Month: March 2022

FPAs will be the best change for workers in decades

E tū is thrilled to welcome the introduction of the Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) Bill to Parliament today.

The bill will provide a regulatory foundation for setting pay and conditions across whole industries, through negotiations between employers and workers through their unions.

This will be transformational for many industries, especially those where workers employed by contractors suffer low wages and poor conditions as a result of competitive tendering.

E tū member and security guard, Rosey Ngakopu, is excited about the development.

“It’s awesome that we’re finally here, after years of campaigning,” Rosey says.

“Security guards like myself are ready for FPAs. Having minimum standards across the whole industry will be very important.

“It’s not just about pay. In our industry, guards also need FPAs to ensure we have the right conditions across the board, especially decent training and proper health and safety practices.

“We need an FPA in security, because we are worth more than the bare minimum.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary, Annie Newman, says that FPAs will provide a voice for workers who usually miss out on collective bargaining.

“Low paid workers often simply cannot negotiate fair pay and conditions, as they don’t have proper access to collective bargaining, and wages and conditions are suppressed by competitive tendering.

“Providing this foundation to protect workers from these effects is essential in building an economy that works better for everyone.

Annie says that FPAs make good business sense for firms that want to do the right thing for their workers.

“We’ve heard from employers that they would like to improve things for their workers, but they simply cannot lift wages or meaningfully improve conditions, or they will be undercut by competitors in the tendering process. This creates a race to the bottom – a race that workers lose.

“E tū will continue to work constructively with the Government on developing great FPA legislation as the bill goes through Parliament, and we’re excited about negotiating the first FPAs in Aotearoa very soon.”


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

Air New Zealand trainers set to strike over stalled pay negotiations

E tū cabin crew leaders, who fly on 787s and who are responsible for inflight crew training, have issued strike notices to Air New Zealand, in frustration and increasing anger at faltering wage talks as part of a new collective agreement.

The strike would put a ban on regulatory in-flight training of existing and returning crew, taking effect from 22 March.  

It won’t affect the travelling public, but, if it goes ahead, it will mean delays in training crew.

Members want to send a strong message to Air New Zealand that it needs to come to an agreement on paying decent wages to its workers.

On behalf of the striking aviation trainers, Sandie Bartlett, a member of the E tū negotiating team, says the decision to strike is never taken lightly, but members have run out of other options.

“We’ve been in bargaining for more than two years, and the company has so far refused to recognise that the wages for experienced cabin crew returning from redundancy are too low.

“Their start rate is only just above Minimum Wage, when crew want to see it starting from at least the Living Wage.”

The member says Air New Zealand’s focus on ultra-long-range trips to North America means the company wants crew to fly for up to 19 hours, and up to 22 hours in the case of a disruption to the scheduled flight times.

However, the crew want a fair wage to do so and clearer rules on fatigue management.

“We need reassurances our wages will go up and that our rosters won’t increase the existing fatigue problems all crew face.”

E tū’s head of aviation, Savage, who is also the advocate for the agreement, says the collective agreement for the group has been in negotiation since the end of 2019.

“Before the pandemic pay rates were so low, members were heading toward full strike action.

“However, in terms of workers’ pay, the situation still hasn’t changed. There has been no increase in the start rate since October 2018,” he says.

“We recognise that Air New Zealand is in debt and needs to trade its way back to profitability, but it also needs skilled staff. Crew can’t survive on these low rates.

“We don’t believe the company will be able to retain experienced and trained crew with the amount it has offered so far.”

Savage says at this stage cabin crew have chosen to limit their strike to the in-flight training component of their jobs to avoid major disruption to passengers.

However, there’s no doubt that a decent pay increase must be on the cards for members to consider a resolution – something that the company’s baggage handlers have already won, now their starting rates are up to almost the Living Wage.

“Cabin crew are responsible for safe operations in the air and go through extensive training to develop the experience and expertise needed to do their jobs,” Savage says.

“As essential workers, this group has also made significant sacrifices both personally and professionally to ensure that New Zealanders have had access to air travel during the pandemic.

“It’s only fair that they are provided with decent jobs with pay rates which reflect that and the high level of personal commitment they bring to their work.”


For more information and comment:
Savage, 027 590 0074

Urgent need for PPE for care and support workers

Care and support workers are in urgent need of PPE to keep their vulnerable clients safe.

These workers, some of whom visit more than 10 clients a day to care for them in their homes, say despite being essential health workers, they’re struggling to get enough PPE and supplies to work safely even in phase three of the Omicron outbreak, and their employers say they don’t have the stocks needed to make this possible.

E tū and PSA unions are calling for full PPE kits and RAT tests to be consistently supplied to care and support workers who look after vulnerable people in the community.

E tū member Tarsh Dixon says going from house to house without full PPE puts workers and clients at risk.

“In phase two, we barely had aprons – some workers had none – and only low-grade gloves and masks. We aren’t even given enough aprons to protect our clothing from the usual bodily spills and keep safe from other infections, let alone protect us from Omicron.”

Tarsh says workers are “incredibly frustrated and burnt out” by the situation.

“We work hard in the community to keep clients in their own homes and out of hospitals. These are the same hospitals that are filling up with Covid cases and are under increasing pressure.

“We need a supply of proper, full PPE and RATs, enough for a couple of weeks, couriered out to all workers so we can test at home to make sure we’re still ok to go to work.

“We’ve run out of time to keep emailing our providers and MPs, begging for full PPE to protect us.”

E tū Director Kirsty McCully says the care in the community that this group of workers provides is essential, not optional care.

“It’s things like showering and toileting, wound care, and monitoring medication – essential in making sure people get their basic needs met each day.”

She says the requirements to receive full PPE are flawed, as workers don’t have access to it when clients are isolating or when support workers notice symptoms, only once they’ve tested positive for Covid. But by then, it’s too late.

“This method of eligibility and distribution puts workers at risk because it’s simply too slow. We believe all support workers should have access to all appropriate PPE including N95s for each client at this stage of the outbreak.”

PSA assistant national secretary, Melissa Woolley asks the Ministry of Health to immediately supply workers with N95 masks, face shields, nitrile gloves, and other PPE to stop Covid-19 spreading to their clients.

“Currently, workers are caring for a mix of people with Covid-19 and those without. They need to keep themselves safe so they can continue to provide these essential services and they must ensure they are not the cause of an outbreak.

“Workers also need extra time in their rosters to safely don and doff their PPE and pick up supplies.”

Currently, workers are only provided with one week’s supply of minimal PPE – which needs to be continually reordered – with some workers being required to drive to collect it, unpaid and in their own time.

E tū and PSA have written to health ministers outlining a host of issues workers face, including slow and limited PPE rollout, not having access to full PPE and N95 masks unless a client is confirmed positive, and no reliable supply of RAT tests.

“Government direction on these matters to providers and the Ministry of Health is needed urgently,” Ms Woolley says.

“The employers in the sector have advised us of ongoing issues getting access to PPE in a timely way. Their requests are not fully filled which leaves workers at risk or client care cancelled.” 


For more information and comment:
Kirsty McCully, 027 204 6354