Month: April 2023

Union’s Just Transition aim for members affected by potential Webstar closure

A “Just Transition” is the aim for E tū members working at Webstar Masterton who will lose their jobs if the plant shuts next year.

On Wednesday, Webstar, which is part of the Blue Star Print Group, announced its proposal to close its Masterston plant in early 2024.

More than 20 E tū members will be affected if the proposal goes ahead. The consultation period runs until Tuesday.

E tū Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher says members are “shocked but not surprised”.

“Webstar’s closure proposal is a symptom of the wider decline in print advertising and the rising costs around power, freight, and paper.”

Joe says E tū will be working hard to support members and making sure a Just Transition plan is put in place.

“A Just Transition plan would ideally see a range of support available to assist members as they prepare to move on.

“It would ease some of the stress of finding another job or moving into study to upskill for other types of work.”

Just Transition is the idea that workers should not bear the brunt of changes in the labour market, such as those in response to technological and climate change.

Cleaners second group of E tū members to initiate Fair Pay Agreement

Cleaners are the latest group of workers from E tū to initiate for their Fair Pay Agreement.

Since the Fair Pay Agreements Bill was passed in October 2022, more than 1000 cleaners across Aotearoa New Zealand have put their signature forward in support of a Fair Pay Agreement.

E tū, the largest private sector union in the country, will send the initiation document on their behalf to the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) on Tuesday.

A Fair Pay Agreement sets minimum pay and conditions for workers across whole industries or occupations by way of bargaining between unions and employer representatives.

So far E tū members in both security and cleaning have initiated for a Fair Pay Agreement.

An E tū leader and cleaner Iunisi Fainga’anuku says the day brings lots of emotion.

“I’m overjoyed and emotional. It’s like a dream come true. Fair Pay Agreements are very important, not just to me but to my whole family, because it means I’ll be able to work fewer hours and get more time to spend with my kids.

“It will also help cleaners to get health and safety training. We work with lots of different chemicals, and we worry that they might be harmful to our health.”

Assistant National Secretary at E tū Annie Newman says a Fair Pay Agreement for workers in the cleaning industry is a huge achievement, as it will help to fix a number of issues.

“Pay is one of the number one issues for cleaners, as many work two or three jobs to get by. The first thing that a Fair Pay Agreement will address is securing base rates of pay for cleaners, no matter which employer they work for.

“This will really help to prevent employers from undercutting each other to win work contracts, which usually sees workers’ wages lowered to make the company more competitive.

“It will also mean workers’ pay rates won’t be affected if they transfer to a new cleaning company when a cleaning contract changes hands.”

Annie says members in cleaning often want more training and development, so they can see a career pathway in the industry with progressive pay rates and opportunities.

“Cleaning is an essential job and cleaners are essential workers. As we have seen through the pandemic, workers everywhere deserve respect, recognition, and dignity, and Fair Pay Agreements are a way of achieving that.”

New Living Wage rate a celebration for workers and their communities

E tū is celebrating the announcement of the new Living Wage rate and the positive difference that it will make to workers’ lives and to those of their whānau.

On Monday, the new Living Wage rate of $26 was announced for 2023/24, which represents an increase of almost 10% on the previous rate after its five-yearly review.

The rate change will take effect from 1 September.

Auckland City Council cleaner and E tū member Menbere Woldemeske says she is so excited to hear the news.

“This is going to help my family a lot to pay the rent, electricity, and grocery shopping, as the cost of living is so high now.  

“It also means I can help my community and the church that have always been supporting us. Then, send some money home to support my elderly parents.”

Annie Newman, an E tū Assistant National Secretary, says the new Living Wage rate is a much-needed step forward for workers and their families, particularly with the current cost of living.

“This current rate increase means low-paid workers will be more able to live with dignity and participate in their communities, without having to work constantly to make ends meet.

“We also know that when workers are not living in financially precarious situations all the time, they are more able to support their children and their families as they can spend time with them and can better afford what they need to live and be active in society.

“The Living Wage is not just about lifting individual workers out of poverty. It’s about lifting the wellbeing of entire communities.”