Author: E tū

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

E tū calls on Deputy PM to abandon harassment of journalists

The journalists’ union, E tū is calling on the Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, to abandon his harassment of journalists who reported he had been overpaid New Zealand Superannuation.

Mr Peters has already gone to the High Court demanding Newshub journalist, Lloyd Burr and Newsroom co-editor, Tim Murphy provide their phone records, notes and documents related to the superannuation story which ran during the election campaign.

Newsroom reports he has now also told the High Court in Auckland he wants to be paid monetary damages by the two journalists.

E tū’s journalist representative, Brent Edwards says Mr Peters’ attacks on the journalists could have a chilling effect on New Zealand journalism.

The union is also deeply disturbed to find out that in his statement to the court, Mr Peters labelled Lloyd Burr a “National Party political activist”.

Brent says this attack is reprehensible and similar to attacks on journalists in countries like the Philippines, where press freedom and journalists’ safety is taken much less seriously by the Government there.

“As Foreign Minister, Mr Peters should uphold his obligation to support press freedom and journalists’ safety around the world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region,” says Brent.

“If Mr Peters continues to target journalists in New Zealand in an attempt to muzzle them, he does nothing for this country’s reputation abroad as a healthy democracy which values and supports press freedom.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Brent Edwards E tū journalist representative ph. 021 970 815.

 

E tū calls for national memorial ahead of Erebus anniversary

New Zealand’s largest aviation union, E tū is supporting calls by the Erebus families for a national memorial to New Zealand’s biggest aviation disaster.

In 1979, an Air New Zealand scenic flight over Antarctica crashed into Mt Erebus killing all 257 people on board including 20 crew.

Today, E tū aviation representatives will attend the annual wreath-laying at the Erebus Crew Memorial garden at Auckland Airport.

E tū’s Head of Aviation Anita Rosentreter says the memorial remembers the crew who died but there is none with the names of all the victims, which is what the families want.

“We support the families. It’s important we honour the memory of all who died in New Zealand’s worst air disaster,” says Anita.

“This would be a place where the families could reflect on what happened and it would serve as a powerful reminder of the need for vigilance where safety is concerned.”

Anita says a recent incident in which a clipboard was left on the cowling of a Jetstar engine and sucked into the engine during a flight shows there is no room for complacency.

“That incident could have been so much worse. Aviation workers know what they do matters every day in terms of preserving the safety of the public and their colleagues.

“Just as we honour the memory of the men who died at Pike River, so we should remember the people who died in the Erebus tragedy as well.”

What: wreath-laying at the Erebus Crew Memorial garden

Where:  Puhinui Rd at Auckland Airport – the memorial is located to the side of the Tom Pearce Drive

When: 28th November 10.30am

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Anita Rosentreter E tū Aviation Director ph. 022 240 9638

 

 

UCG “volunteer” model for Chorus fibre optics build “completely unacceptable”

E tū says the so-called “volunteer” scheme run by Chorus fibre optics contractor, Universal Communications Group is a clear case of migrant exploitation.

E tū’s Communications Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says the union recently learned of the scheme through a UCG document advising its subcontractors of the rules around recruiting these “volunteers”.

“With what’s happened in Nelson, it’s obvious now that this was about exploiting migrants who were contracted to work for free. That’s disgraceful and unacceptable,” says Joe.

Joe says Chorus had no choice but to instruct UCG to scrap the scheme once someone blew the whistle.

However, he says the scheme is the inevitable outcome of Chorus’s determination to drive down the cost of its fibre optic installation programme.

“Chorus has driven the cost so low that experienced contractors like Downer have quit.  Skilled workers have been forced out and they’ve been replaced by inexperienced people, who will work for less or in this case, nothing at all.”

Joe is urging the Government to investigate the true state of the workforce rolling out this  critical infrastructure.

“This is government money so there should be transparency. We shouldn’t be seeing this type of exploitation of workers in New Zealand,” he says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

TVNZ members disappointed with CEO salary increase

TVNZ members of the unions, E tū and the PSA today expressed disappointment that Chief Executive, Kevin Kenrick had accepted salary and bonuses which increased his pay by $500,000 whilst overseeing falling revenues at the state-owned broadcaster.

TVNZ’s net profit for the year declined 89 percent – from $12.7m in 2016 to just $1.4m.

The news of Mr Kenrick’s 16 percent pay rise came as members were presented with a 1 percent increase for the same financial year.

It also comes on the back of an incoming Labour-led government promising to address growing inequality in New Zealand.

This year, staff have been through restructuring which resulted in the loss of more newsroom jobs and other positions across the wider business, in an effort to cut costs to off-set revenue declines.

Union representatives said employees had risen to the challenge of continuing to deliver quality content with fewer resources.

But they considered the Chief Executive’s remuneration deeply cynical in light of a volatile media environment and where TVNZ staff have been offered a pay rise that doesn’t even keep pace with the cost of living.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

 

 

E tū acknowledges Vector as power industry Living Wage leader

E tū would like to congratulate Vector on joining the Living Wage Employer Accreditation programme and would encourage the firms in Vector’s supply chain to do likewise.

E tū Industry Coordinator Communications, Joe Gallagher says Vector’s decision is likely to lift the profile of the Living Wage within the power sector as well as influence other firms to also make the same commitment.

“We have members at Vector and this is recognition of how important the Living Wage is for working people.

“Vector has also committed to paying its contract cleaning staff the Living Wage when that contract comes up for renewal next year, and that’s to be applauded,” says Joe.

He says he also wants to see companies in Vector’s supply chain, which provide lines maintenance and other services, also embrace the Living Wage.

He says Vector is already speaking with its supply companies about this.

“We want to acknowledge Vector which has said they are already in conversation about this, and to encourage these suppliers to make the change.

“It’s important that large businesses recognise they can change the lives of their workers, including contract cleaners and Vector has proved this.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

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