Author: E tū

Scale of Fletcher debacle “gobsmacking”

The construction union, E tū says it is working to clarify the effect of Fletcher Building and Interiors’ huge loss on its members at Fletchers as well as the wider industry.

“We’re still coming to terms with the fact that the country’s biggest building company is no longer bidding for new commercial projects which is just extraordinary,” says Ron Angel, E tū’s Industry Coordinator, Engineering and Infrastructure.

“We’re trying to confirm the facts of what happens next, but we will have members affected by this though it’s unclear yet how many,” he says.

Ron says union organisers had this morning visited Fletcher sites in Christchurch office, where members had been told to expect closure once work is finished on company projects including the city’s Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.

“In the immediate term, we’ll be looking to protect our members’ interests and we hope if there are redundancies that our members can be redeployed in other Fletcher divisions. Some will be entitled to redundancy pay; others won’t.”

Ron says the union had also spoken with members about the factors behind the near-$1 billion loss.

“In part, this is a result of too many people in head office doing the paperwork and pushing up overheads, and too few people on the ground doing the work,” says Ron.

He says a lack of experience in project management also meant a lot of mistakes especially on the Justice precinct project.

“Our members have told us that 50 percent of that project was built twice.

“The guys say they’d put stuff up and a week later they’d be pulling it down again because the design changed or there were design faults, cracked tiles and the like. And there was too little supervision, with no one taking responsibility for the quality of the work.”

Poor cost control had also been flagged by the division’s retiring Chair, Sir Ralph Norris.

Ron says the loss is “a salutary indictment of the sub-contracting model which is killing the construction industry in New Zealand.

“It means Fletchers has been unable to control costs and quality on these big projects and the result is just gobsmacking.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Ron Angel E tū Industry Coordinator, Engineering and Infrastructure ph. 027 591 0055

 

 

Equal pay deal for mental health support workers

The Council of Trade Unions, the Public Service Association and E tū welcome the Government’s commitment to equal pay for mental health and addiction support workers.

Health Minister Dr David Clark says his ministry will now begin formal negotiations with unions, providers and District Health Boards.

An estimated 3800 working people were excluded from last year’s care and support settlement after the National government refused to include them in negotiations.

“This is good news for working people who were left out of last year’s landmark care and support settlement,” CTU President Richard Wagstaff says.

“When government, ministries and unions work together, great outcomes can be achieved – and we look forward to fruitful negotiations.”

Unions expect these negotiations to occur with urgency, to extend the full terms of the care and support settlement to people working in mental health and addiction support.

“Our members in mental health and addiction support will be encouraged by today’s announcement,” PSA Assistant National Secretary Kerry Davies says.

“This proves to them that the work they do is valued – and so are the vulnerable people who they support every day.”

Unions say many workers in mental health and addiction support had considered moving to other types of care and support work where pay rates have increased after the settlement.

“We hope all the parties can work together to get this settlement in place for mental health and addiction support workers,” E tū Assistant National Secretary John Ryall says.

“The care and support settlement showed what a difference equal pay can make to the lives of these workers – but it’s not equal if it’s not for everyone.”

ENDS

For more information contact:

Jessica Williams | Media Advisor, PSA

Email: jessica.williams@psa.org.nz, Tel: +64 (0)4 816 5028, Mobile: +64 (0)27 600 5498

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Disappointment as JNL confirms job losses

E tū is extremely disappointed with the confirmation today that Juken New Zealand Ltd (JNL) intends axing the jobs of about 90 workers at its East Coast mill in Gisborne.

E tū represents production workers at the mill.

E tū Engineering Industry Coordinator, Ron Angel says workers were expecting the worst when the proposal was first mooted late last month, “but it’s still a bitter blow,” he says.

“This is one of Gisborne’s biggest employers and the only significant wood manufacturer in the area. Many families have relied on the mill for their livelihood, and these job losses will mean hardship for some.”

Ron says E tū and FIRST Union, which also has members on site, are doing all they can for JNL’s workers who face an uncertain future.

“We are still waiting to hear who does and doesn’t have a job. Some have chosen voluntary redundancy, but others face a two-week wait to see how goes and who stays,” he says.

Ron says both unions have been working with JNL to manage the issues arising from the  restructure and the subsequent job losses.

“That work will continue as our members await certainty over their position,” he says.

Ron says there is redundancy pay, thanks to a union-negotiated redundancy agreement and both unions were working to ensure redundant workers received help with retraining, job search and the preparation of CVs.

He says there is some hope with the recent sale of the former Prime sawmill site, also in Gisborne, to Far East Sawmills, which hopes to offer jobs to about 60 people.

“That would obviously be welcome,” says Ron.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Ron Angel Industry Coordinator, Engineering and Infrastructure E tū ph. 027 591 0055

Reality hits home for Cadbury workers

It will be a sad day for Dunedin as 85 permanent, full-time Cadbury confectionary workers end their employment with the company, effective Friday.

The loss of their jobs ends many years of collective contribution to an iconic Dunedin institution, and “there will be tears and sadness, as people realise it’s over,” says E tū delegate and Sub-branch Vice President, Teresa Gooch.

“Many will look back on years of camaraderie and really, the good times of working at Cadbury where workmates have been like family. Cadbury has been good to us. There is a real feeling of loss, so there will be grieving,” she says.

“It’s also hard for those of us who will still be working here – we know we’re next and we’re also feeling for our departing friends.

“Some have found jobs and gone already, but many others are very anxious.”

However, Teresa says people need to stay positive.

“I would urge people to have some faith about where they go from here. A lot of employers are keen to take on the Cadbury workers due to their committed work ethic, reliability and service to the company. These are wanted workers.

“As long as they’re active and positive there’s a good chance they’ll get a job somewhere.”

E tū Industry Coordinator Food, Phil Knight says the union remains concerned over the demise of many good quality jobs, especially in provincial centres like Dunedin.

“These have been good, permanent, full-time jobs and those aren’t always easy to find. We know some people are leaving Dunedin to get into jobs so it’s very disruptive,” he says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Teresa Gooch E tū delegate and Sub-branch Vice President: ph. 027 231 8119

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator, Food Sector ph. 027 591 0052.

 

 

 

 

MBIE investigation pending of Chorus UFB contractors

E tū understands the employment practices of Chorus’s contractors and subcontractors will be the subject of an inquiry by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

This follows cases of unpaid workers on a “volunteer” scheme run by Chorus subcontractor, UCG in Nelson – which Chorus subsequently put a stop to.

A second case involved a Nelson man who was paid $12 an hour – more than 20 percent less than the minimum wage – by Chorus subcontractor, Frontier Communications.

E tū has welcomed the inquiry, saying it comes as workers for another Chorus contractor come forward.

“Our understanding is, the news of this inquiry has seriously rattled Chorus which has instructed its contractors and subcontractors to make sure their house is in order,” says Joe.

“We’re very supportive of this investigation – we’ve been seeking this for months.”

In the latest cases to emerge, migrant cablers faced multiple breaches of their employment contracts. For the first few weeks, instead of wages they only received an allowance of about $150 per week. Then, money was deducted from their pay though they weren’t told why.  They also worked up to 80 hours a week, some of it unpaid, while some weeks there was no work at all.

“Chorus has said any labour abuses involving its contractors are isolated cases,” says Joe.

“We think it’s the tip of the iceberg, but we do know Chorus has moved swiftly to issue a warning to its contractors.

“We have said before that any inquiry needs to ensure strict confidentiality for any workers prepared to speak out about what’s happening. That’s the only way to find out just how widespread this exploitation is, and to protect the jobs of these vulnerable workers,” he says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

Joe can put interested reporters in touch with two workers who are prepared to speak with media on condition of anonymity.

Time to call Chorus to account over contracting

E tū says Chorus must be called to account after revelations about the work practices at Frontier Communications – a subcontractor to Chorus UFB cabling contractor, Visionstream.

Former Frontier Communications worker, Wilem Brown of Nelson says he was expected to install UFB cables, despite receiving no training, and was only paid $12.00 an hour – less than the minimum wage.

E tū’s Communications Industry Coordinator Joe Gallagher says Wilem’s story should be sounding alarm bells.

E tū’s Industry Coordinator, Communications, Joe Gallagher says Wilem’s story should be sounding alarm bells.

“First of all, there’s the human cost here. Wilem thought his new job was the start of a new career as a cable technician. Instead he was exploited and now he’s out of a job,” says Joe.

“Secondly, we believe his story is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve also had the case of the so-called “volunteers” working for free for Chorus subcontractor, UCG.

“While both cases have come to light in Nelson, there are similar problems elsewhere. It is clear Chorus’s contracting model is broken,” he says.

Joe says Chorus is under-funding its contractors and it’s time something was done to preserve the integrity of the UFB installation programme.

“We need an industry framework which provides clear employment conditions, sound parameters for health and safety and delivers a good outcome for the consumer,” he says.

Joe says a Government inquiry is also needed into the installation standards for this critical infrastructure.

“The pyramid nature of contracting is insidious. The further you get away from the source, the harder it is to hold companies to account.  But Chorus needs to be called to account,” says Joe.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

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

 

Free industry training will promote trades

The Government’s policy of a year’s free tertiary education for eligible students will benefit workers and business alike, says E tū.

Of the 80,000 students forecast to take up the offer next year, 50,000 are expected to enrol in NZQA accredited industry training.

In the case of industry training, eligible students will enjoy two years fee free.

“There are currently about 11,000 construction apprentices but there’s a need for another 40,000 workers over the next five years,” says E tū’s Industry Coordinator, Engineering and Infrastructure, Ron Angel.

“We should have begun training five years ago, but the next best time to start is right now, so this will certainly provide a boost for the relevant Industry Training Organisations to promote apprenticeships,” he says.

“This is an opportunity for more firms to take that jump and say, ‘yeah, I’m taking on an apprentice’, and having a go at it.”

Ron says the policy will also sit well alongside the Government’s focus on forestry and regional development.

“There are huge opportunities in forestry and the primary sector where we can add value to workers and get highly trained, highly skilled people who know there’s a future and a career ahead of them,” he says.

Electrician and E tū Executive member, Ray Pilley says the trades have been neglected for too long and anything which promotes trades to young people is good.

“I’m an electrician and I’ve been in the industry for over 30 years. I’ve had a fantastic career. It’s well paid and you’ve got a job for life.

“The old saying is true – got a trade, got it made.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Ron Angel E tū Industry Coordinator, Engineering and Infrastructure ph. 027 591 0055

To speak to Ray Pilley, please contact:

Karen Gregory-Hunt, E tū Communications Officer ph. 022 269 1170

 

 

E tū President “excited” by new health role

E tū congratulates President, Muriel Tunoho on her appointment to Health Minister, David Clark’s Ministerial Advisory Group.

Muriel will be joining an impressive team of highly experienced health experts including Dr Karen Poutasi, Dr Lester Levy and Professor David Tipene-Leach.

Muriel says the call from the Minister to join the group came as a complete surprise.

“My first question was, ‘Why me?’ But I think it’s because of my extensive experience working in the health sector as well as my work with the unions and workers,” says Muriel.

“That includes a clear understanding of the importance of fairness and equity in our health system.”

Muriel is the National Coordinator of Healthcare Aotearoa, which advocates for iwi and community-based primary health providers, a position she believes also influenced her selection.

“What I’m really excited about is bringing the voices of those who are struggling the most into those discussions.

“With health, there’s always such a focus on health systems and health technologies and I want to put people back at the centre of things.”

Muriel says she’s also impressed with the expertise of other advisory group members.

“I feel in safe hands. As I look at the vast experience they bring and hopefully the additional strengths I can bring, I’m feeling really optimistic and excited about this.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Muriel Tunoho President E tū ph. 027 618 5467

Labour hire court win against LSG Sky Chefs

E tū has won its Employment Court case against LSG Sky Chefs for its exploitative use of labour hire workers.

LSG is the world’s largest inflight airline catering company with a near monopoly on airline catering in New Zealand.

E tū took the case on behalf of Kamlesh Prasad and Liutofaga Tulai, who worked for LSG through labour hire firm, Solutions Personnel Limited, also trading as Blue Collar Limited.

The union asked the court to declare that the workers’ real employer is LSG Sky Chefs – not the labour hire company – and the Employment Court agreed.

“This is a huge victory for the labour hire workers at LSG,” says E tū Assistant National Secretary, John Ryall.

“It is also a victory for the growing number of workers who aren’t directly employed by the firms they work for and are deprived of their rights under New Zealand employment law,” he says.

The court decision also recognises the exploitative nature of LSG’s use of labour hire, citing Ms Tulai’s working week of up to 62 hours and noting at one point she worked 34 full days of work without a day off.

Both plaintiffs worked for years for minimum wage or just above, with no holiday, sick leave or Kiwisaver entitlements, and they had to pay their own ACC cover.

“The Employment Court has recognised that the use of labour hire is a way to shift all the employment risk on to very vulnerable workers and to avoid employment obligations,” says John.

Liutofaga Tulai who worked for LSG for six years before losing her job will be eligible for backpay, as will Mr Prasad whom the court has ruled is an employee.

John says the decision is also a big win for LSG’s unionised labour hire workers who are now entitled to the superior pay and conditions included in the LSG Collective Agreement for directly employed workers.

E tū is now calling on the airline catering industry to get rid of labour hire completely and for all major airlines, including the national carrier, Air New Zealand, to take responsibility for this issue.

“A lot of people are being exploited by LSG and the airlines have to take some responsibility as a customer for the labour practices in their supply chains,” says John.

E tū is also urging the Government to investigate the use of labour hire in New Zealand and consider ways to remedy the denial of basic employment rights for these workers.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

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