Month: November 2021

Lack of PPE puts workers at risk of infection and disease

Today’s announcement about Covid care in the community means that New Zealanders need to be confident that community support workers, who will increasingly be coming into contact with Covid positive people, have the PPE they need including N95 masks, aprons, gloves, and all other adequate PPE for covid infection prevention.

PSA and E tū are the unions for thousands of care and support workers who provide essential health support to people in their own homes.

These care workers are at risk because the gloves being provided to them to deliver personal care are breaking, exposing workers to bodily fluids and putting them at risk of infection and disease.

Southland care and support worker, Samantha says, “It’s not acceptable that we have to wear food grade gloves. Food grade gloves don’t protect us from anything – they roll down our wrists and they break at the fingertips. Sometimes I wear two pairs but even then there’s no guarantee that will protect us from faeces and bodily fluids.”

“You would never see a healthcare worker in a hospital or GP practice wearing food gloves – it’s totally unthinkable. So why does the Ministry of Health think it’s ok for us?”

“Care and support workers are in every community in New Zealand and we are not being protected from Covid or anything else. We need the appropriate PPE, now!”

Another support worker, from Northland, agrees. “We go from home to home providing essential care and support services to vulnerable clients, but the work we do is often misunderstood, and we are treated as the second-class citizens of the health system, when the system couldn’t work without us.”

A care and support worker, who doesn’t want to be named, says the gloves are not appropriate or acceptable for using when caring for clients. “They tear or rip and do not come up far enough on the wrist, which means we get water in them.

“Personal cares with my clients are difficult enough, without constantly having to worry about my own safety when bodily fluids get into my gloves. This is a serious health and safety issue.”

“Like every other support worker, I hope that the providers of these gloves are informed and brought up to speed with the differences between food grade gloves and medical grade gloves – we’re not making sandwiches.”

E tū health director Kirsty McCully says that despite raising the matter with their employers, the Ministry of Health and chief nurse, workers are being told the gloves are safe.

“This simply isn’t their experience. Home support workers put themselves at risk to care for the most vulnerable in our communities at home. That risk increases with Covid circulating in the community too.”

Kirsty says workers need to be listened to: “The health risks they face become risks to everyone eventually, if not managed properly.”

PSA national sector lead Jocelyn Pratt says, “It is shameful that the Ministry of Health is not following its own health and safety guidelines and putting these workers and clients at risk.”

“The gloves used for serving food at a school fundraiser are not the same as the gloves needed when you are providing intimate care for a vulnerable client.”

Jocelyn says these frontline essential workers should be treated with dignity, “This work force is publicly funded but the basic health and safety protections are not being provided to them.”

ENDS

For more information contact:

Liz Robinson | Communications, PSA  [email protected], 027 281 6173

Amy Baker | Communications, E tū [email protected], 022 269 1170

Uber’s NZ tax gap estimated on heels of global taxation reform

Following a meeting of world leaders to finalise global rules on multinational tax avoidance, an alliance of groups has estimated that, in New Zealand alone, Uber avoided $6.4 to $12.8 million in corporate tax in the year 2020. 

The report from the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR), FIRST Union and E tū highlights how Uber employs a network of more than 50 Dutch shell companies and uses other tax havens, including Bermuda, Delaware and Singapore to shelter it from paying billions in tax across its global operations. 

“New Zealanders should be concerned about how multinationals like Uber, that rely so heavily on investments in public infrastructure like roads and hospitals, are blatantly shirking their tax obligations,” said CICTAR Principal Analyst Jason Ward. 

“Uber’s estimated tax gap of $6.4 to 12.8 million in 2020 is money that could have been spent staffing hospital wards or training apprentices. Instead, it was squirreled away in Uber’s billion-dollar Dutch tax shelter, which if unchallenged will allow the company to avoid billions in corporate tax as its operations continue to expand.” 

FIRST Union Strategic Project Coordinator Anita Rosentreter said the report highlights the dangerous impact of gig economy firms. 

“Uber’s business combines an exploitative labour model that robs workers of their rights with a global tax structure that robs the public purse of the tax revenue we all rely on to keep our society thriving,” said Rosentreter.  

E tū Director Kirsty McCully warned that if left unchallenged, the expansion of the gig economy would lead to even more workers losing out. 

“More and more app-based multinationals are popping up in Aotearoa and they all look to Uber to see what they can get away with,” said McCully. “We mustn’t let these corporations continue to short-change our country and get away with avoiding their responsibilities – whether to our country or to their workforce.” 

E tū and FIRST Union are taking legal action against Uber, seeking a declaration from the Employment Court that Uber’s workforce are employees rather than independent contractors.  

“This is a matter of principle and it is important to workers everywhere – a massive global corporation like Uber should not get away profiting by denying workers their rights,” said Rosentreter. 

“Businesses operating in New Zealand, as a minimum, must pay tax and respect our laws, like everyone else.” 

The report comes as 137 OECD/G20 countries and jurisdictions this month finalised the Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, aiming to reform international taxation rules and ensure that multinational enterprises pay a fair share of tax wherever they operate. 

The report has been delivered to Ministers David Parker (Revenue), Stuart Nash (Economic Development) and Michael Wood (Workplace Relations). 

The full report can be found here

ENDS 

For more information, contact: 

Jason Ward | Principal Analyst, Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR) 

Email: [email protected] 
Mobile: +61 (0)488 190 457 

Anita Rosentreter | Strategic Project Coordinator – Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing, FIRST Union 

Email: [email protected] 
Mobile: +64 (0)21 626 094 

Kirsty McCully | Director – Member Led Organising, E tū 

Email: [email protected]  
Mobile: +64 (0)27 204 6354 

Labour keeps their Living Wage promise

E tū is thrilled that the Labour Government have kept their word on their election commitment to ensure cleaners, security guards, and caterers employed by contractors in the public service will be paid at least the Living Wage.

From 1 December, contracts procured by Government for those services will require the contractors to pay at least the Living Wage rate ($22.75).

Wages must also go up annually, in line with the New Zealand Labour Cost Index (LCI).

E tū Assistant National Secretary, Annie Newman, says that the Living Wage is an important part of the Government’s wider programme to improve Aotearoa.

“The Government is demonstrating their commitment to social procurement, which E tū has been campaigning for,” Annie says.

“As both a direct and indirect employer of so many workers in Aotearoa, they have a responsibility to make sure that procurement decisions are made with the wider social impacts considered.

“It’s obvious that this is the right way forward – low wages and poverty create and exacerbate so many of the biggest challenges the Government faces.

“Getting more money into the pockets of the families that need it most is a no-brainer,” she says.

Annie adds that guaranteeing increases in line with the LCI is particularly encouraging.

“As the cost of living continuously rises, so must wages. A one-off pay increase is great, but pegging it to wage growth makes it more sustainable.

Annie says that the next big step the Government can take for low paid workers is to implement good Fair Pay Agreement legislation.

“Wages are just one part of the picture. Workers deserve better minimums across all sorts of areas, including training, meaningful contribution to workplace decision making, and health and safety.

“We are looking forward to the Government bringing their Fair Pay Agreement bill to its First Reading so that E tū members can let them know just how transformative this new system will be.”

ENDS

For more info and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340