Article Category: April 2018

E tūtu: union welcomes Royal NZ Ballet

Meet the delegates team at the Royal New Zealand Ballet, which we are delighted to welcome to the ever-growing fold of E tū. Most of the dancers and support staff officially joined early in March.

The company used to have its own union, but as it increased in size, the Secretary advised members to seek a more arms-length union.

“We were kind of at a plateau a bit with our own union so we thought we needed someone who’ll have a bigger voice for us,” says dancer and delegate Katie Hurst-Saxton.

The delegates are hoping for a close working relationship with the Ballet’s board and management: “more input, more communication and more trust,” says delegate and office administrator, Nigel Boyes.

E tū also represents the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, with which the ballet works closely, so that was also a good fit. The union has been working to forge closer ties between the orchestra and Australian performing arts networks and hopes to provide similar opportunities for the ballet.

E tū organising

Members face Fletchers’ fallout

Members at Fletcher Construction will soon be job-hunting after the company’s near-billion dollar loss and its decision to mothball its Building and Interiors division once all current projects are finished.

E tū has many members at Fletchers, but few in this division, which is a symptom of what’s gone wrong. “At one big project, the only Fletchers’ guys on site are managers. The rest are all subcontractors,” says one member.

“Usually there’s a fixed budget and there’s where we lose our money – they only price for half the job.”

E tu’s view is the industry is overly dependent on subcontractors, which has helped drive up costs.

Our member, who won’t be named because he will soon be job hunting, says a key concern is subcontractors don’t fully price work. Instead, they take “the cream of the work, but fail to complete awkward stuff they can’t make money on.

“You’ve got a fixed budget and there’s where we lose money – they only price for half the job. We come in at the end to fix everything up after they’ve walked away,” he says, which blows out the budget.

In the case of the Justice Precinct in Christchurch, our members say much of it was built twice; once with mistakes and a second time to correct them.

E tū wants firms to hire more permanent workers, provide secure jobs and train apprentices, including locals and qualifying migrants, which would help resolve major skills shortages.

Instead, worksites typically involve an army of subbies, labour hire workers and in some cases, undocumented migrant labour sourced illegally.

Our migrant members say it is now hard to find stable jobs with wages high enough to qualify for residency.

“We came here going through the right process and pay all the fees and hope one day we can get our family to settle,” says one member from a labour hire company. “But with this kind of situation how do we win?”

Planning begins for Metals meetings

Planning is underway ahead of mass meetings for members covered by the Metal and Manufacturing Collective Agreement, known as “the Metals.”

The current document expires on 30 June with the meetings scheduled in May.

The agreement, which is a Multi Employer Collective Agreement, or MECA, covers more than 600 workers at over 80 companies and is the country’s leading manufacturing agreement.

Members meet in 2016 to discuss claims for the Metals agreement. Meetings this year are in the planning stages.

“Employers like it because it’s a minimum wage document – it means they can pay the minimum rate,” says delegate Ken Wilkins of Piersons in Christchurch who has been on the bargaining team since 2005.

Ken says it also keeps a floor under wages and conditions, and of course, many employers pay more. Ken says he also expects rates will rise in the wake of the lift in the minimum wage on 1 April.

Recruitment surges at Sistema

This year we’ve hit the ground running with our campaign at Sistema. Our delegate numbers have grown from 4 to twelve delegates, and membership continues to grow despite high staff turnover.

“I never thought about becoming a delegate,” says new delegate, Sesilia Williams, “but because my colleagues asked me to step up, I said “why not”? I want to support them with their issues and motivate them to get involved in making our workplace better.”

Helping drive membership growth are health and safety issues at the plant. This includes heat caused by the plastics’ manufacturing process and made worse by a sizzling summer. One member who is heavily pregnant almost fainted at work because of it.

That galvanised hundreds of workers to sign a petition demanding management take urgent action. Delegates presented this to management when they raised several other issues.

Meanwhile, this increased activity has made people more confident about joining the union. Before, they were nervous; now they come up and ask to join.

Sistema delegates, Luke Sanglap and Sesilia Williams

As the campaign grows, Sistema workers will be looking to the wider community for support. Delegates have already started mapping links between their colleagues and the wider community, for instance churches and rugby clubs.

The number one priority at the moment is to grow the union on the site in numbers and leaders. As the delegates grow more confident, and start winning victories that becomes easier.

Back pay sought in LSG Skychefs case

LSG Skychefs is seeking leave to appeal a court decision which found two of its long-term labour hire workers should be considered direct employees of the global airline catering company.

The two members, Kamlesh Prasad and Liutofaga Tulai, worked for LSG Skychefs for years, but because they were labour hire workers they were paid less than directly employed workers. They also had periods when they received no holiday pay, sick leave or Kiwisaver entitlements and even had to pay their own ACC cover.

The union successfully argued in the Employment Court that the workers’ real employer was LSG Sky Chefs.

The application for leave to appeal is due to be heard in June. If the original ruling is upheld, the union will be lodging a back pay claim for Kamlesh and Liutofaga and many other workers. Kamlesh has since found a new job, and Liutofaga has a new baby!

Kamlesh told E tū and You: “I am very happy that we won the case. Now we need to flight to get our money that is owing to us. It is a very important victory.”

Meanwhile, the union is working with other labour hire workers at LSG Skychefs, to ensure they know their rights in the event the Court of Appeal upholds the Employment Court ruling.

End of an era as Cadbury closes

Our thanks and best wishes go to our E tū members at Cadbury in Dunedin which closed on 29 March.

Once the plant employed close to 400 workers. Today, only maintenance engineers remain on-site, dismantling what’s left of the machinery. The rest has been shipped to Australia where Mondelez, Cadbury’s owner, has moved production.

E tū Cadbury delegate, Teresa Gooch

Cadbury Sub-Branch Vice President, Teresa Gooch documented the shut-down in the photos below.

Speaking just days before the closure, Teresa told E tū and You it was tough working those last months, especially once work began to pull the place apart.

“It was something some of us thought we wanted to do, but we didn’t realise the end would be so hard, not having your friends there, it’s just not the same. It’s really not ‘the factory’ any more.

“There’s quite a few Aussie contractors pulling the place down and it’s been pretty hard to watch them do that,” she says.

Cadbury was very much a big family, and Teresa remains adamant the closure is a mistake.

“It’s just heartbreaking – they’ve destroyed a good, family-oriented business in Dunedin.”

Teresa and her fellow delegate, Jason Welch have also thanked the union for its support and work on their behalf in the wake of the closure decision.

“It’s been really good, really helpful,” says Jason who has also watched with sadness as the factory shut down. Jason has a new job but he remains critical of the closure.

“When you think of the history, the tradition and the chance to have a job, and a good job, which it gave people, it’s sad.”

We’d like to thank Teresa, Jason and our other Cadbury delegates and members, who made this site so special for our union.

Dayshift crew working on the final production run of Pineapple Lumps

Members working on the final production run of caramilk

Settlement close for Silver Fern Farms

Takapau members on the Silver Fern Farms picket line

Last minute hiccups delayed the ratification of the Silver Fern Farms’ collective agreement (CA), reached after further bargaining talks in February.

The deal was reached after strike action by 19 members at SFF’s Takapau plant, following an initial, miserable pay offer, which was withdrawn in the wake of the strike.

Delegate Brendan Illsley, says members had been trying to settle their agreement for more than a year.

“We were getting further and further behind everyone else, basically every other tradesman around the country. We’re not paid that well around this area anyway,” says Brendan.

The final deal is a good one for Takapau members, as well as our members at SFF’s other four plants. A key win is the company agreeing to the same expiry date for all five Collective Agreements.

The offer includes:

  • back pay of 1.5% from November 2016 to November 2017, for Takapau members, whose CA failed to settle over the period
  • a 1% pay rise for the next 6 months for Takapau members, as they aligned their CA with SFF four other sites
  • a 2% wage rise from 31 March 2018 to 31 March 2019
  • a new 40 cents per hour tool allowance and an additional 40 cents per hour for those already getting the existing allowance.

The total pay rise is close to 4% and Brendan says the strike was definitely worth it.

“I think it made the company wake up and realise we meant what we were saying. I don’t think we would have got anywhere without it.”

Brendan says he’s hopeful the pay rise will help slow the high turnover of skilled tradespeople at the plant.

Workers singing about Chorus subbies

A young worker fired by a Chorus subcontractor has been left without a job and with his working visa in jeopardy.

“He fired me,” says the member of his former boss. “He just said you’re no longer part of the company. I didn’t get any payment for the one month of work I did for him.”

The worker is one of many who have joined E tū after being badly treated by Chorus subcontractors installing ultrafast broadband.

The Government ordered an inquiry into Chorus subcontractors just before Christmas, after reports of labour abuses by subcontractors, including not paying so-called “volunteers”.

Problems include illegal pay deductions, the underpayment of wages or no payment for so-called ‘volunteers’, as well as health and safety breaches, no annual leave and sick leave, and inadequate equipment.

Like our member who lost his job, many are migrants and need the work to maintain their working visa status.

The union is putting these members in touch with the Government investigation team so they can tell their stories and reveal the true scale of abuses in this industry.

Roster win for Nexans’ members

When New Plymouth cable maker, Nexans decided to reinstate a 24/7 4-on, 4-off roster to replace Monday to Friday shifts, delegate Rodney Johns and his team of four were keen. It would mean a 20 percent pay rise, because they’d gain an allowance they lost when the weekday roster was introduced.

But they didn’t like the 6 o’clock start times. It limited time with their families and caused fatigue. They wanted to start at 7 o’clock instead.

Nexans delegate, Rodney Johns

“We know that is a better, healthier shift for us,” says Rodney. “Even though it sounds small, only one hour, it had a big impact on family life. When you walk in at 6am, you’re tiptoeing around, trying not to wake people. When you walk in at 7am, you’re getting people up and you are there for breakfast. And getting up at 5 in the morning wasn’t fun!”

Management said a different start time could disrupt production. So Rodney and his work mates decided to find solutions to get what they wanted. Rodney met regularly with management to discuss their concerns about operational “flow”, supervisor’s cover and so on.

Then the four members resolved each issue, working in their breaks and through texts and phone calls. “We all agreed on the 7 o’clock start, so we wrote the proposal, got it on E tū letter-head and mailed it to management,” he says.

As well as solutions, their proposal promoted the benefits of a change, including improved morale from happy families, minimised fatigue, and production benefits.

They also had a precedent. Nexans agreed to a shift change in 2016, after members made a convincing case for this. And Nexans also agreed at bargaining last year to genuinely consider different start times where this was unanimously supported.

This gave Rodney and his team hope. Sure enough, late last month management agreed to the proposal and the new roster began just after Easter.

“I was stoked! Just relieved,” says Rodney. “It’s what we needed just to make life that much easier. It made our work environment so much happier.”

Rodney pays tribute to his union and the skills he’s learned through training and on the job experience as a delegate.

“We wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it without that,” he says. “You’ve got the clauses in your contract to use; you’ve got the law to use; you’ve got the tools that E tū provides, and the education; it’s just putting it all together I guess and doing it.”

Home Support: push to resolve issues

The union is working with fed-up members at the country’s biggest home support provider, Auckland-based Geneva. Members say Geneva can’t manage guaranteed hours, with many working in conditions tantamount to zero hour contracts.

They are also concerned about their clients, many of whom report waiting for carers who fail to turn up.

“It just seems there’s something terribly wrong with the whole way it’s working at Geneva,” says delegate, Shannon Crowley.

Members at Access and Enliven report similar issues.

“Equal pay has lifted pay rates and that’s great,but people tell me they’ve lost so many hours, then they don’t hear from anyone until three weeks are up and they legally lose them,” says South Canterbury delegate, Jenny Stewart.

Members also query new requirements to log on using cellphones. They say if phones are required, then providers should pay for them as well as the data charges.


Client violence: “just part of the job”

A former IDEA Services support worker has warned of the lifelong consequences of client violence as an E tū survey reveals a raft of similar assaults against staff.

The support worker, who asked not to be named, says she suffered serious, permanent back injuries after an assault two years ago at an IDEA Services home.

“There’s just a huge history,” says this support worker. “Staff have been forced to hide in the office. I know of a staff member who would be in a bad position if a client hadn’t pulled this person off her.“

E tū conducted a survey on client initiated violence, or CIV, in response to other, similar stories. This formed the basis of a paper presented to a conference recently.

The internet survey drew 292 responses, with 199 people reporting an incident over the past year. This included being punched, kicked and spat at – in all, a total of 424 incidents. Some workers required extensive treatment, counselling and time off work.

“I had two major injuries which resulted in me having a brain scan and long-term pain therapy.”

Some, like the support worker in this story, never return to work. Another remains traumatised months after she was chased, knocked over, and beaten over the head till she passed out. Another said: “I had two major injuries which resulted in me having a brain scan and long-term pain therapy.”

Others revealed how they “sleep over” at night with several big, physically mature males but they’re not allowed to lock their doors. The toilet also has no lock.

Many respondents were angry over their employers’ attitude to assaults, which is that it’s just part of the job. They also complained that bad behaviour was rewarded while workers were always blamed for incidents, never the client.

They reported little support for rehabilitation and return to work and few knew who their health and safety reps were. One respondent noted there was only one health and safety representative for every 60-80 workers.

“The word is, get over it, it’s work.”

Speaking about the problem, Health and Safety Representative (HSR), Robyn Campbell said: “The word is, get over it, it’s work. It’s only when someone is really, really hurt that it comes to light.”

She says workers need to recognise abuse when it happens and is urging her co-workers to report it to their HSRs.

“They think anything physical like a punch, that’s abuse. They don’t get the concept that yelling, swearing, abusive language – that’s abuse. But it is and it needs to be reported.”

Living Wage 2018 – $20.55!

Living Wage supporters crowded into Wellington’s The Rogue and Vagabond bar for the announcement of the 2018 Living Wage rate

No one does an event like Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ as you can see from our picture here, which reveals the big turn-out for the announcement of the new $20.55 an hour 2018 Living Wage.

The rate was unveiled on 4 April by Wellington Mayor, Justin Lester at a gathering of Living Wage supporters at the Wellington bar, The Rogue and Vagabond which recently joined the list of Accredited Living Wage Employers.

A cheer went up when Justin revealed the rate as workers, including E tū members Kit Bennett, Rebecca Kuach, and Lewis Madar joined him onstage.

Lewis, who works as a contracted security guard at Wellington Library earns the Living Wage, thanks to the Wellington City Council’s move to gain accreditation as a Living Wage Employer.

Lewis remembers how tough life was two years ago, when he worked long hours on the minimum wage to earn enough to live on. He describes the Living Wage as transformative.

“You don’t feel that stress of needing more hours and wondering how I’m going to pay the next bill or the rent. Life is better,” he says.

Parliamentary contract cleaner, Hemi Te Hiini

E tū member, Hemi Te Hiini is hopeful he too will soon earn the Living Wage. As a contract cleaner at parliament he is on the way to the Living Wage after the new Speaker, Trevor Mallard made it a condition of his employer gaining the parliamentary cleaning contract. When Hemi moves to the Living Wage at the beginning of next year he says it will make it easier for his family to pay the bills and also care for his son who has autism.

“The Living Wage would make things so much easier,” he says. “We’ve been on a waiting list and my son is finally being seen but once I get the Living Wage, we will be able to get the things he needs.”

Lewis gives the Living Wage this ringing endorsement: “This is just the beginning of what’s to come and it’s good to be a part of that, to be with people who care about workers,” he says.

E tū Governance: get involved!

Strong internal democracy is a core part of E tū’s platform. From elected workplace delegates to our member-led National Executive, we make sure that members’ voices are heard at all levels in our union. Read about our committees and networks below and think about where you might be keen to help!

Te Runanga

By Sharryn Barton, Runanga Convenor

Nau mai, haere mai. Te Runanga welcomes all tangata whenua members of E tū to be involved in our activities. Te Runanga does not act alone and we look forward to the contributions made by our members in shaping the strength and direction of E tū.

Muriel, Joe and Sharryn

If you are interested in building a vibrant, relevant and influential representation for tangata whenua workers, their families and communities and if you are an activist on your worksite and in our union campaigns, Te Runanga is for you.

We are available to visit your worksite, marae, or other community events to share with you our vision and plan for a better future for our mokopuna.

If you would like to be involved in Te Runanga, or have any other questions or comments, please email and we will get back to you.

Youth Network

By Emily Sheffield, Network Convenor

The Youth Network represents all E tū members under the age of 35. We aim to be leaders in building progressive and inclusive workplaces and modelling best practice workplace behaviour and attitudes.

Young people have the responsibility and opportunity to create the workplaces of tomorrow. Through a union lens, this means rethinking the way we organise collectively in the face of a changing economy – particularly the casualisation of work.

E tū Youth Conference 2016

We need the voices of all young members in our network! Please get in touch to play your part. You can start by joining us on Facebook:

Over 35? You can help as well! Please identify young members in your workplace who would be keen activists.

If you would like to be involved in the Youth Network, or have any other questions or comments, please email and we will get back to you.

E tū Women’s Committee

By Marianne Bishop, Committee Convenor

The E tū Women’s Committee has been very busy since being elected in 2016. The Committee is acutely focused on E tū’s strategic goals: growth, reach, and capability, and we provide a valuable perspective by representing all women in the governance of our union.

We’ve been closely engaged with many of E tū’s campaigns, with our equal pay win being an absolute highlight. From bringing delegations to parliament, to running equal pay ratification meetings, to simply hitting the streets with our message, members of the Committee are crucial in this ongoing campaign.

Women’s Committee in 2016

We also participate in Living Wage activities. We were hugely supportive of getting the White Ribbon Campaign on E tū’s agenda, and our members are involved in all sorts of other E tū and community campaigns across the country.

The Women’s Committee is calling for expressions of interest for attending the E tū Women’s Conference, held in Wellington 11-12 June 2018. There will be speakers, workshops and more – it’s going to be informative and fun.

If you are interested in applying, would like to be involved in the Women’s Committee, or have any other questions or comments, please email and we will get back to you.

Komiti Pasifika

By Lalopua Sanele, Komiti Convenor

Talofa lava, malo e lelei, bula vinaka, fakaalofa lahi atu, kia orana, fakatalofa atu, malo ni, mauri?, and warm Pacific greetings from the members of E tū Komiti Pasifika!

Lalopua with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Our Komiti is for members from right across the Pacific Islands. We hold regular fono (meetings) where we discuss our union activities and the specific issues for members from the Pacific Islands, and we have a lot of fun socialising with other union members.

We’re very active in many E tū campaigns, including our fight for equal pay and the Living Wage campaign. We also organise for better communities outside of regular union organising – we are particularly active around housing issues.

There is always room for more! If you would like to be involved in the Komiti Pasifika, or have any other questions or comments, please email and we will get back to you.

Apprenticeships focus for delegate

Bruce Habgood began his working life as an apprentice at Norske Skog, training as a fitter, turner and machinist. He says the trades have given him “a great life with great experiences.”

“I’ve been very fortunate to work in an industry with huge variety. I’ve been exposed to everything from state of the art technology to tools brought over by James Cook!”

Today, the trades and apprentices are a focus of his work as a top union delegate.

Initially as an apprentice, Bruce couldn’t join the union, even though Norske Skog has always been a union site.

“In the early 80s when I started, apprentices couldn’t be a member because they weren’t allowed to vote on strike action,” says Bruce.

“Back in those days, strikes seemed to be the things most people were voting on, especially in places like Tasman pulp and paper mill.”

Times change though, and so do priorities. For Bruce, the role has meant doing things differently: “I guess it’s that trades thing. You see things you want changed and you think: either stop whingeing or do something about it!”

Today, Bruce walks the talk as Convenor of the Engineering and Infrastructure Industry Council, which he represents on the National Executive. He’s also on the Trades Reference Group, the union sub-committee which advises the Executive on issues related to the trades and apprenticeships.

He’s keen to see the Group take on a bigger role, as demand grows for skilled workers, amid changes to the way apprenticeships themselves are managed. That includes third party firms which now organise apprenticeships and place them with individual employers.

“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the apprentices. If your employer is a third party even if you’ve spent all your working life working for someone else, that’s not how you build a two-way relationships,” says Bruce.

The Group is also fact finding on the quality of pre-apprenticeship training and whether current apprentice training is fit for purpose.

Bruce says some training isn’t properly aligned with the trade curriculum for specific trades, such as construction.

“With the trades reference group covering such a huge cross-section of the trades, I think it is a very good forum for us to be gathering information on what’s happening.”

Bruce says two new members have refreshed the line-up and he’s keen to see it take a more active role, promoting the interests of apprentices and the trades and advising not just the National Executive but the Government as well.

“Hopefully, now that we’ve got a decent government in, we can actually have some longer term thinking around the future – not just of trades, but also training, about what we need as a country to go forward,” he says.


E tū member New Zealander of the Year!

At E tū we are so proud of our member and equal pay hero, Kristine Bartlett, who was named Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year at a gala event in Auckland last month.

To cap the occasion, the presentation was made by another E tū member, the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern!

Kristine says the announcement itself remains a blur.

“I can’t remember it! I know I was …I was just totally overwhelmed, speechless, I just did not believe it and even today, I can’t believe it’s happened. But it’s out there now and I can accept it …I’ve been on cloud nine to be honest.”

Judging by the response, Kristine was a hugely popular choice, a reflection no doubt of this ordinary working woman whose fight for equal pay brought extraordinary results. That includes last year’s historic $2 billion equal pay settlement. Kristine has also helped make pay equity a household name and inspired other women to lodge claims.

Ask Kristine where she got her courage and drive, and she pays tribute to her mother.

“You know, she struggled and nobody thought about them in those days. I think, looking back, not just in my family but a lot of families, solo mums – there was no benefit in those days and a lot of women struggled at home … so yeah, that came to the fore.”

Kristine has also always acknowledged E tū, which chose her to front the famous equal pay court case that led to the equal pay settlement.

“Without them I would be nowhere today – and all the other support out there,” says Kristine.

“I think once somebody stands up, people can see the wrongs that have been going on. It took my union to put me in front and I feel so proud and privileged to have been chosen.”

Since the award, Kristine has been busy with media interviews and attending functions in her role as New Zealander of the Year. She is back at work, and the big question is how long for, given her heavy workload.

Kristine admits she feels torn: “I love my job. So, I do want to keep working. But there’s still a lot of fighting to be done and it’s got me all wound up to keep going – to help if I can.

“I just feel really proud it’s come as far as it’s come in pay equity and I want all the women who are going through their pay equity cases to just keep going – if I can do it, you can do it.”

Law changes a win for workers

Leveling the playing field

The Government has proposed a law to restore unions’ ability to protect workers and help lift their pay and conditions. This recognises the union dividend – the fact that union members earn more and have better conditions than non-union workers.

E tū knows working people need higher pay which in turn will benefit economic growth. Prosperity does not trickle down from the wealthy but is the result of workers earning more and spending this in their local community.

The planned changes will reverse many of the more than 30 law changes by the National Government to hobble unions and benefit their employer mates at the expense of their workers.

This is a huge change which E tū welcomes and embraces. Below, we report on a few of the changes and how they will benefit our members.

Union access an issue for WINZ guards

Union access is vital to ensuring members get the advice and support they need. The previous government restricted access rights for unions, with organisers often banned from seeing members at work.

This affects WINZ security guards, who have been blocked by the Ministry of Social Development and security firm, Armourguard, from seeing their union organisers at their worksites.

As E tū and You goes to press, the dispute was due to heard by the Employment Court.

“Knowing the union can’t access our worksite definitely means it is hard to get support when we need it,” says Kit Bennett, an E tū Wellington security delegate.

Soon though, the Government will restore union access rights as part of changes to restore union rights for workers.

Kit says that will make recruitment easier: “Sometimes it’s that face-to-face contact with an organiser that makes the difference,” she says.

Security delegate, Kit Bennett

Legal boost for vulnerable workers

The Government will soon introduce a law change to help stop the ‘race to the bottom’ as contractors drive down wages because of the competitive tendering processes in many industries, such as cleaning.

The Employment Relations Act includes job protections under clause 6A, which required new employers to take on the old staff when contracts change hands.

However, the previous Government allowed an exemption for employers with fewer than 20 workers. This has resulted in the wholesale franchising of cleaning, especially in schools.

Often the contract bids are too low for the franchisees to afford the current workers, and many lose their jobs in the restructuring of hours that follows the renewal of a contract for services, such as in cleaning or security. Others who transfer over often find themselves working for multiple employers.

Invercargill delegate, Alana Clarke works for three different cleaning contractors – contracting giants, OCS and Spotless, and a franchisee, LC Cleaning, doing a few hours here, a few hours there and so on. Her travel time is unpaid.

“It is difficult to manage all my jobs, especially as I don’t get paid going from one to another,” says Alana. “But cleaners need the money because our pay is so low.”

The Government will be extending the timeframe for workers to decide whether to transfer over when contracts change hands – something your union supports.

If a contract changed hands, workers would have more time to consider the future, to challenge unfair conditions and to make sure the process is right.

90-day trials should go

90-day trials will be history for big employers under the proposed labour law changes. Probationary periods will still be allowed but with greater protections for workers, which E tū supports.

However, we oppose the decision to exempt firms with fewer than 20 workers. Figures show tens of thousands of people have been sacked under these trials, many multiple times.

“All those people – they can’t have all done a poor job or be a bad fit and that’s my beef,” says hospitality worker, Chloe King. “It’s really being used in immoral ways.”

Chloe herself has been fired 3 times during 90-day trials which she says are endemic in hospitality.

“It’s really used and abused over summer, so they can fire at will as customers drop off,” says Chloe, who was devastated the first time it happened to her.

“I really wanted that job. The HR man told me I was doing an amazing job and they really wanted me. Then all of a sudden, they fired me a few days out from the end of my trial. It was pretty humiliating to be honest. It was a massive blow to my self-esteem and confidence.”

We think these trials are unfair and widely misused and we will be arguing in our submission that they need to be axed – for everyone.

Hospitality member, Chloe King

Editorial: Celebrating our democracy

Two men onstage at a forum with fists raised, the audience raising fists.

Welcome to the latest edition of our union magazine, and thank you for being an E tū member. Being E tū is about being part of a strong, leading, influential union which stands up for working people and fights for a fairer deal at work and in society.

That leadership has been recognised in the award of New Zealander of the Year to E tū member Kristine Bartlett. Kristine is a modest, unassuming, tenacious and committed advocate for fairness and decency for working people. All E tū members can be proud of her achievement.

Our strength lies in our size, diversity and democracy, and this is a year of deep democracy for E tū. During March and April, our Delegates Forums and Industry Councils brought elected workplace delegates together across our regions and in our separate industry sectors to discuss the issues facing our members and what we need to do about them.

Our diversity is reflected in our representative structure which ensures we give voice to Maōri, pacific peoples, women and youth. Our Trades Reference Group ensures a focus for the skills, qualifications and industry issues across our separate industry councils.

We all know a key challenge is to be relevant to the workers of the future. I am particularly proud of our E tū Youth Conference which takes place in June, and I congratulate Emily Sheffield on her role as youth representative on our National Executive.

The highest expression of our membership-driven democracy is our Biennial Conference (meaning it takes place every two years). Our next Conference takes place on 4-5 July in Mangere, Auckland, and this year it includes the election of our Presidents.

It is also a year of democracy and positive change for our country. Our new Labour-led government is committed to changes which provide a fairer deal for working people and their families, and the proposed labour law changes detailed in this issue reflect that.

As National Secretary I am accountable to your elected Presidents, National Executive and Conference for the sound financial operation of the union and I am deeply conscious that it is our members’ fees paid out of their hard-earned wages that fund the union. Our auditor is BDO and they have praised our financial management.

Our membership fees do need to take account of rising costs and our agreed policy is to adjust fees by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measured to December each year. Accordingly, membership fees have increased by 1.6% from 1 April 2018.

We aspire to a better deal for our members and we are leading the way on pay equity, a Living Wage, a stronger bargaining hand through fairer government labour policies, safer workplaces, and providing a strong union voice for workers who are not yet in our union.

We continue to invest in being a union of the future with the roll-out of our more interactive E tū website and the MyPage members portal.

I close with a very special welcome to our new E tū members from the dance-floor of NZ Ballet. I encourage all members to think about attending a NZ Ballet production and support our talented fellow members.

Thank you again for your supportive membership.

E tū Delegates Forum, Wellington

E tū Delegates Forum, Wellington

E tū Delegates Forum, Wellington

E tū Delegates Forum, Wellington