Author: E tū

E tū: false complaints delay power fix

E tū is issuing a plea for people to stop making false complaints about power outages, as lines crews work around the clock to reconnect Aucklanders after last week’s massive storm.

The common feedback from our members is that this is the most extensive damage they have seen resulting from large trees being ripped out of the ground and over the lines.

The power remains out in parts of West Auckland, with isolated outages in some suburbs.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says Vector and their contractors, Northpower and Electrix have brought in significant extra staff from outside of the Auckland region and crews are working long hours to get the power back on.

“We’d congratulate our many members working on this. They’ve been working basically non- stop since last Tuesday,” says Joe.

“In some cases, guys have had to be stood down because they’ve reached their fatigue hours – they’re working about 70 hours a week.”

Joe says the public is largely supportive of the crews and while most call-outs are genuine, some are not and that has put pressure on everyone working to reconnect Aucklanders.

“Some people ring up, saying, “Our power’s out,” only to find that the main switch was left off at the meter board as a safety precaution by private electricians.  So, the crews turn up, and there’s no problem.  But every time that happens, they can’t respond to someone else who needs their help.

“I would appeal to these people – do some basic checks first. You wouldn’t call an ambulance if it’s not an emergency, so consider if you really need help,” says Joe.

Joe says the safety of the crews on the ground is absolutely paramount for all concerned.

ENDS

For more information, contact;

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015

Cadbury members stoked over Highlanders tickets

E tū says former Cadbury workers are hugely looking forward to this Saturday’s Highlanders vs Brumbies game, which they will be able to attend for free.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Phil Knight approached the Highlanders about making tickets available for a home game, as a fillip for redundant workers following the Cadbury closure.

The franchise agreed and has allocated 360 free double passes to the game.

“We thought the Highlanders are iconic to Dunedin in a similar way to which Cadbury has been, and that perhaps the team would be interested in marking the fact that those people are now without a job,” says Phil.

“We just thought they might want to share a bit of love and it would be great to see the team recognise the contribution these workers have made to the city.”

He says he was “stoked” when the team said yes, with workers emailing the union to say how pleased they are.

“It’s absolutely a shot in the arm for them. It just shows the recognition among the Dunedin population about what a great loss to Dunedin those jobs are,” says Phil.

“This is a great chance for the workers to share some time together and also thank their local communities for their support over what has been a turbulent year for them, with uncertain times still ahead for many.”

The Highlanders Chief Executive, Roger Clark says, “The Highlanders, DVML and Ticket Direct know that Cadbury employees have experienced the stress of redundancy recently.

“We all enjoy a tremendous amount of support from our community and this is a small way in which we can repay that support,” says Mr Clark.

The tickets are all in the south stand and redundant workers can collect their tickets from the south stand box office this Friday or Saturday.  Eligible workers will need to bring photo I.D to secure their tickets.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator, Food ph.027 591 0053.

 

 

 

Thursday last day at Cadbury

E tū is standing tall with our members at Cadbury, ahead of the last day of work for most remaining staff.

Engineering workers will remain on site to decommission the plant, but everyone involved in production will finish up on Thursday, 29 March at midday.

It’s been a rough few months for people still working, with most doing a final tidy up this week in the near-empty factory.

“It’s been a bit of struggle heading towards the end,” says Cadbury worker and union on-site Vice President, Teresa Gooch.

After weeks watching the plant being dismantled around them, Teresa says most people can’t wait to finish up.

“It’s been really tough, tougher than I thought it would be,” she says.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Food, Phil Knight says it’s the end of an era for Cadbury, which began in Dunedin in 1930, after joining forces with Richard Hudson’s confectionary and biscuit business.

“It’s been a great site to represent,” says Phil.

“It’s been a pleasure working with such a loyal, hard-working and dedicated group of people. That professionalism won’t stop when they leave here. They’ll take that with them to their next job,” he says.

Phil says the closure will have significant flow-on effects for associated firms, such as packaging company Amcor whose staff have sent a note of support to workers.

“New Zealanders care about what’s happened to this plant,” says Phil. “They don’t like the closure and I would ask them to think about that when they’re grocery shopping.

“New Zealand in general produces quality food. We’d like to see people choosing New Zealand-made wherever they can, to help protect jobs.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator, Food ph. 027 591 0053

We can put media in touch with Cadbury workers who are prepared to comment.

For more information, contact:

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

 

Major milestone as production ends at Cadbury

In a poignant milestone, the last production run –  of Pineapple Lumps – rolls off the assembly line at Cadbury in Dunedin today.

The plant closes for good on 29 March, but workers are looking to the future, says Phil Knight, E tū Industry Coordinator, Food, who visited the Dunedin factory on Wednesday.

“We very much wanted to thank people for being loyal, committed members for so many years, and to wish them well for the future,” says Phil.

“It’s been tough on people coming to work and their workmates of many years aren’t there,” he says. “The oldest serving member has been there for 38 years.”

But Phil says the feeling is generally positive.

“People are looking forward to the next phase in their lives, albeit with some anxiety and sadness.”

“The vast majority have plans in place – either they have a job lined up, or they’re retiring, and some are just taking a bit of time to evaluate what they do next.”

He says local employers have recognised the quality and skills of the workers as well as their work ethic, “so they’re valued and they’re valuable.”

He says members have found jobs across New Zealand, many in the local region, including in the retail, wholesale, aviation, manufacturing, transport and power industries.

However, he says as they job-hunt, members have noticed the stark difference in pay and conditions, and health and safety standards compared to a union site like Cadbury.

“That’s going to be an eye-opener for many. Unionised workplaces offer better terms and conditions and also, a safer working environment,” says Phil.

Meanwhile he says the normal hustle and bustle of the factory floor has been replaced by a disquieting silence.

“When you stand at one end of one of the factory floors and you look to the far end where it’s all been cleared out, it’s clean as a whistle but also a bit spooky too. Because you know that up until a few months ago, it would have been 30 or 40 people working there, it was a hive of activity. So, to see it so quiet – it’s ghostly, eerie.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator, Food ph. 027 591 0053

We can put media in touch with Cadbury workers who are prepared to comment.

For more information, contact:

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

Cleaners at Auckland meat works muzzled

Cleaning contractor, ISS has gagged the cleaners at Auckland Meat Processors, to stop them speaking out against cuts to a third of the plant’s cleaning staff.

AMP is owned by Wilson Hellaby which the cleaners have been told is behind the cuts.

Five of the 15-strong cleaning team received letters last week telling them they are now redundant and offering them redeployment options.

The cleaners believe the cuts will compromise hygiene standards at the plant and they want to go public.

However, they have been told not to speak to media, and they fear for their jobs.

Senior Organiser, Len Richards says most of Auckland’s beef supply is processed at the plant and Countdown is its major customer.

“This is a major meat supplier and it’s disgraceful that the cleaners have been muzzled to stop them airing legitimate worries about the safety of these cuts,” says Len.

He says the redundant workers have been offered casual work at the plant which suggests these are not genuine redundancies.

“It seems their real intention is to axe the secure, full-time jobs these workers had and to casualise them, so it can save money on decent conditions like sick leave and holiday pay.

“For this wealthy company to target its lowest paid, most vulnerable workers this way is miserable.”

Other jobs offered to the redundant cleaners are for only up to 25 hours a week, which the cleaners can’t live on.

“This whole episode is disgraceful,” says Len.

“We would urge Wilson Hellaby to advise ISS that the cuts are no longer required and to reinstate these workers.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Len Richards E tū Senior organiser, ph. 027 204 6338

We can put media in touch with cleaners who are prepared to speak anonymously.

New Zealander of the Year urges women to “reach high”

New Zealander of the Year, and E tū’s equal pay hero, Kristine Bartlett has marked International Women’s Day with a message to women fighting for equal pay.

“Stand up for what you believe is right and fair and reach high,” says Kristine.

Kristine, who led the campaign for pay equity for care and support workers, says the historic settlement won last year has lifted pay for these predominantly female workers and set a precedent for other women.

That includes early childhood workers who will today be among those presenting the Council of Trade Union’s Treat Her Right equal pay petition to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Dr Jackie Blue.

“I had a chat with them about a year ago and they acknowledged I’d given them inspiration to fight, and I said, that’s what you’ve got to do if you want something and you deserve it.

“Never give up.  Keep going the way I did the last five years, along with my union.”

Kristine is delighted that this year, International Women’s Day coincides with the global campaign by women against sexual harassment. She says in many ways 2018 is the year of women.

“I’m just so pleased about that – I can say “#MeToo” because I’ve been down that road as well,” she says.

“It’s just so important that we’re starting to do something positive and encouraging people not to be afraid but to speak the truth and let people know what’s going on and what we’ve been through.

“We need a bit of respect in our lives and we deserve it. #MeToo is great – all over the world women are getting the courage to speak up.”

Closure of iconic Christchurch plant

E tū is extremely concerned to see another local manufacturer shutting up shop and heading overseas.

Schneider Electric confirmed today it is closing its Christchurch plant and shifting operations to Australia and Vietnam with the loss of about 50 jobs.

The plant, which produces light switches and power plugs, was formerly part of iconic Christchurch company PDL, with a decades-long history in the city.

“These are quality fittings and they’ve been very popular for many years. They’re in most New Zealand homes and would be instantly recognisable to most Kiwis,” says E tū Industry Coordinator, Phil Knight.

Phil says a number of workers have been with the firm since its days as PDL, with one long serving staffer clocking up 42 years on the job.

“This is a workforce that’s very much a big family. They’re proud of their product and also very sad to bid farewell to their workmates and friends,” says Phil.

The announcement comes just weeks after ABCorp announced it was closing its Christchurch plastic card factory and also relocating abroad.

“We’ve seen a string of these closures, and every time it’s a blow for our members and the economy,” says Phil.

“The official line is there’s a buoyant job market out there, but manufacturing jobs like these have provided secure, well-paid, permanent, full-time jobs. These are now a relative rarity.

“However, these workers do have skills and good work records that would be of interest to any employer in any number of industries,” he says.

Phil says the union will be promoting their interests once a closure date is confirmed.

Schneider’s other New Zealand operations are not affected by the closure.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0053

 

Workers come forward to Chorus inquiry

E tū says more workers are coming forward to report labour abuses to the Labour Inspectorate lead investigation into Chorus contractors and subcontractors working on the ultrafast broadband network.

The investigation began just before Christmas, following reports of exploitative practices by Chorus subcontractors in Nelson where people worked for free, as so-called volunteers.

E tū’s Industry Coordinator Communications, Joe Gallagher says the union is working closely with the Labour Inspectorate, and a number of workers have been interviewed.

“We’ve been very encouraged by the number of people coming forward. We are working with them, ensuring they have contact with the Inspectorate to get this information into the investigation,” says Joe.

He cites reports from workers, including many migrants, which reveal a litany of illegal work practices.

They include illegal pay deductions, underpayment of wages or no payment for so-called ‘volunteers’, as well as health and safety breaches, no annual leave and sick leave, and inadequate equipment.

For many, the work is a way to meet immigration requirements for work permits and residency, but Joe says that’s left people vulnerable to exploitation.

“We saw the early cases come through in Nelson, but in Auckland alone there are 900 subcontractors to Chorus contractors, Visionstream and UCG. The potential scale of the problem is huge,” he says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator, Communications ph. 027 591 0015

 

Malaysian labour scam industry wake-up call

E tū is urging the construction industry to get its house in order after revelations of a scam involving undocumented Malaysian construction workers.

Union Industry Coordinator, Ron Angel says the scam is symptomatic of how easy it is to lose control these days of just who is working on building sites.

“People are calling this third-tier subcontracting but actually, these are fourth-tier subcontractors and the situation is out of control.

“Construction firms have come to rely on them due to labour shortages, but they are a risk. Hundreds of these workers were here undocumented, with no monitoring of their pay and conditions, and probably no labour protection of any sort,” says Ron.

“This rort is a wake-up call for contractors and project managers to monitor their sites and their workforce properly. This industry needs to get its house in order.”

Ron says the situation strengthens the case for directly employing workers as well as providing standardised wages and training.

“If it applies to everyone, then there’s a level playing fields,” he says.

Ron says there are also obvious concerns about the exploitation by unscrupulous agents of visitor visa arrangements with Malaysia.

“You would have to worry that so many people could evade basic security checks by slipping into the country in this way, including using false names.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Ron Angel E tū Industry Coordinator Engineering and Infrastructure ph. 027 591 0055