Month: July 2023

Cleaners picket as employers refuse to offer any pay rise at all

Cleaners employed by multiple large cleaning companies will form a picket line today in Auckland as the companies have offered them nothing at all in recent negotiations. The picket will be outside a special general meeting of the Building Service Contractors of New Zealand, the employer association for cleaning companies.

E tū members have been in negotiations for the multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) for commercial cleaners seeking a pay increase to the Living Wage and other improvements to conditions, such as the provision of first-aid kits.

The employer representatives have offered nothing at all – not even the 30c above the minimum wage which has been negotiated in previous terms of the agreement.

The employer parties to the MECA are OCS, ISS, City Cleaning, PPCS, Total Property Services (TPS), Millennium, Kleenrite, Watershed, United Cleaning Services, and Westferry. These companies hold some of the biggest cleaning contracts across both the public and private sector.

“We feel that cleaning companies don’t care about the cleaners, and they don’t respect us,” says Jackie Clark, cleaner at Auckland International Airport.

“Getting no offer is stressful for us. We have whānau to feed, and rent and other bills to pay. It’s also affecting our health physically and mentally, and these cleaning companies don’t care.

“We’re doing this for all the cleaners around the country, because we deserve more.”

E tū Director Sarah Thompson says the zero-offer is a particularly stubborn position.

“Although cleaners have traditionally been paid near the minimum wage, we have usually been able to negotiate some increases above that rate in MECA bargaining,” Sarah says.

“For companies to not budge even one cent above the minimum wage is unprecedented and frankly insulting, especially during a cost-of-living crisis.”

Sarah says the employers’ position is a clear demonstration of the need for a Fair Pay Agreement in the cleaning industry.

“We’ve initiated bargaining for a Fair Pay Agreement for cleaners because our members are sick and tired of being undervalued for so long.

“When employers are committed to offering literally nothing to their own workers, the system is broken. We need to negotiate a Fair Pay Agreement that truly values the essential work of cleaners across Aotearoa, and that’s why E tū will be campaigning to re-elect a Labour-led Government which will keep this vital mechanism in place.”

E tū union news – July 2023

Cleaners’ turn to bargain for Fair Pay Agreement

E tū members working in cleaning are thrilled their hard mahi campaigning for change has been recognised, as the government gives them the green light to start bargaining for their first Fair Pay Agreement (FPA).

This will mean that no matter which cleaning company they work for, all cleaners will have the same base pay, rights and protections on the job – even if they don’t belong to a union.


It also means union members on collective agreements can keep bargaining for better terms and conditions.

Cleaner and mum of two Iunisi Fainga’anuku says an FPA is very important not just to her but to her whole whānau.

“[Because I’ll get paid more], it means I’ll be able to work fewer hours and spend more time with my kids. It will also help cleaners to get health and safety training – we work with lots of different chemicals and worry that they might be harmful to our health,” she says.

Your organising wins

Kone NZ

Members at elevator engineering company Kone have finally settled their latest collective agreement for another three-year term. The new agreement includes a pay increase of at least 14% over three years, and free union membership for new and existing members. Both can now claim to have their membership fees reimbursed. Now that’s a power lift!

Spotless hospital service workers

Spotless members working as kitchen and cleaning staff at Te Whatu Ora in the Bay of Islands, Kaitaia, Rotorua, Kenepuru, and Wellington hospitals, had a major win after they filed strike notices in June.


Spotless hadn’t signed off on their collective agreements, which were ratified by members back in March. The morning before they were due to strike, the company finally signed everything off so the members could get their pay rise. Wellington members (above) were quick to celebrate!

Photo exhibition by E tū leader celebrates 20 years of gardens

E tū National Executive member, delegate, and union leader Jason Fell recently opened his latest photo exhibition, based around the university grounds where he’s worked for more than 20 years and represented E tū members as a delegate.

The exhibition, Mā ngā Karu o he Kaitiaki māra – Custodian of the Grounds, is part of the University of Auckland’s 140-year anniversary celebrations and showcases the gardens that its horticulture team, including Jason, has carefully tended over the years at various campuses.

Mā ngā Karu o he Kaitiaki māra – Custodian of the Grounds runs at Old Government House, 24 Princes Street, Auckland, until 4 August.

New law supports health and safety reps

New Zealand now has a new law that means all workers are entitled to have an election for a health and safety representative if they ask for one. Before this, smaller, “low risk” businesses could refuse this request.

Before this, most employers with fewer than 20 workers could refuse to have workers participate in their own health and safety.

In June, the Health and Safety at Work Act was amended, delivering a big win for E tū members who campaigned for the law to be changed.

Businesses now also have a to establish a health and safety committee if a health and safety rep or five or more workers ask for one.

Read more about the law amendment HERE.


Too little sleep for cleaners on night shift, reports international survey

E tū members and cleaners around Aotearoa New Zealand were recently invited to participate in an international survey by UNI Global Union on how their work as cleaners affects their health.

Eighty-two cleaners from New Zealand responded to the survey, and 80% of those survey respondents were women.

Around 7 out of 10 cleaners who work evening or night shifts said they get too little sleep. Read the FULL REPORT HERE.

New to E tū? Meet other new members this July!

If you’re new to E tū or just want to learn more about your union, join us at a new online member meeting this month.

You can also check out your new members’ page here.

WHEN: Wednesday 19 July
TIME: 10am-11am


WHEN: Wednesday 19 July
TIME: 7pm-8pm

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