Category: Politics

Fair tax proposal will benefit workers

E tū supports the report released by the Tax Working Group today, which proposes changes to the tax system, including a capital gains tax.

Assistant National Secretary John Ryall says that the proposals would clearly make the tax system fairer.

“It’s unreasonable for workers to pay tax on every hour on the job, while speculators don’t pay a cent on what they make off some investments,” John says.

“No one seriously argues that we don’t need taxation, so it’s easy to understand that everyone should pay their fair share for all the infrastructure and services our taxes pay for.”

“The capital gains tax would also be part of a much-needed intervention in the housing market, where house prices and rents are soaring far beyond acceptable levels.”

However, John says the tax system could still be improved.

“To really tackle inequality, we do need other changes. If lower income earners shouldered less of the tax burden, we would see outcomes improve across society. The costs of poverty affect everyone.

“While the Tax Working Group’s preference is to increase the bottom tax threshold, the report states that ‘a material reduction in income inequality through the personal tax system would require broader income tax changes’ – we think that’s worth exploring, as well as other options outside of the Tax Working Group’s scope.

“We also need to clean up the secondary tax system which sees many low-paid workers doing multiple jobs paying more than they are obliged to.

“While they can claim this overpayment back as a refund, that added layer of complication is unnecessary and means that some workers miss out.”

ENDS

John can be contacted from 4pm on 027 520 1380

Next step for Fair Pay Agreements

E tū, the largest private sector trade union in New Zealand, is pleased with the recommendations of the Fair Pay Agreement working group, released today.

The report includes strong arguments for the need to change the system to be fairer for workers. It explains how similar industry-wide bargaining systems have been crucial for lifting living standards around the world.

The recommendations are comprehensive and include a detailed design of a Fair Pay Agreement system.

E tū security guard Wayne Richdale says it’s high time for fairness across the security industry.

“I’ve worked in security on just above the minimum wage. It’s tough,” Wayne says.

“Now that I’m on the Living Wage, thanks to our campaign at Wellington City Council, getting by is a lot easier. I wish that all of my colleagues in the security industry were afforded the same respect.”

However, Wayne says it’s not just about decent pay.

“Pay is just one of many issues in the security industry. A decent Fair Pay Agreement could give security guards job security, sort out health and safety issues, ensure decent training and education opportunities, and a whole lot more.

“A lot of the bigger firms try to do things pretty well. It’s the pirates out there that undercut everyone else to get contracts – that’s what’s driving down pay and conditions and that’s what Fair Pay Agreements will address.”

E tū’s Assistant National Secretary John Ryall, who is on the Working Group, says many industries could benefit from a Fair Pay Agreement.

“Security is one of a number of industries where workers are crying out for fair, minimum standards,” says John.

“Many workers, particularly those employed by contractors, are affected by the ‘race to the bottom’ in their industries. This is why workers such as cleaners have been stuck on or just above minimum wage for far too long.

“The recommendations released today are just one step in the process – our union is very eager to see the Government take action on Fair Pay Agreements as soon as possible.

“I’m pleased to have played my part in the process and I’m confident that workers’ voices have been well represented in the process so far.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
John Ryall – 027 520 1380

E tū members may be available for interviews throughout the day, please contact Sam Gribben – 027 204 6329

E tū celebrates largest ever minimum wage increase

The minimum wage is set to increase by $1.20 to $17.70 in April 2019 – the largest increase in the adult minimum wage in New Zealand history in dollar terms.

This is the biggest leap yet towards the Coalition Government’s promise to increase the minimum wage to $20 by 2021.

E tū National Secretary Bill Newson says the increase is another clear demonstration of the Coalition Government’s commitment to working people.

“This Government continues to prove that they really care about workers and their families,” Bill says.

“Lifting the minimum wage is relatively straight forward, and the evidence shows that bringing wages up is the clear path out of poverty in New Zealand.

“Together with the recent Employment Relations Act changes and the ongoing work on Fair Pay Agreements, the Government is taking us in the right direction. This is another good step forward.”

Mareta Sinoti, a cleaner at the National Library in Wellington, says that while the increase is welcome, it’s not going to solve all the problems.

“The thing is, we need a Living Wage,” Mareta says.

“Everything is just too expensive. Rent, food, and transport costs are increasing all the time. When you add up the 10-trip for the train, the costs of clothes for our families, and everything else, it’s just too much.

“It’s great that the minimum wage is going up to $17.70, but how long have we waited for it to get there?”

ENDS

New apprenticeships programme an “excellent initiative”

E tū, the largest private sector union in New Zealand, is celebrating the Government’s focus on apprenticeships in the ‘Mana in Mahi’ programme announced today.

The new policy will help get young Kiwis into apprenticeships by subsidising wages paid to 18-24 year olds who have been on a benefit for six months or more.

E tū Construction Industry Coordinator Ron Angel says that it’s great that construction work is targeted in this programme.

“It’s an excellent initiative. There is plenty of construction work to do, and with so many of our country’s young people not in education or employment it makes a lot of sense to help them into the industry,” Ron says.

“While construction apprentices generally get paid around the minimum wage to begin with, there are opportunities to move up the pay scale relatively quickly.

“This policy should give young people a great opportunity to develop skills for well-paid, meaningful work in the construction industry.”

Ron says that government programmes will be an essential part of preparing New Zealand for the changing world of work.

“The world of work is changing rapidly, and as a nation we need to be preparing young people by giving them the experience and skills needed to handle that. E tū is relieved to have a Government that’s looking towards the future.”

ENDS

For more information or comment:
Ron Angel, 027 591 0055
If Ron cannot answer straight away, please leave a message and he will return your call.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

E tū: labour reforms long over-due

E tū says proposed changes to the Employment Relations Act are long over-due and essential to addressing widespread labour abuses in New Zealand.

However, it opposes the amendment which would retain 90-day trial periods in workplaces with fewer than 20 workers.

In its submission on the Bill, the union says the changes recognise the role of unions in improving workers’ lives and the need to level the playing field.

“The previous National Government changed the law to weaken protections for our members, particularly the most vulnerable, such as cleaners and security guards,” says John Ryall, E tū Assistant National Secretary.

“The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of employers, and the changes would go a long way towards legitimising the vital role of unions in improving pay and conditions, and rebuilding respect between workers and their employers,” he says.

In particular, John says the union supports an amendment to Part 6A of the Act, to restore protections for vulnerable workers in firms of less than 20 people.

“The exemption to this protection has resulted in the decimation of cleaning jobs and abuses of cleaners on a huge scale. Bullying, cuts to hours and jobs and short-pays are endemic in this industry,” says John.

E tū also strongly opposes the Bill’s preservation of 90-day trial periods for employers with fewer than 20 workers.

John says 90-day trials should be scrapped altogether.

“This unfair law has been used on tens of thousands of people, and is devastating for many,” he says.

He cites the case of a member who recently won a settlement after being sacked on the last day of her 90-day trial at a top plastics firm, after she notified the company she couldn’t work because she had a sick child.

“This was a disgraceful example of how unfairly this law has been used,” John says.

ENDS

For further information, contact;

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

John will be presenting E tū’s submission to the Education and Workforce Select Committee on Wednesday, 23 May at 10.45am, together with E tū members.

 

Budget invests in key priorities

E tū has welcomed the budget as a first step in dealing with some important priorities for working people, with much needed investment in the health, education and welfare of all New Zealanders.

As well as initiatives which will reduce medical costs for many E tū members, the Budget includes a massive investment of $42 billion dollars over four years in capital spending.

This includes billions of dollars in new capital for hospitals, schools and homes, as well as new infrastructure including rail and roading.

“As well as the financial fillip for the economy which this will provide, it also means thousands of new jobs in industries such as construction,” says Bill Newson, E tū National Secretary.

“It’s good to see the spending committed to addressing the country’s social and infrastructure deficit.

“Yes, the economy is doing well, but the benefits have not been shared fairly. This budget puts money where it’s needed, in health, education and housing which will also help our many members on low incomes,” says Bill.

Bill has also applauded the commitment to increasing the number of labour inspectors.

“This will help enhance the inspectorate’s ability to monitor and investigate labour abuses which are rife across many of the industries we represent,” he says.

Bill has also urged a collaborative approach to the Government’s new initiatives, saying businesses, unions and government agencies need to work together.

“The challenge is to bring together the many parties with a stake in our economy, to plan how to leverage the many opportunities included in this budget. That includes workforce planning, so we have the workers we need to meet the targets set by the Government, and a plan for the future of work.

“If we can do that, everyone will benefit.”

ENDS.

For more information, contact:

Bill Newson E tū National Secretary ph. 027 538 4246 

Employment relations changes “off to a flying start”

E tū, the biggest private-sector union in New Zealand, is pleased with most of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill announced by the Government today.

E tū National Secretary Bill Newson says that the process is “off to a flying start”, with many improvements for working people and their unions.

Bill says the changes recognise the pressing concerns about the personal and economic cost of low wages and inequality.

“This Government has made fixing inequality a top priority. Wages are a huge factor in this, so strengthening the rights of workers and their unions is critical,” Bill says.

“We see this bill as a big leap forward towards a fair and equitable society.”

Bill says the changes restore many of the rights that were taken away by the last Government.

“We can celebrate some big wins for all workers, such as the restoration of statutory rest and meal breaks and the restoration of reinstatement as the primary remedy to unfair dismissal.”

Bill says working people will also be in a better position thanks to strengthened collective bargaining and union rights.

“Unions will have improved access to workplaces, making unions more available to their members and prospective members. It’s also great that employers will be required to pass on information about active unions – people need to know about the best vehicle for their voice in the workplace. Paid time for union delegates to represent their colleagues will be a much-deserved recognition of the important work that union delegates carry out.

“In short, what we are seeing is the reversal of much of National’s damaging industrial relations policies, along with some exciting new initiatives.”

However, E tū is disappointed that 90-day trial periods could remain for employers with 20 or fewer workers.

“There isn’t a majority in parliament in support of scrapping the 90-day ‘fire at will’ law in its entirety, which is disappointing,” Bill says.

“This is the nature of a coalition government under MMP. It’s now our task, as part of the wider labour movement, to improve this part of the bill.

“We’ll be there at select committees to explain why any ‘fire at will’ law is both unfair and unnecessary.”

ENDS

Bill Newson will be available for media interviews this afternoon.

For more information or comment:
Bill Newson – 027 538 4246

 

Parliament’s cleaners and caterers win the Living Wage

The cleaners and caterers that keep parliament tidy and healthy are going to be paid the official Living Wage by 2020.

Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard made the announcement yesterday, to a gathering of E tū  members and Living Wage community representatives.

Mr Mallard announced that catering staff would be paid the official Living Wage (currently $20.20) from July 2019, and cleaners would follow by the beginning of 2020.

There will also be steps towards the Living Wage, with both cleaners and caterers having a pay rise of half the difference between their current rate and the Living Wage in July next year.

Jan Logie from the Green Party and Tracey Martin from NZ First spoke in support of the decision.

Parliamentary cleaner and E tū member Eseta Ailaoa also spoke at the event, explaining that the wage will allow her to do things that weren’t possible before.

“This will make a difference. I will be able to save so money for myself and my kids to go on holiday,” Eseta said.