Author: E tū

Strike at Maori TV

Union members at Maori TV will walk off the job for 24 hours on August 8 in protest over the TV channel’s unfair and discriminatory treatment.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says the action follows months of delays by MTV in addressing members’ pay claims, with the company telling the union in October that it had no money.

“We were told they were waiting for the board to provide guidance on a new financial management plan and they’d come back with an answer in a couple of week.

“We were supposed to reconvene for talks in November, but we heard nothing by Christmas.

“then we were informed by our members that Maori TV had through performance appraisals had paid non-union staff a bonus before Xmas and a wage adjustment in Jan this year.

We think they’ve undermined the bargaining process by telling us they have no money while giving bonuses and a pay rise to non-union workers.”

And so, our members feel they’ve been discriminated against for being, and belonging to E tū.

Joe says Maori TV has not acted in good faith.

“That despite their claiming to be a values-based organisation, but they don’t seem to live those values, despite the union working to build a good relationship.”

“The direction and behaviour of the management at MTV is seriously lacking for a company and organisation which promotes the values of tikanga.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

Workers must be consulted on home support changes

Stability and certainty for home care workers and their clients must be central to any decisions made around service providers in the Wellington region, the PSA and E tū unions say.

Capital and Coast DHB and Hutt Valley DHB are calling for tenders for home care support services, after calling time on their existing arrangement of a sole provider model (currently Access Community Health).

The DHBs have made clear their intention to contract more than one provider to deliver this service, and unions say secure and stable work for support workers must be central to any new contract.

“Care and support workers fought for and won proper recognition of the crucial work they do, and we are concerned they may be left out of this process,” PSA National Secretary Kerry Davies says.

“Whoever wins this contract must be properly funded to do this work, including all obligations around training, guaranteed hours and in-between travel.”

The PSA and E tū understand DHBs intend to consult with stakeholders, and say workers must be included in the process.

“If we are to genuinely move towards quality care for our elderly people, then clients and support workers must be consulted,” E tū Delegate Tamara Baddeley says.

“Without this consultation, DHBs cannot deliver the care and support elderly people need.”

PSA delegate Helen Amey says she’s worried about uncertainty and instability for workers, because this is the third time many of them have been through this process.

“We are also worried about the impact on our clients, who rely on us to live independently and need continuity of support.”

The PSA and E tū say maintaining the recent gains achieved by support workers must be core to any decisions made.

The unions urge the DHBs to begin proper consultation with workers and their representatives as a matter of urgency.

Sistema CEO hiding from workers

Sistema CEO Drew Muirhead has refused to meet with worker representatives to receive a petition signed by more than 300 Sistema workers.

The petition reminds Sistema that its high productivity levels and product quality are due in large part to its workers, and in return they should be respected and rewarded with fair pay.

E tū advocate Neville Donaldson says the signatories include both union and non-union workers at the giant plastics firm, “which shows you how aggrieved people are feeling,” he says.

“Anger over their working conditions extends across the entire factory floor. When non-union workers join their unionised colleagues to protest about lack of respect, you know there’s a problem,” Neville says.

“In this case, everyone wanted to express their frustration over not being valued for their contribution to Sistema’s success – something Sistema’s management has refused to take on board.

“They feel no obligation to respect or reward workers fairly.”

E tū delegates at Sistema say workers are fed up with compulsory 60-hour weeks for minimum rates of pay, as well as the terrible working conditions.

This week workers revealed via social media the blisters and callouses on their hands from the hard work they do. As one delegate told E tū: “It’s a sweatshop.”

Neville says Sistema’s refusal to deal with the concerns of its workers goes to the heart of the labour reforms of the current Government which has recognized the need for change.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Neville Donaldson E tū advocate and National Director of Industries ph. 027 543 5312

Strike! Taharoa workers have had enough

E tū union members at Taharoa Ironsands mine have issued a strike notice today, as the company continues to refuse a fair deal for the workers.

The industrial action will take effect from just after midnight on 24 August, and involves a complete ban on loading the iron slurry onto ships, meaning it will remain onshore until further notice.

E tū organiser Joe Gallagher says the strike is in response to the completely unreasonable approach to wage talks taken by the company, with new boss Wayne Coffey calling the shots.

“The company, under the guidance of Wayne Coffey, is determined to reduce terms and conditions for current employees and to strip away long-standing rights and entitlements for future workers,” says Joe.

“Ever since Mr Coffey took over, the Taharoa community has been bullied and side-lined. The workers have had enough of the company’s refusal to treat them fairly,” he says.

Joe says the mining operations have been vital to the welfare of the remote Taharoa community, which has been a shining example of a self-sustaining community.

“Local groups and leaders banded together to establish a local employment policy that, on the whole, has functioned well until this point.

“Now workers, their families, and the wider community are deeply concerned that Mr Coffey has no regard for the local people nor the generations that will come after them.”

Joe says that high union density onsite and strong local support has encouraged Taharoa workers to stand up to the company and protect their way of life.

“The workers won’t back down,” says Joe.

“They’re highly skilled, highly organised, and know that they deserve the respect that Taharoa Ironsands Ltd won’t give them. Every single member voted in favour of taking this action.

“The message from the community is simple. They won’t let their terms and conditions go backwards. They will stand up together, not just for themselves, but for their colleagues and family that come after them.

“Mr Coffey seems to be saying it’s his way, or the highway. Well, the community that lives and works together will be standing tall together to show him that we see things differently.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015

Mental health pay equity settlement signed

Around 5000 mental health and addiction support workers will be paid what they are worth, after the ground-breaking care and support settlement was extended to cover them.

Health minister David Clark has signed the $173.5 million pay equity settlement, along with representatives from unions, providers and the Ministry of Health.

“We’re really happy the government has honoured its election commitment to extend the care and support settlement to mental health and addiction support workers,” says E tū Assistant National Secretary John Ryall.

“They’ve had to wait but it’s been worth waiting for,” he says.

“I think it’s a real triumph for the workers who have worked tirelessly for so little pay for so long,” says E tū delegate Leon Tunoho who has worked for nine years as a mental health and addictions support worker.

“I also hope this helps retain the good people working in this sector as well,” he says.

“These workers were unfairly left out of the equal pay care and support settlement by the National government, and we’re thrilled to see this wrong righted today,” PSA Assistant National Secretary Kerry Davies says.

“They do crucial work with some of the most vulnerable people in New Zealand, and today they are getting what they truly deserve – because they are worth 100%.”

PSA Delegate Tarn Evans says today is a hard-won victory which will make a huge difference.

“Many mental health and addiction support workers are paid at or just above the minimum wage, and it’s really hard to make ends meet.

“Now, we’ll be able to feed our families, pay our bills and put fuel in our cars without worrying if there’s enough left in our bank accounts.”

The settlement will see more than half of workers in the sector get an increase of more than $3 an hour – and one in five will get more than $5 an hour.

The increase will be backdated to July 2017.

 

No relief at Sistema sweatshop

E tū says Sistema’s American owners are determined to preserve the sweatshop conditions established by former owner, Brendan Lindsay who sold the company for $660 million.

The union has been in talks with this wealthy company, seeking better pay and conditions for its mainly migrant workers.

But E tū advocate, Neville Donaldson says Sistema’s multi-billion-dollar owner, Newell Brands refuses to consider anything more than the bare legal minimum.

“They’ve told us they won’t deliver any pay and conditions much more than the law requires for the vast majority of its staff – that’s bare bones minimum wages for workers who are required to work five 12-hour days – that’s 60 hours a week.

“Overtime” rates are just $2 more per hour and is only paid out after 60 hours per week.

“Some people work 12- hour days, seven days a week,” says Neville who accuses Sistema of the systematic exploitation of its predominantly Indian, Filipino and Pasifika workforce.

“They’re predominantly migrants and come from a back ground of having no choice but to accept whatever they are offered,” he says.

“Sistema is exploiting this belief, and the workers as a result.”

E tū delegate, Maria Latu says,” People think they are made to work like robots here. The operators are overworked and the money they get at the end of the week isn’t worth it.

“They deserve better,” she says.

Neville says Sistema is a perfect example of why workers need fair pay agreements.

“Sistema seems proud to be the lowest paid plastics firm in the country, with the worst conditions of employment and the longest hours, whilst lauding the success of its products.

“It must be challenged over its behaviour. If it goes unchallenged, then other employers may feel they also have to reduce pay and conditions to compete.

“Sistema needs to grow a soul and consider what’s fair for workers. The public is growing impatient with wealthy, exploitative companies – and that certainly describes Sistema.”

Neville says the union is looking to mediation next month to break the stalemate.

He says the union has strong support on site, with membership growing to more than 200 as workers grow sick of the long hours, low pay and fatigue of their grinding working week.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Neville Donaldson E tū National Industry Strategy Director (Food) ph. 027 543 5312

 

 

E tū: Nestle job losses “a bolt from the blue”

The union, E tū says the announcement of job losses at Nestle’s factory at Wiri in Auckland has come as a “bolt from the blue”.

The union has about 200 members at the plant, where up to 55 workers could lose their jobs after Nestle reached a provisional agreement to sell its sugar and confectionary business to private equity firm, Quadrant Private Equity.

Well-known Kiwi brands affected by the sale include Mackintosh’s, Heards, Black Knight liquorice, Life Savers and Oddfellows.

The restructure will also see production of Nestle’s Scorched Almonds move to a third-party contractor in Melbourne, while production of the iconic Lollipops brand will move to China.

“We were aware of the sell-off of product lines and cuts to staff overseas, so we asked the company specifically if there were any such plans for New Zealand,” says Phil Knight, E tū Industry Coordinator, Manufacturing and Food.

“We were assured there were none, so this has come as a bolt from the blue,” he says.

“Not only is this the opposite of what we were told, but we weren’t invited to the meetings they held with our members late yesterday afternoon to deliver this news, prior to the public announcement.

“So, we’re very disappointed. The company has issued a letter with its reasons for this restructure and sell-off and announcing a consultation process.  The union is making every case for a decent timeframe for this, given the probability of job losses.”

Phil says workers may be offered jobs at Quadrant’s Levin-based factory, or in Melbourne, “but we have yet to learn the detail of the sale proposal let alone any alternative work offers.”

In the meantime, he says the union is supporting its members “who are going through the usual range of emotions that you’d expect from an announcement like this.”

“While the union-negotiated collective agreement has very generous redundancy provisions, it is not the same as a job, and we are worried about this coming on top of other job losses in the food manufacturing industry in New Zealand,” says Phil.

Phil notes the decision comes soon after the Cadbury closure and follows announcements of future job losses at Griffins and Kraft Heinz Watties.

“This is yet another example of a global corporate making decisions which adversely affect local workers,” he says.

“I think it’s time for New Zealanders to think carefully about what products and businesses they support, and where the profits made go to.

“Where they have a choice and the products are competitively priced and of a good standard, we would urge them to consider buying New Zealand-made products only.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

 

 

$21,000 ERA win for Gateway Trust member

 

E tū has welcomed a decision by the Employment Relations Authority that the sacking of its member, Caro McFadden by Nelson’s Gateway Trust was unjustified.

The Authority awarded Caro a total of $21,594.00 – including $6594.49 for lost wages and holiday pay, as well as $15,000 for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to her feelings.

Gateway Trust provides in-house and out-reach mental health services for people across the upper South Island.

Caro’s job was disestablished following a service restructure and she failed to secure one of three new managerial positions.

She was subsequently dismissed during a period when she was invited to consider a redeployment offer and whilst she was off sick with a doctor’s certificate for stress related to the imminent loss of her job.

The Authority found Caro had been unjustifiably dismissed.

In its ruling it said no fair and reasonable employer would have dismissed her in circumstances where they failed to meet her face to face to discuss her options once she recovered from her illness and learned of her decision in relation to alternative work.

“E tū took this case on behalf of our member, Caro McFadden after her unfair treatment by the Gateway Trust and we are delighted that the decision to challenge her dismissal has been vindicated by the Authority’s ruling.  Caro deserves this win,” says Ria Holmes, E tū organiser in Nelson.

In a statement, Caro says the judgement has gone in her favour and she is happy with the outcome.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Ria Holmes E tū organiser ph. 027 590 0060

 

 

 

 

Families package to benefit members

E tū says thousands of its members are expected to benefit from the Government’s Families Package, which comes into effect today.

The package includes:

  • widening eligibility for key benefits including Working for Families which will increase for many
  • wider access to the Accommodation supplement and an increase for eligible people in expensive locations such as Auckland and Hamilton
  • a Winter Fuel benefit
  • A lift in the Family Tax Credit and an increase in the abatement threshold.
  • Best Start payments for families with a new baby.

The implementation of the package also coincides with the extension of Paid Parental Leave to 22 weeks.

“The Government is committed to addressing child poverty in this country and the only way to do that is to lift the family income,” says E tū Industry Coordinator, Jill Ovens.

“That’s what this package does in many different ways, including crucially in the child’s first year of life, and for three years for those on low incomes. $3,000 a year will make a huge difference towards giving children a really good start,” she says.

Jill says the extension of paid parental leave will also benefit children by giving parents, whether the father or the mother time to strengthen the bond with their baby.

“That’s all about giving parents choices,” she says.

Jill says the changes are complex and members should check the details of the package to establish their correct entitlements.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Jill Ovens E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 446 4966

We can put media in touch with members who can speak to the Winter Fuel payment and the lift in Working for Families as well as the effect of changing abatement levels on benefits.