Category: General

LSG SkyChefs decision “important legal victory”

E tū is welcoming the decision of the Court of Appeal to turn down an appeal application from global airline catering company LSG SkyChefs, cementing an important legal victory for New Zealand workers.

Last year, the Employment Court ruled that hundreds of labour hire workers working in LSG SkyChef’s catering operation were in fact employees of the company, and if they were union members then they were entitled to the employment conditions set out in the union collective agreement.

E tū Assistant National Secretary John Ryall said that the Court of Appeal decision meant that the litigation was at an end, and LSG SkyChefs would need to pay the labour hire workers their proper entitlements.

“This decision cements our very important legal victory for the New Zealand workforce,” says John.

“Labour hire is being regularly used by many New Zealand companies to move the risk of employment on to a group of very vulnerable workers. It is time that the companies using labour hire in this way changed their business model.

“Our union will be knocking on the door of other companies who were also exploiting the mostly migrant labour hire workforce.”

ENDS

For more information or comment:
John Ryall, 027 520 1380

Fair Pay Agreements: work begins

E tū welcomes the setting up of the working group on Fair Pay Agreements.

E tū’s National Director of Campaigns, Annie Newman says today’s announcement is the fulfilment of a key election promise to workers, who need greater support for their pay and conditions.

FPAs would set basic standards for pay and conditions across an entire industry, through collective bargaining by businesses and unions.

“The stories in the media every day revealing workers being ripped off show that our current employment relations system is not working,” says Annie.

“Workers in small workplaces, especially in the service sector, have very little bargaining power. Even in industries where there are labour shortages, employers are too scared to lift their pay in case another employer undermines them,” she says.

“Fair Pay Agreements will set minimum standards for wages and conditions and will give these workers a real say in their minimum employment conditions.”

E tū Industry Co-ordinator Jill Ovens says a particular concern is the plight of vulnerable workers such as security guards.

“We have collective agreements with the bigger security companies that provide for hours of work, training, health and safety, protections of workers’ rights if they get into trouble, and so on.

“But these companies tell us they are constantly being undercut by cowboys in the industry who have a churn of guards on individual agreements.”

Jill says E tū is working with the Security Association to improve the professionalism of workers in the industry, but that means bringing the terms and conditions of these ‘bottom feeders’ into line.

She says government entities are prominent among those rewarding tenders which cut costs, including workers’ wages and hours to the bone, in “a race to the bottom”.

Annie Newman said employers’ doom and gloom rhetoric about FPAs should be discounted as they had wrongly told people they would pave the way for industrial unrest.

“There is no right to strike for an FPA and all Agreements will be negotiated collectively,” she says.

E tū has also welcomed the inclusion on the FPA team of E tū Assistant Secretary, John Ryall.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Annie Newman E tū Director of Campaigns ph. 027 204 6340

Jill Ovens Industry Co-ordinator ph. 027 446 4966

 

 

New Zealander of the Year urges women to “reach high”

New Zealander of the Year, and E tū’s equal pay hero, Kristine Bartlett has marked International Women’s Day with a message to women fighting for equal pay.

“Stand up for what you believe is right and fair and reach high,” says Kristine.

Kristine, who led the campaign for pay equity for care and support workers, says the historic settlement won last year has lifted pay for these predominantly female workers and set a precedent for other women.

That includes early childhood workers who will today be among those presenting the Council of Trade Union’s Treat Her Right equal pay petition to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Dr Jackie Blue.

“I had a chat with them about a year ago and they acknowledged I’d given them inspiration to fight, and I said, that’s what you’ve got to do if you want something and you deserve it.

“Never give up.  Keep going the way I did the last five years, along with my union.”

Kristine is delighted that this year, International Women’s Day coincides with the global campaign by women against sexual harassment. She says in many ways 2018 is the year of women.

“I’m just so pleased about that – I can say “#MeToo” because I’ve been down that road as well,” she says.

“It’s just so important that we’re starting to do something positive and encouraging people not to be afraid but to speak the truth and let people know what’s going on and what we’ve been through.

“We need a bit of respect in our lives and we deserve it. #MeToo is great – all over the world women are getting the courage to speak up.”

Moe mai ra Jim Anderton

E tū is saddened by the passing of Jim Anderton, our former Deputy Prime Minister and a huge figure in the Labour Movement.

E tū Assistant National Secretary John Ryall says that Jim’s legacy is a better New Zealand for working people.

“He was bold, hard-working, and courageous. He was known for standing up for what was right, even when it was hard,” John says.

“Workers can thank Jim and the movement he led for policies like four weeks annual leave, the introduction of paid parental leave, and the creation of Kiwibank.

“Jim spent his political career fighting for working people and their families. He had an intrinsic respect and passion for everyday workers, the outcome of which was a powerful voice for workers in parliament, in government, and on the streets.

“The values Jim applied to politics were in many ways exemplary for the wider Labour Movement, particularly as he was so aspirational for a better world.

“The E tū family passes on our condolences to Jim’s wife Carole and their loved ones.”

ENDS

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 fights employer moves to undermine minimum wage rise

E tū is very disappointed to learn that some employers are trying to avoid the upcoming minimum wage increase by building workers’ allowances into their basic hourly pay.

The allowances are typically paid for such things as service, travel time and in recognition of shift work.

E tū’s Industry Coordinator Food Sector, Phil Knight says the union believes it may be dealing with a collective employer strategy to undermine a higher minimum wage.

“For employers to move allowances into the basic rate would be to neutralise any increase provided for in the hourly rate effective from 1 April 2018,” says Phil.

“This would undermine workers’ right to fair pay and a reasonable standard of living, especially those on the lowest possible pay rate who are struggling to pay their way now and can’t live on less.”

Phil says E tū is currently bargaining with two employers about this issue, and it is urging workers who are not currently in a union to join so they are protected.

“Union members know not to sign these contracts and they have the union officials available to advise and represent them.

“However, non-union workers won’t be so sure and may think they have no choice but to agree.  They need to know that is not the case, and if they do sign, they are giving away benefits and a minimum wage increase they desperately need.

“Meanwhile, we would say to employers: don’t do this.  It is unreasonable and unfair, and you are only going to make life more difficult for the most disadvantaged workers who have enough problems already.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

 

 

E tū Aviation welcomes new Government’s rejection of low wage economy

E tū Aviation has welcomed the new Prime Minister’s call for productive relationships between business and workers, and an end to low pay and its negative economic effects.

In her speech to the Council of Trade Unions yesterday, Jacinda Ardern praised the High-Performance Engagement agreement which E tū and other unions have with Air New Zealand.

“That agreement means business and unions sit down together and help each other with their problems and the results speak for themselves,” says E tū’s Head of Aviation, Kelvin Ellis.

“Working together has saved jobs, ensured good pay and conditions and helped transform Air New Zealand into one of the world’s most successful and profitable airlines.

“The new Government has clearly drawn the lesson that working together benefits all parties, and we’re delighted with its support for this model.”

Kelvin has also welcomed Ms Ardern’s rejection of the low-wage approach of many employers which actually erodes productivity.

“Ms Ardern has correctly made the link between an engaged, well-paid workforce and Air New Zealand’s strong financial position.

“We fully support her message on this: that low wages aren’t simply a problem for low-wage workers, they are a problem for businesses and the economy as a whole.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Kelvin Ellis Head of E tū Aviation ph. 027 598 5735