Month: January 2024

E tū takes major cleaning companies to Employment Relations Authority

E tū, the union for cleaners in Aotearoa New Zealand, has filed an application for fixing with the Employment Relations Authority, after the companies party to the Commercial Cleaners Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA) have refused to budge, offering their workers no improvements to pay and conditions.

An application for fixing means the union is asking the Employment Relations Authority to determine the terms and conditions of the MECA, as a result of the employer parties breaching good faith provisions, leading to a breakdown in negotiations.

E tū initiated for bargaining in February last year. Since then, the employers party to the MECA have offered no pay increase above the minimum wage and no improvement to terms and conditions such as health and safety protections. They have used both the Fair Pay Agreements process and potential future increases to the minimum wage as excuses not to negotiate constructively with the union and employees.

E tū delegate and cleaner, Mele Peaua, says: “Most of the cleaners are on the minimum wage. We all know how much of a struggle that is for workers.

“I was part of the bargaining team, and we were not happy that the companies didn’t want to bargain for a better deal for cleaners. All we want is to improve wages and get better conditions, beyond the minimum.”

E tū National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says the companies have been particularly difficult in this bargaining round.

“It’s unprecedented, and frankly quite unbelievable, that the companies are still taking this hardline position of a zero-offer beyond minimum wage,” Rachel says.

“These companies hold some of the biggest cleaning contracts in the country, in both the public and private sectors. The cleaners often work long and unsociable hours, doing the essential job of keeping workplaces and public spaces clean and healthy.

“It wasn’t long ago that cleaners were being celebrated by all of Aotearoa as part of the essential workforce that kept us going during Covid-19 disruptions. The companies need to show they respect and value their employees, instead they are demonstrating the complete opposite.”

Government must keep Living Wage for Parliament cleaners

E tū, the union covering cleaners including at Parliament, is urging the National-led Government to ensure Parliament’s cleaners continue to receive at least the Living Wage, with the news today that Parliamentary Services is required to make budget cuts.

The cleaners are employed by OCS Limited, a large commercial cleaning company who are required to pay their workers at Parliament at least the Living Wage rate as part of their contract with Parliamentary Services.

The Living Wage was won by Parliament’s cleaners under the previous Government, honouring a commitment made by the Labour Party in the 2017 election campaign.

A cleaner at Parliament, who wishes to speak anonymously, says the Living Wage has been life changing.

“Getting the Living Wage makes a big difference to all of us,” they say.

“Our pay was just too low before, but I’ve been really happy with the raise. I can afford stuff for the kids and grandkids. With petrol money, car parking fees, and all costs going up, we need as much as we can get.”

The cleaner calls on the Prime Minister to step up for the cleaners at his workplace.

“He comes over to us and tells us we are doing a great job. Then they all go home to sleep, and we keep cleaning. We look after them, they need to look after us.”

E tū National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says the Government must continue the work of the previous Government in maintaining and expanding the Living Wage in the public service.

“Service workers like cleaners and security guards were stuck on poverty wages for far too long,” Rachel says.

“There has been good progress for many over the last six years, with paying the Living Wage becoming a condition of procurement across different areas of the public service. The Government must keep this up.

“With the significant cuts the National-led Government is proposing across public sector spending, there is a real risk that the wages of workers employed by contractors could be on the chopping block. This is the same Government that wasted no time scrapping Fair Pay Agreements, which would have been the best chance in decades for these workers to get decent pay and conditions.

“The Government must commit to retaining the Living Wage, firstly for the cleaners at their very own workplace, but also for everyone who delivers these essential services across the public sector.”