Author: E tū

Equal pay for mental health support workers

Mental health and addiction support workers have been rewarded for their patience – with their long fight for equal pay finally over.

The Government has confirmed the care and support settlement will be extended to these workers.

An estimated 5000 workers will get a pay rise, backdated to 1 July 2017, the date of the original $2 billion settlement.

“Our members in mental health and addiction support were unfairly left out of the original settlement,” PSA Assistant National Secretary Kerry Davies says.

“The mental health and addiction support sector urgently needs more staff, and this should help to recruit and retain skilled and dedicated workers.

“The Labour-led Government has made good on its commitment to work with unions and employers to deliver where the National Government failed.

“Our members stood together and now they’re getting what they deserve.”

PSA Mental Health Committee co-convenor Pollyanna Alo says mental health and addiction support workers like her will feel valued for the work they do.

“This means everything to me,” she says.

“Now support workers throughout New Zealand are able to feed their families, put petrol in the car and just enjoy a little bit of luxury without a stranglehold on their finances.”

E tū Equal Pay Coordinator, Yvette Taylor says the deal is a promise kept by the new Government.

“We know from speaking to our members in this sector that many earn too little to live decently. This will be a relief, and a recognition of the vital work they do in our communities.

“The Government has made mental health a priority and valuing these workers is crucial to the success of these services.”

Ratification meetings for all mental health and addictions support workers will now be held around New Zealand so workers can vote on the settlement.

“We would urge everyone to attend to hear about and vote on this historic offer,” Ms Taylor and Ms Davies say.

For further information, contact:

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

 

Fair Pay Agreements: work begins

E tū welcomes the setting up of the working group on Fair Pay Agreements.

E tū’s National Director of Campaigns, Annie Newman says today’s announcement is the fulfilment of a key election promise to workers, who need greater support for their pay and conditions.

FPAs would set basic standards for pay and conditions across an entire industry, through collective bargaining by businesses and unions.

“The stories in the media every day revealing workers being ripped off show that our current employment relations system is not working,” says Annie.

“Workers in small workplaces, especially in the service sector, have very little bargaining power. Even in industries where there are labour shortages, employers are too scared to lift their pay in case another employer undermines them,” she says.

“Fair Pay Agreements will set minimum standards for wages and conditions and will give these workers a real say in their minimum employment conditions.”

E tū Industry Co-ordinator Jill Ovens says a particular concern is the plight of vulnerable workers such as security guards.

“We have collective agreements with the bigger security companies that provide for hours of work, training, health and safety, protections of workers’ rights if they get into trouble, and so on.

“But these companies tell us they are constantly being undercut by cowboys in the industry who have a churn of guards on individual agreements.”

Jill says E tū is working with the Security Association to improve the professionalism of workers in the industry, but that means bringing the terms and conditions of these ‘bottom feeders’ into line.

She says government entities are prominent among those rewarding tenders which cut costs, including workers’ wages and hours to the bone, in “a race to the bottom”.

Annie Newman said employers’ doom and gloom rhetoric about FPAs should be discounted as they had wrongly told people they would pave the way for industrial unrest.

“There is no right to strike for an FPA and all Agreements will be negotiated collectively,” she says.

E tū has also welcomed the inclusion on the FPA team of E tū Assistant Secretary, John Ryall.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Annie Newman E tū Director of Campaigns ph. 027 204 6340

Jill Ovens Industry Co-ordinator ph. 027 446 4966

 

 

Bitter taste of Cadbury PR push

A promotional road show by Cadbury owner, Mondelez, will likely serve as a bitter reminder for many New Zealanders of what happened to Cadbury Dunedin, says E tū.

Mondelez launches a road trip tomorrow, in a bid to persuade Kiwis to create “real moments of connection” and to enjoy chocolate with the people they love.

But E tū Industry Coordinator, Phil Knight says a lot of people aren’t feeling the love for Mondelez after it managed to corrupt its own brand.

“The road trip is an admission by Mondelez that their closure of Cadbury has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Kiwis, and that’s sure to have hit its bottom line,” says Phil.

“New Zealanders were very angry about Mondelez closing the Dunedin factory and Cadbury World with the loss of hundreds of jobs,” he says.

“Kiwis connected with Cadbury and enjoyed the chocolate for 150 years. But that ended for many people when Mondelez closed a profitable business and moved production off shore.

“We heard a strong message that people were loyal to Cadbury because the chocolate was made here.

“That is no longer the case and we expect New Zealanders are voting with their wallets and sourcing their sweet treats from companies which support the local economy,” Phil says.

“Whether or not the chocolate remains the same is up to the customer to decide.  But you can’t change the fact that up to 500 people were laid off by Mondelez, which did very well out of this country.

“Indeed, corporate greed seems harder to satisfy than the most ardent chocoholic’s taste for confectionary. Cadbury may make a sweet product, but its actions have left a very bitter after-taste.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Co-ordinator, Food ph. 027 591 0053

 

E tū supports a Just Transition

25 May 2018

Today the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern met with our members in the oil and gas industry in Taranaki, to explain the Government’s commitment to a carbon-free future by 2050, and to answer questions from those at the meeting. Below is the media statement explaining our support for the Government’s commitment to a Just Transition so workers are prepared for this new future.

MEDIA STATEMENT

This should be credited to Paul Tolich, Senior Industrial Officer, E tū.

“E tū supports the Government’s commitment to a Just Transition as it moves the country to a non-carbon future.

“The union also welcomes the assurance by the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern that no current jobs will be affected by the announcement last month that there will be no permits issued this year for off-shore oil and gas exploration.

“We also support and welcome the commitment to investment and development in diverse new industries in the Taranaki region, where so many of our members are based.

“We accept the reality of climate change and believe it’s important that we start preparing now for the transition to a non-carbon economy over the next 30 years. This is the first step in a plan for the future.

“A start has to be made now so this is a gradual change and people and communities can make the adjustment. This cannot be left to chance. We saw what happened when the economy restructured during the 1980s where there was no plan for new jobs for the people affected by those changes. That cannot happen this time. This time we have a plan with our commitment to a Just Transition.

“If there is to be a carbon-free future, then there has to be a government-supported plan that will quickly produce new, clean technologies in New Zealand. These will provide the new jobs in the energy industry of the future.

“Climate change and the drive to a non-carbon future are shaping our response – hence our support for the Just Transition process. But we must continue to campaign to turn a Just Transition plan into tangible results – specifically the production of goods and services by workers in new, quality jobs which are both skilled and well paid.

“This is our challenge. We are prepared to take this up on behalf of our members and their families.”

For further information, contact;

Paul Tolich ph. 027 593 5595

 

 

 

 

E tū: labour reforms long over-due

E tū says proposed changes to the Employment Relations Act are long over-due and essential to addressing widespread labour abuses in New Zealand.

However, it opposes the amendment which would retain 90-day trial periods in workplaces with fewer than 20 workers.

In its submission on the Bill, the union says the changes recognise the role of unions in improving workers’ lives and the need to level the playing field.

“The previous National Government changed the law to weaken protections for our members, particularly the most vulnerable, such as cleaners and security guards,” says John Ryall, E tū Assistant National Secretary.

“The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of employers, and the changes would go a long way towards legitimising the vital role of unions in improving pay and conditions, and rebuilding respect between workers and their employers,” he says.

In particular, John says the union supports an amendment to Part 6A of the Act, to restore protections for vulnerable workers in firms of less than 20 people.

“The exemption to this protection has resulted in the decimation of cleaning jobs and abuses of cleaners on a huge scale. Bullying, cuts to hours and jobs and short-pays are endemic in this industry,” says John.

E tū also strongly opposes the Bill’s preservation of 90-day trial periods for employers with fewer than 20 workers.

John says 90-day trials should be scrapped altogether.

“This unfair law has been used on tens of thousands of people, and is devastating for many,” he says.

He cites the case of a member who recently won a settlement after being sacked on the last day of her 90-day trial at a top plastics firm, after she notified the company she couldn’t work because she had a sick child.

“This was a disgraceful example of how unfairly this law has been used,” John says.

ENDS

For further information, contact;

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

John will be presenting E tū’s submission to the Education and Workforce Select Committee on Wednesday, 23 May at 10.45am, together with E tū members.

 

Budget invests in key priorities

E tū has welcomed the budget as a first step in dealing with some important priorities for working people, with much needed investment in the health, education and welfare of all New Zealanders.

As well as initiatives which will reduce medical costs for many E tū members, the Budget includes a massive investment of $42 billion dollars over four years in capital spending.

This includes billions of dollars in new capital for hospitals, schools and homes, as well as new infrastructure including rail and roading.

“As well as the financial fillip for the economy which this will provide, it also means thousands of new jobs in industries such as construction,” says Bill Newson, E tū National Secretary.

“It’s good to see the spending committed to addressing the country’s social and infrastructure deficit.

“Yes, the economy is doing well, but the benefits have not been shared fairly. This budget puts money where it’s needed, in health, education and housing which will also help our many members on low incomes,” says Bill.

Bill has also applauded the commitment to increasing the number of labour inspectors.

“This will help enhance the inspectorate’s ability to monitor and investigate labour abuses which are rife across many of the industries we represent,” he says.

Bill has also urged a collaborative approach to the Government’s new initiatives, saying businesses, unions and government agencies need to work together.

“The challenge is to bring together the many parties with a stake in our economy, to plan how to leverage the many opportunities included in this budget. That includes workforce planning, so we have the workers we need to meet the targets set by the Government, and a plan for the future of work.

“If we can do that, everyone will benefit.”

ENDS.

For more information, contact:

Bill Newson E tū National Secretary ph. 027 538 4246 

Sad end of an era as Cadbury World closes

E tū says the announcement that Cadbury World is closing is a sudden and unexpected end to Cadbury’s presence in Dunedin.

E tū understands Mondelez made the decision to close the popular tourist attraction because the land was needed for Dunedin’s new hospital.

Workers learned of the decision earlier this month, with Mondelez closing Cadbury World this week while it consulted workers over whether to keep trading, or to shut immediately.

“The workers were told they’d be paid whether the place reopened or not, and so they voted unanimously for closure, so they can get on with their lives and find new jobs,” says Phil Knight, E tū’s Industry Coordinator, Food.

“It was a no brainer in the end,” he says.

“They all agreed – let’s just pull the pin. So, it won’t be re-opening and the workers have all received notice this week that their jobs are gone.”

The workers have received six weeks’ notice in addition to any redundancy compensation that might be owed.

“It’s been a quick and unexpected end and a sad end,” says Phil.

“Everyone was led to believe the business would be maintained but it turned out that wasn’t the case so it’s a disappointment.

“People will get what they’re entitled to including redundancy and notice, but it’s not a job,” he says.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

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

Hearing exposes health risks for vulnerable workers

The health risks of insecure work have been exposed during Select Committee submissions today on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill.

The Chairperson of the Hutt Union and Community Health Service, Muriel Tunoho told the Education and Workplace Select Committee that restoring meal breaks and protections for vulnerable workers is crucial to their health and wellbeing.

“At our service, we regularly see patients whose health has suffered because they are vulnerable workers, in industries where work is precarious,” says Ms Tunoho.

Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act protects the jobs of vulnerable workers, such as cleaners and catering assistants, where retendering results in a change of contractor.

However, five years ago, an exemption was made for firms with fewer than 20 workers, resulting in many cleaners losing their jobs, while others have seen cuts to working hours, pay and conditions.

“One of our patients recently lost most of his cleaning job when some of the facilities he cleaned were tendered and awarded to a small contractor,” says Ms Tunoho.

 

“His weekly pay dropped from $640.00 a week to $252.00 a week. He was struggling on his old income. His new income was impossible,” she said.

 

Ms Tunoho says the Service welcomes the fact the bill puts all contractors on the same footing but said it would like security guards added to the list of vulnerable workers.

E tū will be making more submissions on Part 6A, given the havoc wrought by the exemption.

The union also supports the Tramways Union’s call this morning for bus drivers to be covered by Part 6A, following a tender process set to cost hundreds of bus drivers their jobs.

One driver told the Select Committee the stress of possibly losing her job, or having her hours cut was causing her headaches, insomnia and depression.

“The drivers are subject to the same retendering and contracting model which has resulted in such precarious conditions for many of our own members,” says Jill Ovens, E tū Industry Coordinator.

“Often it is local and central government entities such as schools, police and councils which are the worst offenders,” says Jill.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Jill Ovens E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 446 4966

Industrial action to hit Blue Star print firms

Workers at Blue Star Group’s four print shops are taking industrial action, with an overtime ban in place from just after midnight tonight.

The overtime ban will affect McCollams Print and Nicholson Print in Auckland as well as Format Print and Print Link in Wellington, which prints the Budget.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says the industrial action is a response to Blue Star’s unreasonable demands during bargaining to renew the collective agreement, which expired last year.

“The company wants to claw back terms and conditions related to shift arrangements,” says Joe.

“At the moment, they can change shifts if workers agree. But Blue Star wants to be able to do this as of right. They’ve told us if workers don’t agree to this they can apply for voluntary redundancy. In other words, take it or leave it, which is unacceptable,”.

“This would leave these workers with no control over their lives, their time with their kids and families and what they do on the weekend.”

Joe says members want to preserve their right to consultation “because they’ve built their lives around their working arrangements.”

Member are also unhappy over Blue Star’s demand that workers disclose if they have a secondary job.

“I asked what business that is of theirs and they cited health and safety. But what they really want is the right to reach into other people’s lives.

“Instead of addressing issues of fair pay, they’re trying to dictate what workers do outside their working hours at Blue Star.”

Joe says the fact is many workers must work two jobs because of the high cost of living, especially in cities like Auckland and Wellington.

“We’re seeing growing evidence of the haves and have-nots. People are trying to survive and it’s getting tougher and tougher. And companies are responding by trying to claw back more and more from their workers,” he says.

Joe says members are also angry over Blue Star’s refusal to agree to back-pay any pay rise to the expiry date of their collective agreement.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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