Cleaners at Auckland Airport will be stopping work today and going on strike, after their employer OCS has offered zero increase in recent negotiations.
The workers will strike in groups and will be on a picket line at the Auckland Domestic Terminal (Air New Zealand side) from 1:30pm until 2:30pm.
OCS is one of the parties to the multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) for commercial cleaners, which also includes 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.
While the MECA has been settled with some margin above the minimum wage in previous years, this time the employers aren’t budging.
Jacqueline Davis, an airport cleaner who will be going on strike today, says the zero offer shows the companies don’t care about their workers.
“Personally, I think they just don’t give a damn about us. We’re nothing in their eyes, we’re just the little cleaners,” Jacqueline says.
“OCS and all the other companies need to treat us with respect. If it wasn’t for us cleaners, the airport would be a hell of a mess. They need to treat us like people, we are sick of being treated like doormats.”
E tū has been campaigning for the Living Wage for cleaners. Jacqueline says getting the Living Wage would be a huge help, including for her health.
“Right now, if I get sick, I can’t afford to take the day off or go to the doctor. I had to use up all my sick leave after an accident, so I simply have no choice.
“Getting a decent wage would mean not having to worry about finding the money for a simple day off and a doctor’s visit.”
E tū Director, Sarah Thompson, says OCS and the other cleaning companies need to step up.
“This is such a harsh position from the employer group,” Sarah says.
“It shows that they just don’t value the essential work of cleaners like Jacqueline and thousands of others.”
Sarah says it’s a clear demonstration of why cleaners need a Fair Pay Agreement.
“Right now, we’re getting ready to bargain the very first Fair Pay Agreement for the cleaning industry, which will be the best opportunity in decades to really improve things for this essential workforce.
“The National and ACT parties have promised to scrap Fair Pay Agreements before they even get started. It’s another slap in the face to working people like Jacqueline, and we can’t let that happen.”
E tū, the biggest private sector union in Aotearoa New Zealand, is hugely disappointed with the National Party’s policy to implement a tax regime that benefits the wealthy while leaving many others no better off.
The plan, released today, includes an adjustment of tax brackets, reinstating interest deductibility for landlords, removing the Government’s recent public transport subsidies, ending the foreign buyer ban on homes worth over $2 million, and cancelling other government projects.
“This is a deeply misleading policy, because it doesn’t factor in everything National will take away from working families,” says E tū Director, Sarah Thompson.
“Their policy says that average families will be ‘better off’ because of their FamilyBoost policy, but they have not factored in the extra costs on families resulting from the removal of Labour’s ECE funding extension.
“Their numbers also don’t reflect that families will be paying more for public transport under their plan, nor does it include the congestion charges they are planning to implement as part of their transport policy.
“Families who rely on public transport or the extra ECE funding will not be nearly as well off as National claim. They’ll also be paying extra costs when National bring back prescription fees. It’s all smoke and mirrors.”
Sarah says landlords like Christopher Luxon are the real winners from this policy, with $2.3 billion going to them over four years.
“Christopher Luxon does not need to pocket more money. He is on the record saying he doesn’t even know how much his seven properties are worth – he’s doing extremely well.
“That money should be going to increasing essential services, building core infrastructure, supporting those who need it most, and investing in the future of Aotearoa. Instead, he’s going to give billions to himself and his rich mates.”
Sarah says that with lower- and middle-income New Zealanders doing it tough during the cost-of-living crisis, the money should be targeted based on real need.
“It’s galling to hear Luxon describe this as a cost-of-living policy when so much goes to the richest people.
Sarah says today’s announcement is another example that the National Party are going into the election with an anti-worker agenda.
“This is just the latest indicator that National doesn’t really care about working people. Yesterday, they re-committed to extending 90-day trials, despite the evidence clearly showing they don’t work. They will also scrap Fair Pay Agreements, robbing low paid workers of their best opportunity in decades to make real gains.”
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This issue, we feature a spotlight on the aviation industry (a new magazine feature!), updates on our important campaigns, a report from our Delegate Forums, an article by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, and much more.
At the end of July, E tū members working as cleaners for major cleaning companies currently bargaining for a new MECA (multi-employer collective agreement) took action after a zero offer pay rise.
Their employers – OCS, ISS, City Cleaning, PPCS, Total Property Services (TPS), Millennium, Kleenrite, Watershed, United Cleaning Services, and Westferry – refused to give workers a single cent over the minimum wage, even though in past MECAs they have paid 30 cents above this.
Auckland Airport cleaner Jackie Clark says getting no offer is stressful and workers don’t feel respected. “We have whānau to feed, rent and other bills to pay. It’s also affecting our health physically and mentally, and these cleaning companies don’t care.”
The zero-offer shows is exactly why cleaners need a Fair Pay Agreement – to stop the race to the bottom on wages. With E tū initiating Fair Pay Agreements for both cleaners and security workers, we are on track to finally be able to negotiate for what we know these essential workers really deserve!
Keep an eye out on social media for upcoming action and how you can support.
From the picket line to third collective!
Lifewise members have a new collective agreement. Ratified last week, members will now be able to take a defensive driving course and first aid courses for free. They also won the right to long service after 15 and 20 years, a $500 Pak’n’Save voucher, and a special fund to assist members taking bereavement leave has been doubled.
Delegate Maggie Greig says it’s a good outcome. “It feels really good that we’ve got the ball rolling and the momentum of improving our work conditions. It’s awesome, and it’s makes it better for the new staff coming on too. With every new collective, we’re gradually improving lives for Lifewise members.”
It shows how far Lifewise have come since members needed to take strike action in 2021/22 to win their first ever collective agreement.
Solid pay rises for packaging workers
Members at Oji Packaging at six sites around the country got a great deal for their next three-year collective agreement, winning a pay increase of 7.5% and then 5% per year after that for the term of the agreement.
Delegate Barry Jackson from Christchurch says, “it’s probably the biggest offer we’ve had in most people’s memories, and everyone was really happy.”
E tū Election campaign kicks off
We want members and workers to keep the gains that we’ve all fought so hard for – legislation like Fair Pay Agreements, 10 days’ sick leave, and decent minimum wage increases.
This General Election, we’ll be campaigning hard for a Labour-led government and we need your support.
As most members will already be aware, E tū’s National Secretary, Bill Newson, is stepping down from his position in late November.
From then until the next Biennial Conference (where you’ll officially elect a new National Secretary), the E tū National Executive has officially endorsed E tū Co-Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh to take over Bill’s role.
New to E tū?
If you’re new to the union and would like to meet other new members and learn more about how E tū can support you, come to our next online new member meeting.
Click on the link of your preferred time below to register.
E tū, the biggest private sector union in Aotearoa New Zealand, is deeply concerned about the prospect of a National-led Government’s ability to fund essential services and infrastructure, after figures released today show their policies create a large fiscal shortfall.
The figures have been released by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, using all the information the National Party have published about their own policy costings to date, as well as data from Treasury and the Reserve Bank. It reveals a shortfall of $3.3bn to $5.2bn, numbers which do not even include major spending promises that remain uncosted by National.
E tū Assistant National Secretary, Rachel Mackintosh, says the National Party must front up now about how they would pay for their election policies.
“National’s promises are expensive, and the party simply cannot make it work without new revenue or significant cuts,” Rachel says.
“The Council of Trade Unions have had to carry out this work because National are still not being upfront with the public about their financial plan. It should really be National’s own responsibility to explain to the voting public how they are going to balance the books. The closer we get to Election Day, the more worrying it is that the National Party can’t present a credible explanation for how they’ll pay for their promises.”
Rachel notes that other parties have been able to present their numbers – Labour through Budget 2023, and the Greens and ACT with their published alternative budgets.
“With National not even able to make their own announced policies stack up financially, we are deeply worried about what this would mean for continued funding of key services. The money must come from somewhere, and so adequately funding things like health and education is at serious risk.”
E tū Co-President, Muriel Tunoho, has worked in community health for decades. She is particularly concerned about what the budget hole would mean for health funding.
“National underfunding the health system is a tale as old as time,” Muriel says.
“People working in the community health spaces are particularly worried because we’ve been forgotten about before. While we have made some gains under Labour, there is still so much more we need to make the health system work for everyone, especially our most marginalised communities.
“Not funding health properly means real hardship for families in Aotearoa. Both the workers and the service users suffer. I have seen poor health outcomes result in all sorts of huge challenges for whānau, it’s heartbreaking.
“E tū members in health need pay equity, safer staffing, and many more improvements. These things require a proper boost to health funding, which we have been campaigning for. Seeing that National can’t even fund their headline election policies is a clear sign that community health would be neglected again.
“Quite simply, National need to turn their policy programme around so that it helps everyone, not just the wealthy few. Now is not the time for tax cuts for the most well-off. It’s the time for serious investment in the communities of Aotearoa.”