Industry Coordinator Ron Angel says the move would be a big blow to the community.

“As the only significant wood manufacturer in the area, the livelihood of many family relies on jobs at the mill,” Ron says.

“E tū and FIRST Union will be working hard to save these jobs, but the company is very serious about this proposal.”

The company is entering the consultation period today.

“Once such a consultation begins, it’s very difficult to save the jobs that are on the chopping block. This could be the start of some real hardship for many East Coast families.”

Ron says that this proposed downsize, as well as recent news about the likely closure of ABCorp’s Christchurch plastic card manufacturing plant, demonstrates the need for urgent action from the Government to save our manufacturing industry.

“The Labour-led coalition Government has made a strong commitment to protecting working families and helping with decent regional employment opportunities.

“After nine years of a National Government that treated Kiwi workers as an afterthought, we expect the current Government to step up on these issues as a matter of priority.”


FIRST Union President Robert Reid will represent the unions in the media.
For more information or comment, please contact:
Robert Reid – 021 535 933

Dozens to lose jobs as Christchurch card plant set to close

About 50 workers are set to lose their jobs after a prominent plastic card manufacturer has proposed moving operations to Australia.

ABCorp have informed workers of their intention to close their plastic card manufacturing plant in Christchurch by as early as 30 March, after a three-week consultation process.

E tū spokesperson Joe Gallagher said the workers are shocked by the news. While a final decision has not yet been made, the future doesn’t look good.

“It’s really come out of the blue for them and the short consultation period makes us think that the company’s mind is made up,” Joe says.

“Most people will have cards in their wallet that were made at this site. They produce bank cards, ID cards, loyalty cards and a lot more. It’s a real shame that these good kiwi-made products are just the next product to have production moved off-shore.”

Joe says that while the company may offer employment at other sites, this would be unrealistic for most workers.

“Families can’t just up and move to New South Wales. The company has indicated that they may help people find other jobs – we expect them to take the commitment very seriously.”

Joe says that these and other types of jobs could be saved by the Government taking a better look at local procurement, particularly as the closure comes after the company has lost a number of local contracts.

“Our new Government has made a strong commitment to New Zealand workers and their families. We’d like to see a Government-led commitment to local procurement in manufacturing and in fact, across all industries.”


For more info or comment:
Joe Gallagher – 027 591 0015

Moe mai ra Jim Anderton

E tū is saddened by the passing of Jim Anderton, our former Deputy Prime Minister and a huge figure in the Labour Movement.

E tū Assistant National Secretary John Ryall says that Jim’s legacy is a better New Zealand for working people.

“He was bold, hard-working, and courageous. He was known for standing up for what was right, even when it was hard,” John says.

“Workers can thank Jim and the movement he led for policies like four weeks annual leave, the introduction of paid parental leave, and the creation of Kiwibank.

“Jim spent his political career fighting for working people and their families. He had an intrinsic respect and passion for everyday workers, the outcome of which was a powerful voice for workers in parliament, in government, and on the streets.

“The values Jim applied to politics were in many ways exemplary for the wider Labour Movement, particularly as he was so aspirational for a better world.

“The E tū family passes on our condolences to Jim’s wife Carole and their loved ones.”


Silver Fern Farms reduce already inadequate offer after industrial action

Nineteen maintenance workers at Silver Fern Farms Takapau are very disappointed that instead of improving their offer after today’s strike action, the company has made the offer even worse.

Before the workers took industrial action, the company had offered a 1.5% increase as back pay for the nine months prior, followed by 2% increase at the time of settlement.

This low offer came despite the company sending out a memo to staff just two weeks ago that stated that “the Company will post a reasonable profit this year and… that the Takapau plant has a large part to play in achieving that.”

The workers rejected the low offer and voted to take strike action to demand an offer that appropriately recognised their hard and important work.

However, the company has now withdrawn their offer of back pay, apparently demonstrating no desire to give the workers the modest increases they are requesting. The workers have also been suspended for the duration of their industrial action.

E tū organiser Laurel Reid says that the workers are not deterred.

“The 19 maintenance workers were unwavering out on the picket line today, even under a thundery sky, with every intention of continuing to fight for fair recognition of their hard work,” Laurel says.

“The company are playing hardball – that much is clear. But we won’t back down until a fair offer is on the table.”


Media are invited to the picket line tomorrow.
For more information or comment: Laurel Reid – 027 591 0024