Month: October 2018

Blue Star workers on strike!

 

E tū members at Blue Star Group’s four print shops are on a 24-hour strike today, which began at 12:01am this morning.

The workers are taking industrial action after months of very little progress in their employment agreement negotiations. Their agreement expired last year.

Blue Star won’t budge on several unreasonable demands, such as wanting the ability to change shifts without the agreement of affected workers.

Communications Industry Coordinator Joe Gallagher says that’s not good enough.

“Job security and the ability to plan your life around work are key conditions that Blue Star workers both need and deserve,” Joe says.

“There are challenges facing the print sector here and internationally, but that’s no excuse to force workers to accept precarious conditions. So they won’t – and that’s why they are on strike today.

“Employment relationships are a two-way street. Workers wanting continued certainty around their ability to reject shift changes that interfere with their lives is completely reasonable.”

The company is also demanding that workers declare any secondary employment they have, which Joe says is a breach of their right to privacy.

“If a worker needs to pick up a few shifts somewhere else to make ends meet, how is that any of Blue Star’s business? What workers do on their own time shouldn’t factor here.

“Blue Star’s demands clearly demonstrate that their attitude towards their workforce is pretty grim. The company wants all the flexibility and information at their end, without giving a stuff about the workers and their right to organise their own lives.

“Today’s strike action is an escalation after months of failed negotiations, and we are sending a clear message: Come back to the table with reasonable demands, because we won’t stand down.”

ENDS

For more info and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

Labour Inspectorate Chorus report alarming but not surprising

A report released today by the Labour Inspectorate at Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has confirmed how bad the UFB fibre roll-out has been for workers employed by Chorus sub-contractors.

An MBIE investigation into the industry found that 73 of the 75 Auckland-based sub-contractors investigated had breached minimum employment standards. Breaches included employers failing to maintain employment records, pay employees’ minimum wage, pay holiday entitlements, and provide employment agreements.

E tū Communications Industry Coordinator Joe Gallagher says this is alarming, but not surprising.

“We have known about the effect of this contracting model since they started it,” says Joe.

“This model of contracting and sub-contracting has allowed Chorus to pass the buck, resulting in contractors exploiting their workforce to keep to budgets and schedules.

“It has resulted in terrible outcomes for the affected workers, as well as poor delivery of services in many areas.”

Joe says that Chorus need to shoulder the responsibility.

“Chorus have kept their heads in the sand on this for far too long. They have tried to discredit our union and our members when issues have been raised. They have insisted in the past that issues we have raised were isolated events.

“We now have crystal-clear evidence that the systemic exploitation of vulnerable workers is ‘business as usual’ for Chorus and the whole fibre roll-out operation.”

Joe says that political leadership on this issue is needed now more than ever.

“This fiasco is the result of terrible mismanagement from the last National Government. You might say that the model they oversaw seemed like it was designed for these inevitable results.

“Let’s be honest – if E tū hadn’t urged the Labour Inspectorate to investigate, with support from the current Government, this exploitation may have continued unfettered.

“The Government now has to move as quickly as possible to fix this any many other problems with the UFB roll-out. We are optimistic that this Government understands the issues and wants to fix them, but time is of the essence.”

ENDS

For more info and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

Huhtamaki job losses devastating blow

E tū says the loss of 128 jobs at the Huhtamaki factory in Henderson is a devastating blow for workers there.

Union Lead Organiser, Alvin Livingstone says E tū has 150 members at the packaging plant, who have yet to learn who will stay and who will go, with workers experiencing a range of emotions.

“This is a big hit for workers, their families and the west Auckland community. Add the fact that Christmas is looming, and this is very hard news for them,” he says.

Alvin says the company claims it remains committed to manufacturing in New Zealand, “but if these job losses go ahead, Huhtamaki will have laid off over 260 workers in the last eight years.

“The restructure is also disappointing given the company’s half yearly results show strong sales in the Europe-Asia-Oceania region. It’s profitable but obviously not enough to satisfy the company.”

Huhtamaki will now manufacture paper and plastic hot and cold cups, plastic takeaway containers, and wine dividers at its Asian factories.

“It’s just another example of a big multinational deciding to move production somewhere else, at a huge cost to local workers,” says Alvin.

He says the priority now is to explore redeployment options for affected members, as well as job opportunities with local employers for soon-to-be redundant workers.

“The redundancy process will be worked through rigorously to ensure fairness and the best outcome for affected members,” says Alvin.

ENDS.

For further information, contact:

 Alvin Livingstone E tū Lead Organiser, ph. 027549 1410

 

E tū welcomes construction initiatives

E tū says it is supportive of new government initiatives to bolster recruitment and training in the construction industry.

The initiatives, announced in Auckland today, also include new visa rules to make it easier to employ skilled migrants for specific projects.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Ron Angel says the plan means the Government will require the building companies it works with to provide training and skill development, “which we support,” he says.

He says the policy also recognises the industry is changing, with the development of new qualifications in specialised areas such as framing manufacturing and the assembly of prefabricated buildings.

“We’re in favour of this, especially if you get a qualification or credentials and you get extra money for that,” he says.

“It’s also good to see innovative new materials show-cased today, including the XLAN cross-laminated timber and construction process.”

Ron says the establishment of more industry hubs, with all the services needed to maximise recruitment, training and career development is also a sound move.

“We saw these set up in Christchurch after the quakes and they were very effective with a lot of activity generated out of them,” says Ron. “It’s a good idea.”

Ron says the union also supports planned visa changes to expedite the hiring of skilled migrants.

“These were flagged back in June and include the requirement that accredited employers including labour hire companies meet good employment standards and are committed to employing local workers.

“We are supportive of this, given the protections for migrant and local workers, as well as a construction boom that’s expected to last for many years.

“The demand for labour isn’t going to ease in the short term but the priority needs to be local jobs, training and career paths for New Zealand workers.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Ron Angel E tū Industry Coordinator, ph. 027 591 0055