Author: E tū

E tū welcomes Pike River re-entry

E tū has welcomed the decision to proceed with the re-entry of the Pike River mine drift in a bid to uncover the cause of death of the 29 men who died there in November 2010.

The Minister in charge of the re-entry effort, Andrew Little made the announcement this morning, together with some of the Pike River families, E tū officials, police, and members of the Pike River Recovery Agency.

“This is a major victory for the families and their supporters who fought hard for this outcome, which we hope will further illuminate the cause of this tragedy which cost the lives of 29 workers,” says Paul Tolich, E tū Senior Industrial Officer.

“The more we know, the more we can plan to protect lives in high-risk industries,” he says.

“For the families, it holds the hope of closure and it is a milestone in the campaign for justice.

“It is also important for health and safety and the prevention of deaths on the job. All workers have the right to return home to their families at the end of the working day.

“The union also congratulates Andrew Little, the Minister responsible for the Pike River entry, who has shown fine leadership in carrying this task through to fruition.

“Although she is no longer with us, Helen Kelly has also been vindicated in her support for the families and the fight to re-enter the mine.

“This also shows what can be achieved by those who battle for a just outcome. The families have shown that if you campaign long enough and your cause is just, you can achieve success despite the naysayers who told the families they were wasting their time.

“When you have a government determined to do the right thing, you can achieve an outcome that serves justice and vindicates the families’ long years of struggle.

“This is yet again another example where the Labour/NZ First government has fulfilled the promises made on the campaign trail.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

 

Big fine after worker caught in press

31 October 2018

MEDIA RELEASE

Big fine after worker caught in press

E tū has welcomed the big fine handed down to Carter Holt Harvey LVL plant at Ruakaka in Northland after a member was seriously injured in October 2016.

Steven Vincent had his chest and shoulder crushed, suffering multiple fractures, lacerations and lung injuries after his body became trapped in a conveyor belt at the plant.

A WorkSafe investigation found the LVL press machine wasn’t guarded, in breach of the company’s health and safety procedures.

In the District Court in Whangarei today, CHH LVL Ruakaka was ordered to pay Mr Vincent $55,000 in reparations, and fined $371,000 plus costs.

E tū organiser, Annie Tothill says the judge said he had taken into account the fact that there were more than 26 previous cases involving Carter Holt Harvey, some involving a lack of guarding, which in this case added another $60,000 to the fine.

“This was essential guarding,” says Annie.

“Steve was putting his body at risk.  His whole body went into the press. Not only was there inadequate guarding: there was no guarding at all.”

Annie says the fine sends a message that workplaces must be safe and that a failure to meet basic safety requirements is unacceptable.

“Steve has suffered months of agony and recovery from his injuries – he’s only recently had more surgery for the lung damage caused by this terrible accident and may require more,” says Annie.

“He is lucky to be alive.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Annie Tothill E tū organiser ph. 027 573 4934

 

Workers to picket Sistema

From 5am to 9am tomorrow, Sistema E tū members and supporters will picket outside the plant to highlight problems caused by Sistema’s low pay and poor working conditions.

There will also be a sausage sizzle, with other workers and members of community groups also attending to show their support.

Most workers at Sistema are on the minimum wage, working 60 hours a week.

“Production has recently ramped up, but a revolving door of staff shows workers are increasingly unwilling to put up with the long hours and poor pay,” says Mat Danaher, E tū Campaign Lead Organiser.

“New staff are starting every day and then leaving as soon as they can,” says Sistema worker and E tū delegate, Sesilia Williams.

“Sometimes they just drive off at the first break, not even telling anyone they’re going,” she says.

“They get here and soon realise they’re not able to handle the work or hours, and the pay doesn’t make it worth their while. They would rather take their chance that there is another job out there.

“Meanwhile, the high turnover is putting greater pressure on the workers who stay to pick up the slack and fill those Christmas orders,” says Sesilia.

Mat says Sistema refuses to learn the lesson that it has much to gain from providing decent, well-paid job with reasonable hours.

“Other New Zealand companies have realised that taking care of their staff makes their businesses more productive, as well as being of benefit to their workers. Sistema needs to take that on board.

“Workers there have had enough, and this picket and sausage sizzle is a way for them to show their frustration, blow off a little steam, and enjoy the company of other people who will be joining them to show their support,” says Mat.

ENDS

For more information or to speak with workers, contact:

Mat Danaher E tū Campaign Lead Organiser ph. 021 336 519

Open letter presented to Sistema CEO

At midday today, Sistema workers, together with community leaders and local and national politicians will present Sistema CEO Drew Muirhead with thousands of open letters, urging the company to improve the pay and conditions of its workers.

E tū says it’s a strong message from the public to Sistema, which the union understands is struggling to find staff after revelations of the low pay and long hours.

At Sistema, most members earn the minimum wage and are required to work a 60-hour week.

E tū organiser, Fala Haulangi says a widely circulated photo of the burnt and blistered hands of a Sistema worker has also exposed the poor working conditions.

“People who work at Sistema often leave work exhausted and in tears,” says Fala.

“However, our members are buoyed by the support they’ve had from the many thousands of people who have signed these letters.”

Fala says the union believes the sweatshop conditions may now be affecting production and that it has been told Sistema is 50 workers short of what’s needed.

“We’ve told Sistema something has to be done, and it looks like workers are voting with their feet,” she says.

“This is their busy season, but we’ve heard machines are sitting idle which need to be operating to fill orders. Drew Muirhead needs to know there is a cost to the low pay and long hours.”

Delegates at the plant agree.

“If they want to hire more people, they’re going to have to improve wages and conditions,” says E tū delegate and Sistema worker, Maria Latu.

“Because now, people hate coming to work. They say it is like working in a jail. The CEO needs to think about that and do something, or he’ll turn around and there won’t be anyone there.”

ENDS

What: presentation of open letters, calling on Sistema to improve wages and conditions

When: midday, Friday 19:  everyone meets at 11.45am in the Sistema carpark.

Who: Sistema union members and delegates; MP Marama Davidson; Auckland councillor, Josephine Bartley; community leaders including churches and migrant union, Migrante.

Where: Sistema, 221 Ihumatao Road, Mangere, Auckland

For further information, contact:

Mat Danaher Campaign Lead organiser E tū ph. 021 336 519

 

 

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

 

E tū welcomes High Court ruling on steel dumping

E tū says its support for NZ Steel’s complaint of steel-dumping by China has been vindicated by a High Court ruling directing MBIE to reinvestigate.

NZ Steel claimed Chinese producers of galvanised steel coil were heavily subsidised by the Chinese government and this negatively affected its business.

However, in a decision last year, MBIE said it found little evidence of steel dumping with the government deciding not to impose tariffs on Chinese steel makers.

NZ Steel sought a judicial review of the decision, with the High Court ordering MBIE to reconsider the complaint and quashing the government’s decision.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says it was clear at the time that MBIE’s investigation lacked rigour, and the union welcomes the High Court’s decision on the matter.

“Among the key grounds cited by NZ Steel for its judicial review was the paucity of information provided to the investigation by the Chinese government and producers – something that disturbed us at the time, so we feel vindicated by this decision,” says Joe.

“Now, not only will MBIE have to reinvestigate – it will also have to be much more rigorous in scrutinising the level of support for Chinese steel manufacturers by banks and other entities – which it failed to do first time around.”

Joe says the ruling has also upheld NZ Steel’s view that overseas investigations had found the Chinese Government had subsidised steel products, thus providing relevant evidence which MBIE wrongly discounted in its advice to the Minister.

“This is a common-sense ruling which recognises the very poor quality of MBIE’s original inquiry,” says Joe.

“We’ll be keen to see what they come back with next time, given they’ve just been given pretty clear directions on what’s expected.

“For the sake of our steel industry, it’s critical to get it right.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Joe Gallagher Industry Coordinator E tū ph. 027 591 0015

E tū welcomes Suffrage Day equal pay bill

E tū has welcomed the introduction to parliament today of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill, which the union believes will ease the way for women pursuing equal pay claims.

Government Ministers, Eugenie Sage and Iain Lees-Galloway announced the new bill at a Suffrage Day petition re-enactment at parliament by union women to mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

The Bill preserves the Equal Pay Act 1972, which E tū has always supported.

It also includes the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles but without the hurdles proposed by the last Government, which would have made it very difficult for women to take equal pay cases.

“The previous government reneged on the joint working group recommendations and deliberately set it up to make it harder for women to get equal pay,” says New Zealander of the Year and E tū equal pay pioneer, Kristine Bartlett.

Kristine, who was present at today’s announcement, says it’s the perfect way to mark the suffrage anniversary.

“It’s wonderful!  That’s the great thing about it – it’s happening on this historic day,” Kristine says.

E tū’s Campaign lead organiser, Yvette Taylor says Kate Sheppard believed equal pay was the next great battle after votes for women.

“It’s fantastic to hear about the new legislation on such a special day,” says Yvette.

“We’re pleased that it sets a lower bar for cases to progress, particularly with the parties involved able to set their own comparators.

This resolves two key problems with the previous legislation,” she says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Yvette Taylor E tū’s Campaign lead organiser ph. 027 431 8486