Author: E tū

UCG “volunteer” model for Chorus fibre optics build “completely unacceptable”

E tū says the so-called “volunteer” scheme run by Chorus fibre optics contractor, Universal Communications Group is a clear case of migrant exploitation.

E tū’s Communications Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says the union recently learned of the scheme through a UCG document advising its subcontractors of the rules around recruiting these “volunteers”.

“With what’s happened in Nelson, it’s obvious now that this was about exploiting migrants who were contracted to work for free. That’s disgraceful and unacceptable,” says Joe.

Joe says Chorus had no choice but to instruct UCG to scrap the scheme once someone blew the whistle.

However, he says the scheme is the inevitable outcome of Chorus’s determination to drive down the cost of its fibre optic installation programme.

“Chorus has driven the cost so low that experienced contractors like Downer have quit.  Skilled workers have been forced out and they’ve been replaced by inexperienced people, who will work for less or in this case, nothing at all.”

Joe is urging the Government to investigate the true state of the workforce rolling out this  critical infrastructure.

“This is government money so there should be transparency. We shouldn’t be seeing this type of exploitation of workers in New Zealand,” he says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

TVNZ members disappointed with CEO salary increase

TVNZ members of the unions, E tū and the PSA today expressed disappointment that Chief Executive, Kevin Kenrick had accepted salary and bonuses which increased his pay by $500,000 whilst overseeing falling revenues at the state-owned broadcaster.

TVNZ’s net profit for the year declined 89 percent – from $12.7m in 2016 to just $1.4m.

The news of Mr Kenrick’s 16 percent pay rise came as members were presented with a 1 percent increase for the same financial year.

It also comes on the back of an incoming Labour-led government promising to address growing inequality in New Zealand.

This year, staff have been through restructuring which resulted in the loss of more newsroom jobs and other positions across the wider business, in an effort to cut costs to off-set revenue declines.

Union representatives said employees had risen to the challenge of continuing to deliver quality content with fewer resources.

But they considered the Chief Executive’s remuneration deeply cynical in light of a volatile media environment and where TVNZ staff have been offered a pay rise that doesn’t even keep pace with the cost of living.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

 

 

E tū acknowledges Vector as power industry Living Wage leader

E tū would like to congratulate Vector on joining the Living Wage Employer Accreditation programme and would encourage the firms in Vector’s supply chain to do likewise.

E tū Industry Coordinator Communications, Joe Gallagher says Vector’s decision is likely to lift the profile of the Living Wage within the power sector as well as influence other firms to also make the same commitment.

“We have members at Vector and this is recognition of how important the Living Wage is for working people.

“Vector has also committed to paying its contract cleaning staff the Living Wage when that contract comes up for renewal next year, and that’s to be applauded,” says Joe.

He says he also wants to see companies in Vector’s supply chain, which provide lines maintenance and other services, also embrace the Living Wage.

He says Vector is already speaking with its supply companies about this.

“We want to acknowledge Vector which has said they are already in conversation about this, and to encourage these suppliers to make the change.

“It’s important that large businesses recognise they can change the lives of their workers, including contract cleaners and Vector has proved this.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

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

E tū welcomes demise of National’s pay equity bill

E tū has welcomed the Government’s decision to scrap the former National Government’s pay equity bill.

E tū took the pay equity case, Bartlett v Terranova which ultimately led to the equal pay settlement for 55,000 care and support workers.

The Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill passed its first reading in August by just one vote and was opposed by most political parties.

E tū’s Equal Pay Coordinator, Yvette Taylor says women rallied in their thousands against the bill which would have increased the obstacles faced by women seeking equal pay.

“Had this bill proceeded, these women would have been forced into a long process of identifying comparators and proving merit,” says Yvette.

“We were given a strong commitment on the campaign trail that the bill would be scrapped and we’re delighted that has been honoured.”

Yvette says any new legislation needs to respect the Court of Appeal judgement in the case of Bartlett v Terranova as well as the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on pay equity.

Care worker, Kristine Bartlett who took the case says the equal pay settlement wouldn’t have happened if the bill had survived in its current form.

“It’s great news,” says Kristine.

“That bill was going to affect so many other low-paid women in low-paid industries which was totally unfair. We fought hard for five years to get what we deserve and then we get a bill that would make it so much harder for everyone else.

“I’m so glad it’s gone and we look forward to a replacement that makes it easier for women to gain pay equity,” she says.

E tū’s submission on the bill supports retaining the Equal Pay Act 1972 with changes to accommodate the Court of Appeal judgement as well as the Joint Working Group recommendations.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Yvette Taylor E tū Equal Pay Coordinator ph. 027 431 8486

E tū challenges Aerocare over standards after Jetstar clip-board incident

E tū Aviation is challenging the aviation ground crew company, Aerocare to reveal its training regime and working conditions after a clip-board was sucked into the engine of a Jetstar plane serviced by the company.

The clip-board had been left on the cowling of the plane in Auckland.  The plane headed to Sydney but returned to Auckland after debris was seen coming from one of its engines.

The Head of E tū Aviation, Kelvin Ellis says the union is “shocked and concerned to hear about this incident which is unacceptable and should never have happened.

“It doesn’t happen with an airline with proper systems,” says Kelvin who says Aerocare needs to justify its training standards and working conditions.

“We wonder what training Aerocare is providing for its workers, because a clip-board should never have been left near a jet engine. It’s just an unfathomable incident.”

Kelvin says there is also concern about labour practices like split-shifts “which end up being really long shifts because they might work 2-hours at the start of the day and 2 hours at the end of the day. They’re poorly paid and fatigue may be an issue.”

Kelvin says the union would welcome a conversation with Aerocare about improving its training and setting working conditions which are fair and safe for the workers and the travelling public.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Kelvin Ellis E tū Head of Aviation ph. 027 598 5735

E tū fights employer moves to undermine minimum wage rise

E tū is very disappointed to learn that some employers are trying to avoid the upcoming minimum wage increase by building workers’ allowances into their basic hourly pay.

The allowances are typically paid for such things as service, travel time and in recognition of shift work.

E tū’s Industry Coordinator Food Sector, Phil Knight says the union believes it may be dealing with a collective employer strategy to undermine a higher minimum wage.

“For employers to move allowances into the basic rate would be to neutralise any increase provided for in the hourly rate effective from 1 April 2018,” says Phil.

“This would undermine workers’ right to fair pay and a reasonable standard of living, especially those on the lowest possible pay rate who are struggling to pay their way now and can’t live on less.”

Phil says E tū is currently bargaining with two employers about this issue, and it is urging workers who are not currently in a union to join so they are protected.

“Union members know not to sign these contracts and they have the union officials available to advise and represent them.

“However, non-union workers won’t be so sure and may think they have no choice but to agree.  They need to know that is not the case, and if they do sign, they are giving away benefits and a minimum wage increase they desperately need.

“Meanwhile, we would say to employers: don’t do this.  It is unreasonable and unfair, and you are only going to make life more difficult for the most disadvantaged workers who have enough problems already.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

 

 

Mental health workers hopeful new Government signals equal pay deal

Mental health support workers are hopeful the Labour-led Government will finally include them in the equal pay settlement.

The settlement only applies to aged care, disability, and home support workers after negotiators for the previous government refused to include support workers in mental health.

E tū’s Equal Pay Coordinator, Yvette Taylor says the situation is very unfair, but hopes are high they will finally be included.

“Jacinda made a commitment at an equal pay rally during the election campaign to equal pay for these workers and we’re looking forward to that coming to fruition really soon,” says Yvette.

Yvette says talks are already underway with health officials and looking “very positive”.

“We don’t believe the new coalition Government will throw up any barriers to this,” she says.

E tū member and mental health support worker, Sandra Rawenata says she and her colleagues are “rapt” about the new Government which has stoked hopes of a settlement.

“As soon as the Government was announced my friends and I were all over Facebook. It means a pay rise, it means we can feed our families, help our families. It means a lot of happy people,” says Sandra.

“We’re feeling hopeful out here. We’re expecting the Government to stand by what they told us at the equal pay rally and that we will be fairly paid just like our comrades in disability and aged care.”

Sandra says a settlement is crucial to stemming the loss of mental health support workers to other, better-paid care and support work.

ENDS.

For more information, contact:

Yvette Taylor E tū Equal Pay Coordinator ph.027 431 8486

Sandra Rawenata E tū delegate ph. 027 351 4285

 

 

E tū Aviation welcomes new Government’s rejection of low wage economy

E tū Aviation has welcomed the new Prime Minister’s call for productive relationships between business and workers, and an end to low pay and its negative economic effects.

In her speech to the Council of Trade Unions yesterday, Jacinda Ardern praised the High-Performance Engagement agreement which E tū and other unions have with Air New Zealand.

“That agreement means business and unions sit down together and help each other with their problems and the results speak for themselves,” says E tū’s Head of Aviation, Kelvin Ellis.

“Working together has saved jobs, ensured good pay and conditions and helped transform Air New Zealand into one of the world’s most successful and profitable airlines.

“The new Government has clearly drawn the lesson that working together benefits all parties, and we’re delighted with its support for this model.”

Kelvin has also welcomed Ms Ardern’s rejection of the low-wage approach of many employers which actually erodes productivity.

“Ms Ardern has correctly made the link between an engaged, well-paid workforce and Air New Zealand’s strong financial position.

“We fully support her message on this: that low wages aren’t simply a problem for low-wage workers, they are a problem for businesses and the economy as a whole.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Kelvin Ellis Head of E tū Aviation ph. 027 598 5735

 

 

 

E tū welcomes lift in minimum wage but goal is Living Wage

The union E tū has welcomed today’s announcement of a lift in the minimum wage but says its goal remains the Living Wage for all workers.

The increase from $15.75 an hour to $16.50 will mean more than $20.00 extra a week for minimum wage workers doing a 40-hour week.

The minimum wage will gradually increase to $20.00 by April 2021.

E tū’s National Secretary, Bill Newson says the extra money will be very welcome for these workers.

“It might not sound a lot for the privileged elite who have got a lot from the Government over the past few years. But it means a lot to ordinary working people trying to support families on low pay,” says Bill.

“Let’s remember we’re talking about a minimum and there’s a lot of evidence that shows a Living Wage today needs to be $20.20 so there is still a way to go,” he says.

Bill says the increases announced today surpass the movement in the minimum wage achieved under the previous National Government.

“It took National five years to lift the minimum wage by $3.00 an hour and it will take this Government 3 years to lift it another $4.00 – we can live with that.”

Bill says businesses might not be happy but in fact they will benefit as workers spend the extra money on local goods and services.

“Good business is about employing good people. Good business is about retaining good people. And good business is about paying people a decent wage, so this new minimum wage is good for business and workers.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Bill Newson E tū National Secretary ph. 027 538 4246