Month: February 2019

Fair tax proposal will benefit workers

E tū supports the report released by the Tax Working Group today, which proposes changes to the tax system, including a capital gains tax.

Assistant National Secretary John Ryall says that the proposals would clearly make the tax system fairer.

“It’s unreasonable for workers to pay tax on every hour on the job, while speculators don’t pay a cent on what they make off some investments,” John says.

“No one seriously argues that we don’t need taxation, so it’s easy to understand that everyone should pay their fair share for all the infrastructure and services our taxes pay for.”

“The capital gains tax would also be part of a much-needed intervention in the housing market, where house prices and rents are soaring far beyond acceptable levels.”

However, John says the tax system could still be improved.

“To really tackle inequality, we do need other changes. If lower income earners shouldered less of the tax burden, we would see outcomes improve across society. The costs of poverty affect everyone.

“While the Tax Working Group’s preference is to increase the bottom tax threshold, the report states that ‘a material reduction in income inequality through the personal tax system would require broader income tax changes’ – we think that’s worth exploring, as well as other options outside of the Tax Working Group’s scope.

“We also need to clean up the secondary tax system which sees many low-paid workers doing multiple jobs paying more than they are obliged to.

“While they can claim this overpayment back as a refund, that added layer of complication is unnecessary and means that some workers miss out.”

ENDS

John can be contacted from 4pm on 027 520 1380

Changes urged to Equal Pay Amendment bill

E tū says without key changes to the Equal Pay Amendment bill, few women will be able to successfully pursue an equal pay claim.

E tū Assistant National Secretary, John Ryall appeared before today’s Workforce and Education Select Committee hearing on the bill, together with E tū delegate, Marianne Bishop.

John says the union welcomes the Government’s decision to retain the Equal Pay Act 1972, which the previous National government would have scrapped.

The union is also pleased claimants must no longer prove they have a case before they can lodge a pay equity claim.

“However, too many hurdles remain,” says John.

“The process remains unnecessarily complex and time-consuming, and it needs to be simplified.”

John says the union’s position is founded on the principles of the Joint Working Group on pay equity, as well as the Court of Appeal ruling in the Terranova case which led to the equal pay settlement for care and support workers.

“The court found the Equal Pay Act 1972 was deficient and in need of change, which we support, but we don’t want it changed so it’s more difficult for women to get pay equity.

“There is a risk as things stand of closing the door for other women, because it’s so difficult that people give up.”

E tū delegate and care and support worker, Marianne Bishop says the new bill is an improvement on the Equal Pay Act 1972.

But she says, while women in unions will have support to navigate the process, many individual claimants would struggle.

She says it’s critical all women get the resources they need, including help with comparators so they can argue their case.

“The bill is better than it was but it’s quite complex for an individual person to navigate. Employers will have lawyers to help them but many women will flounder.

“There needs to be a support system – an agency – to help these people through the process,” she says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

John Ryall E tū Assistant National Secretary ph. 027 520 1380

To contact Marianne, please call:

Karen Gregory-Hunt, E tū Communications Officer, ph. 022 269 1170.

Asia Pacific deadliest region for journalists

E tū, the union for journalists says it’s disturbing that the Asia Pacific region has once again been named as the deadliest region for journalists.

The 2018 annual Killed List, released by the International Federation of Journalists and now in its 29th year, records the deaths of 95 journalists and media workers.

A third of deaths were in the Asia Pacific region, where 32 journalists & media workers were killed – 34% of the global total.

It is the second year in a row the region has been named the most dangerous for journalists.

“As the report states, the pursuit of the truth makes journalists unpopular everywhere. In many regions, it’s deadly,” says Paul Tolich, E tū Senior National Industrial Officer.

Paul notes the high death toll in the Philippines, where three journalists died last year – 12 have been killed there since 2016.

The report notes the forces behind the figures, including increasingly polarised views globally, “the rise of dangerous nationalist and populist forces in many countries and the stigmatization of journalists and media by politicians and the enemies of media freedom.”  

“While journalists in this country work in a benign environment, this report is a stark reminder this is not the case for their counterparts in many parts of the world,” says Paul.

“The report is also a testament to the bravery of the many working journalists prepared to risk their lives to shine a light in dark places – despite the risks.”

ENDS

For comment, please contact:

Paul Tolich E tū Senior National Industrial Officer ph. 027 593 5595

The report is available via this link:

https://www.ifj.org/fileadmin/user_upload/IFJ_2018_Killed_Report_FINAL_pages.pdf

E tū critical of Visionstream job cuts

E tū says job cuts affecting 11 technicians who service Chorus’s copper network in Northland may be the start of sweeping changes to the way the network is maintained.

The job cuts were announced today and E tū understands Visionstream, which is contracted by Chorus to run the Northland network is set to replace them with dependent sub-contractors.

“That is the same model used to install Ultra-Fast Broadband, and is closely linked to labour exploitation,” says E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher.

Some 72 sub-contractors face charges related to labour abuses after a sting run by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Joe says the Northland job losses will be very hard for the people involved – “they’ve lost quality, full-time permanent jobs.”

He says the union is also gravely concerned that the sub-contracting model used by Visionstream and favoured by Chorus is about to be rolled out across the whole copper network.

“When a company like Chorus decides to cut costs by using contractors like Visionstream, it means no job is safe. Visionstream appears to have no scruples about how its subbies are treated,” he says.

“We know the sub-contracting model has led to major and near universal exploitation.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Joe Gallagher Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015

IDEA members to vote on strike action

IDEA support and administration member are meeting this month in a series of nationwide meetings to vote on possible industrial action.

Nearly 3000 union members are eligible to attend the meetings which will receive an update on the negotiations which started in December.

The strike vote comes after IDEA pushed for cuts to sick leave rights and demanded staff become more “ flexible” by agreeing to move between workplaces without notice. If passed, the strike action would not be scheduled for April.

For their part union delegates are posing the need to address serious health and safety concerns and restore overtime and weekend pay rights which were slashed by IHC in the 1990s.

The meetings are paid for those staff rostered to attend and IDEA has agreed to release members to attend.

Click here for a full list of meetings.

The result of the strike vote will be known at the end of the month.

DHB OCS workers vote to strike

E tū members employed by hospital contractor, OCS have voted to strike over the company’s failure to agree the same pay deal for them as directly employed DHB workers covered by the new DHB MECA, settled just before Christmas.

The affected members, who work at Hawkes Bay DHB and Wairarapa DHB voted overwhelmingly to walk off the job for 24 hours on 26 February.

The MECA sets the conditions for 4000 hospital service workers and includes pay rises of up to 40 percent over the next three years.

Most directly employed workers have either received their first pay rise, or have a date when the increase including backpay will be paid.

But E tū Industry Coordinator, Sam Jones says for OCS members, there is no settlement, pay rise or back pay in sight.

“OCS has so far failed to respond to members’ claims with respect to the MECA, nor to settle on the same terms.

“It claims there is no settlement yet because of hold ups at the DHB funding end. The DHB says there is no problem, pointing the finger back at the contractor. 

“Either way, this isn’t good enough after the settlement was signed off and promoted by the Ministry of Health, and the Health Minister himself,” says Sam.  

Wairarapa member and OCS contractor, Kerry Hargood says he and his co-workers thought the money would be paid out by Christmas and feelings are running high.

“I’m a sole father on one wage. I turned down extra work because I thought I’d get the pay rise and backpay before Christmas. Now I’ve got books to buy and uniforms for the kids, and I haven’t got the money.  

“We’ve all worked really hard; they’ve told us how wonderful we are, and now it’s come to this. It’s really hurt us all,” he says, “A lot of us thought this was a done deal.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Sam Jones E tū Industry Coordinator, Public Hospital ph. 027 544 8563

If media wish to speak to Kerry Hargood, please contact Karen Gregory-Hunt on ph. 027 6222 345 and we’ll put you in touch.

Westpac leads the pack

E tū congratulates Westpac for becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Westpac is the first bank to become a Living Wage bank, following other large corporates like Vector and AMP.

While the bank’s directly employed staff are not affected, the workers employed by contractors will be getting a big pay bump as the Living Wage is rolled out.

E tū’s Living Wage Lead Organiser, Mat Danaher, says that it’s brilliant news for cleaners, security guards, and others.

“We know that workers employed by contractors can often get left out of the wages discussion. Westpac are showing that to truly be a responsible employer, anyone with regular and ongoing work in an organisation needs to be paid fairly,” Mat says.

“Many E tū members in jobs on or near the minimum wage have seen massive increases thanks to the Living Wage Movement and the employers who are stepping up to the plate.”

Mat says that it’s now time for other banks and wealthy organisations to get on board.

“Let’s face it – Westpac are one of very many organisations who could easily absorb the small cost of bringing workers employed by contractors up to the Living Wage. We’re calling on the other big Aussie banks, and indeed all large, profitable organisations, to take this important step.”

Mat says that organisations moving to the Living Wage has positive effects that reach further than just the workers who get an increase.

“All the evidence says that bringing up wages is the most straight-forward way to address inequality. This has massive flow-on effects for our whole economy. Low pay costs our country billions – through low productivity, poor health and education outcomes, and the government top ups that poverty wages necessitate.

“A big congratulations to Westpac for breaking the cycle. Our members across many industries and organisations are looking forward to achieving the same.”

ENDS

For more information and comment, please send Mat Danaher a text message – 021 336 519