Author: E tū

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

 

E tū support for NZEI Pay Equity Day of Action

E tū support for NZEI Pay Equity Day of Action

E tū says the equal pay settlement for care and support workers made a huge difference to the lives of these members and all women deserve pay equity.

E tū members are among the speakers at rallies tomorrow, organised by the NZEI in support of pay equity for women in education.

E tū’s Women’s Committee Convenor and aged care worker, Marianne Bishop, who will be speaking in Wellington says women must stand together if they are to win pay equity for all.

“The support of other unions and community groups was crucial in helping us secure our settlement. Now it’s our turn to stand in support of pay justice for all women,” says Marianne.

“I raised two sons on very low wages and it was a real struggle. The settlement made a huge difference. I’ve been able to pay off some debts, and for the first time in 6 years, I can afford a dentist, and I can see the doctor when I need to,” she says.

“Women need to be valued and paid a fair wage for the work they do.  It is not right to pay them a low wage because the work they do is deemed to be women’s work.”

Auckland home support worker, Shannon Crowley who will speak in Auckland saw her pay lift by $4.00 an hour, thanks to the settlement.

She says it’s time women in education received the same recognition.

“Things have to change for early childhood teachers and school support staff. They need an hourly rate that says they are valued. It happened for us and it’s time to stand side by side to make this happen for them,” says Shannon.

E tū’s Equal Pay Coordinator, Yvette Taylor says the union is proud to support women working in education.

“These workers are undervalued for the highly skilled work they do,” she says.

“It’s time for the Government to step up and deliver for them, just as the equal pay settlement has delivered for care and support members.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

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

 

 

Union alarmed by fatal assault on security guard

E tū, the union for security guards, says it’s alarmed at the death of a security guard following an assault outside the Papakura Countdown yesterday.

“We send our condolences to the family of this man, who died whilst working to keep others at the site safe,” says Jill Ovens, E tū Industry Coordinator.

“This is a tragedy for the family and will also be very upsetting for the man’s colleagues. No one should go to work and not return home at the end of the day,” she says.

Jill says the situation is particularly concerning given this was the second serious assault on a security guard within the past week.

A guard was also attacked in the Accident and Emergency Department at Auckland Hospital last Friday.

“This is a sobering reminder of the vulnerability of security officers, despite changes to health and safety legislation after the death of Charanpreet Dhaliwal on an Auckland building site in 2011,” says Jill.

“We will be following up in the wake of these attacks to see what lessons can be learned to help keep these workers safe. This is dangerous work, done by people working long hours for very low wages.”

Jill says the union is working with WorkSafe New Zealand and the New Zealand Security Association on best practice guidelines for health and safety for security guards.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Jill Ovens E tū Industry Coordinator, ph. 027 446 4966

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