E tū is advocating for a ‘Just Transition’ for more than 700 postal workers in the wake of a major redundancy proposal.
On Tuesday, New Zealand Post announced plans to reduce its mail processing and delivery operations in Auckland and Christchurch over the next five years.
The proposal affects around 750 workers.
E tū has signed a Just Transition agreement with the company to support and guide E tū members in their transition to new work.
Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher says while the proposal is not unexpected in the face of declining global mail rates, a Just Transition is about making sure there is more than “one tool in the toolbox” to assist members.
“A Just Transition process is about workers being treated with fairness, equity, and transparency, so they can focus on things like transferring their skills to other kinds of work, or retraining and upskilling as they explore different options for their futures,” he says.
“E tū strongly supports its members as they go through this difficult time, and we will be advocating for workers to have the best opportunities possible to assist them through the transition period.”
The union also ran a Just Transition process to support New Zealand Post members in Manawatū who lost their jobs when their mail processing centre closed in March.
E tū, the biggest private sector union in Aotearoa New Zealand, is shocked by the ACT Party’s new policy to stop workers being able to correct their employment status.
The policy, announced today, would mean that contracted workers would not be able to challenge their status in the Employment Court, even when the real nature of their employment relationship meant they should be entitled to the rights and protections employees get.
E tū Assistant National Secretary, Annie Newman, says this would be a huge setback for the workforce.
“We already know that employers use contracts instead of employment agreements unfairly – that’s why we have taken cases to court, and won,” Annie says.
“In 2017, labour hire workers at LSG Sky Chefs proved they were entitled to the benefits and protections of a normal employment relationship. Last year, Uber drivers proved in court that the company is really their employer, and they also deserve the rights of employees.
“While these court cases have been victories for the workers who have taken them, they have also shown the need for employment relations reform that better reflects the changing world of work.
“Instead, the ACT Party are proposing the opposite – locking workers into these exploitative arrangements without any recourse. It’s a terrible position that will bed in the worst outcomes for many people.”
Annie says this is just the latest policy from the Opposition that demonstrates their hostility to working people.
“ACT have also promised to end Fair Pay Agreements and bring back 90-day trials. They have opposed every increase to the minimum wage, opposed doubling sick leave, and even oppose moves to make wage theft a criminal offence.
“These are disastrous positions that will worsen poverty and inequality. Working people in Aotearoa have a lot at stake this election – we must stop politicians from actively pushing us down.”
Our E tū team has been in bargaining on your behalf for your collective agreement, to try and get better pay and conditions for cleaners across Aotearoa New Zealand. Last week the companies told us they are offering us nothing – no pay rise, no better conditions, just nothing.
That’s not good enough.
We are holding meetings over this week and next to discuss our path forward. As E tū members, we know that we don’t win anything without fighting for it, and we will be working together to pressure the cleaning employers into improving their offer.
Our next steps
We will be working on different ways to make progress on our agreement. The E tū cleaners on our bargaining team are extremely disappointed and we have been talking about all options, including things we can do on site, media opportunities, and the possibility of taking further action. Keep an eye out for more info from your union organiser and delegates as this progresses, so you can have your say.
In the meantime, as usual, the best thing to do is encourage all your workmates to join E tū. They can visit www.etu.nz/join to get started today!
Stay tuned for Fair Pay Agreements news
The good news is that we’re nearly ready to start negotiating our Fair Pay Agreement, which will give us a much better opportunity to win much more meaningful increases to cleaners’ pay and conditions. We’ll be sending you more information about this very soon!
Cleaners across Aotearoa New Zealand are getting a huge opportunity for real improvements to their pay and conditions, with the Chief Executive of MBIE approving the initiation of a Fair Pay Agreement for cleaners.
The news couldn’t have come any sooner. E tū and large cleaning companies involved in a multi-employer collective agreement for commercial cleaners are in negotiations today with much at stake for these low paid workers.
Historic underpayment of cleaners has meant cleaning companies compete for contracts, which drives down pay and conditions – the exact problem the Fair Pay Agreements Act 2022 was passed to address.
E tū member and cleaner, Mele Peaua, who is part of the union’s commercial cleaners negotiating team, says years of inadequate results from bargaining are a clear demonstration of the need for a good Fair Pay Agreement to cover cleaners.
“A Fair Pay Agreement will be ground-breaking for low wage cleaners like us. It will give collective bargaining power to many cleaners who currently have no access to it,” Mele says.
“Normal collective bargaining just isn’t working for cleaners. We have a wonderful opportunity right now to win a good Fair Pay Agreement and reduce inequality and poverty in our communities.”
E tū Transformational Campaigns Director Sarah Thompson agrees.
“The contracting model creates a ‘race to the bottom’ where labour costs are the significant factor in competitive tendering,” Sarah says.
“Having our multi-employer collective agreement has meant negotiating some marginal improvements for cleaners over the years, but it doesn’t stop non-union employers from undercutting companies who might otherwise be open to paying reasonable wages.
“It’s a particular problem in the cleaning industry, and also in security, where E tū has also been approved to negotiate a Fair Pay Agreement.”
Sarah says that all workers should see the value of Fair Pay Agreements and vote for political parties who support them.
“There is currently a huge political focus on the cost of living. Just as we are finally starting to fix these systemic issues through Fair Pay Agreements, the Opposition has promised to tear them up. That’s just appalling, and we need to make sure as a country that we don’t let that happen.”
“Perfect,” “wonderful,” “grateful,” and “awesome,” are just some of the words that Te Whatu Ora members are using to describe how they feel after organising to win for a special shoe voucher, which means they can pick out their own work shoes.
For those working as orderlies and cleaners at the hospital, the change has put a smile on everyone’s faces, an E tū delegate Barbara says.
Members working in these services roles at Te Whatu Ora Counties Manukau and Waitematā were previously provided with a pair of shoes by Te Whatu Ora – even though there was a clause in their collective agreement around having a shoe voucher so they could go out and buy their own.
So, when it came to light that many members were resorting to buying their own shoes as they were so uncomfortable, Te Whatu Ora delegates organised a survey to see how widespread the problem was.
After 150 responses to their shoe survey, it became clear that the issue was urgent, and management acted quickly.
Now members have the choice of between five and nine different shoe styles and pay for them using a voucher. They also have the option of spending the remainder of the voucher on socks if there’s anything left over.
Barbara says, “Members are really rapt. It’s put a smile on everyone’s faces – they really appreciate what they’ve got, which is so much better than before.
“Workers do beat the feet a lot during their shifts, especially the orderlies. They’re grateful for the work that’s been done by the union and across the board.”
Government gives green light for security guards’ FPA
“Like a dream come true” is how security guard and E tū FPA campaigner Rosey Ngakopu described the moment she heard that security guards across Aotearoa New Zealand will now be able to start bargaining for their first-ever Fair Pay Agreement (FPA).
At the end of May, the Government gave the green light to members’ application to negotiate an FPA for security guards
afterthousands of workers signed on to initiate it. This is huge for E tū members who have campaigned for years to get FPAs into law and will now be able to bargain with an employer representative to put down minimum standards and conditions for all security guards. CLICK HERE to see our members’ FPA journey from start to finish.
E tū members put hard questions to MPs
Ka pai to our members in Auckland and Wellington who put important questions about their industry issues to our Government at the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) Government Forum, where workers and ministers came together for an evening of kōrero and workshops last week.
Members asked ministers about a range of vital issues, including pay equity, the cost of living, Just Transition, and the Living Wage in the public sector – a unique opportunity to talk directly to ministers about what matters.
The forum also highlighted the importance of voting at this year’s General Election, in order to keep the gains we’ve won – like Fair Pay Agreements and to get our equal pay settlement for care and support workers finalised. Check out some of our snaps from the night HERE.
Your organising wins
In March, Visy Glass members settled their latest collective agreement, after almost a year of bargaining. Bargaining at Visy Glass is done by the delegate team, with the support of a union organiser.
By negotiating this way, it means everyone around the table has a better understanding of what’s going on and the jobs that members do, says delegate Gerard Peters. “Even though it might be a bit scary, because you’re talking to management and you have to work with them day in and day out, you get to know each other better.”
Te Whatu Ora service workers
Since mid-May, Te Whatu Ora members working as orderlies and cleaners at Counties Manukau and Waitematā now have access to shoe vouchers, so they can buy their own shoes and choose from a bigger range than was previously supplied.
This win comes after a huge organising effort by delegates, including a survey.
More than 700 delegates around the country came together for 25 Delegate Forums over the last couple of months.
Alongside our campaigns for a Just Transition and equal pay, a big focus for the forums was the union wins at stake in the General Election on October 23, such as Fair Pay Agreements law.
If you haven’t yet pledged to vote in this year’s election, take the pledge now! We’ve also got posters you can put up in your workplaces to get the word out about how important it is to make your voice heard. If you’d like posters for your workplace, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get some out to you.
NZ Steel Mill moving on climate
E tū delegates are calling for a Just Transition at New Zealand Steel. In the first plan of its kind, the Government is contributing up to $140 million to the company’s mill in Glenbrook so it can purchase an electric furnace and make 50% of its steel from recycling scrap.
Estimated to reduce carbon emissions by the same amount as taking all the passenger cars in Christchurch off the road, E tū delegate Lester Udy says the move signals “exciting times” ahead for industry.
However, both Lester and E tū are clear that any changes to workers’ jobs means that they’ll need a Just Transition, a chance to up skill or transition without losing pay or conditions. CLICK HERE to read more.
Keen to serve on our union’s National Executive? Now is your chance!
The following E tū National Executive positions are open for nomination:
North Island Vice President
South Island Vice President
Northern Regional Representative
Central Regional Representative
Southern Regional Representative
The Southern Region is the whole of the South Island (plus Stewart and Chatham Islands). The Central Region includes Wellington, Wairarapa, Horowhenua, Manawatu, Whanganui, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Tai Rawhiti/East Coast. The Northern Region includes Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.
To be eligible for one of these positions, you must live in the region and need to have been a financial member of E tū continuously for at least 12 months immediately before being nominated. Nominations must be moved and seconded by financial members, and would-be candidates must state that they wish to be nominated for the position.
All nominations must be received by the Returning Officer, Christopher Gordon (email@example.com), by 5pm, Friday 30 June 2023, along with a short bio of the person being nominated.
If there is more than one candidate for any position, an election will be held at the E tū Biennial Membership Meetings in September.