Category: Communications

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  Skilled workers have been forced out and they’ve been replaced by inexperienced people, who will work for less or in this case, nothing at all.”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

Fairfax axe for sports reporters another blow to regional journalism

 

E tū says a proposal by Fairfax Media to axe its entire team of 11 regional sports and racing reporters sends the message that the regions don’t matter.

E tū Industry Coordinator Communications, Joe Gallagher says the proposal is also another step towards the dismantling of professional regional journalism.

The job losses apply to all regional Fairfax newsrooms and will significantly reduce regional sports coverage on the Stuff website and in regional newspapers.

Joe says it will be a blow for the journalists involved as well as the communities they serve if the proposal proceeds.

“It’s getting harder and harder to be a journalist in the regions as jobs disappear.  In some places, the local paper is now only published three times a week, and this latest move will mean the loss of local sports coverage as well,” says Joe.

“It’s another nail in the coffin of quality journalism with the loss of good jobs as well as professional reporting standards which best serve local communities.

“It’s an abandonment of the regions where sport is an incredibly important part of life, and it’s a major blow to keeping these communities informed.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

E tū commends NZ Post on Paxster safety moves

E tū says it welcomes the safety-first response by NZ Post to a problem with its fleet of Paxster vehicles, which are used to deliver mail and parcels.

NZ Post has pulled the Paxsters from the road after finding a fault with a component part of the vehicles’ shock absorbers.

This week NZ Post will be using alternative means of mail delivery while the vehicles are repaired.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says NZ Post has taken a precautionary approach to the problem to ensure workers are safe, which is to be applauded.

“The safety of workers is critical and it’s a big decision which will see some disruption to services, mostly in urban areas,” says Joe.

“We commend the board over its responsible approach to the issue.”

Joe says the union is engaging with NZ Post to ensure workers’ incomes are not affected and that service disruption is minimised.

ENDS

For more information, contact;

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015

Chorus enjoys profit as workers lose quality jobs

E tū says Chorus’s profit has been achieved at the expense of quality jobs and the integrity of ultrafast broadband (UFB) connections to homes and businesses.

The Chorus result coincides with cable company Broadspectrum announcing today it will exit its connection contracts in Hamilton, Christchurch, Nelson, Blenheim, Rotorua, Taupo, and Whakatane.

The move will affect 119 jobs, including 35 designers and about 50 technicians, with a net loss of about 65 jobs at this stage.

E tū Industry Coordinator Joe Gallagher says the connection contracts will be picked up by Australian company, Universal Communications Group (UCG), which uses an owner-operator model favoured by Chorus because it cuts costs and enhances their profits.

He expects most of the designers will find new jobs with Broadspectrum which will in future focus on laying UFB cables, as well as maintenance of the legacy copper network.

But he says it’s a different story for the technicians.

“UCG’s owner-operator model will effectively require the technicians to “buy” their new jobs.

“They’ll have to purchase their own vehicle and equipment, at great cost,” says Joe.

“In many cases, people will have to borrow the money for the equipment, but there is no guarantee of sufficient work to pay the bills and ensure a decent living,” he says.

“I think a lot of people will walk away because they can’t afford it.”

Joe says it’s likely much of the work will be picked up instead by unskilled migrants, with a resulting decline in the quality of home and business high-speed internet connections.

“That’s abundantly clear by the situation in Auckland where complaints about installations number in the hundreds,” says Joe.

Joe says the sub-contracting of the work is a direct result of Chorus refusing to properly fund companies like Broadspectrum to build and connect the UFB network.

“Chorus can wash its hands of any responsibility for this work by keeping contracts at arms-length, leaving companies like UCG to hammer down costs on their behalf.

“No one benefits here except Chorus.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015