Article Category: August 2019

Air NZ HSR of the Year

Congratulations to E tū member Brent Armitage, who is this year’s Safeguard Health and Safety Representative of the Year.

Brent’s award recognises his outstanding work as an HSR, working as a loader at Air New Zealand. Brent first became aware of health and safety processes while working in the mining industry in Australia: “We had health and safety on steroids there,” he says.

Brent’s leadership skills mean he’s now been promoted to the role of health and safety advisor for Auckland Airport, a role he loves. “I just want people to go home safe,” he says.

Runanga push for more Maori HSRs

A project is underway to lift the number of Maori Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) on worksites.

An initiative of our Runanga, Convenor Sharryn Barton says government figures show Maori are under-represented as HSRs.

“It’s very bad, given high Maori employment in health care, manufacturing, and other industries we represent,” says Sharryn. “Our people are being hurt and dying on the work site,” she says.

Sharryn says most Maori E tū members are women working in care and support, and public and commercial services. She says precarious work is now showing up as a big health and safety risk, particularly for mental health, with Waitangi Tribunal research revealing stress and anxiety are serious issues for these women.

“We had an example of a woman working in aged care and she was only getting five to 10 hours a week. She can’t go anywhere because she waits for the phone call to come in and work. She’s anxious all the time and she’s getting sick. It’s a health and safety issue but it’s also undermining of mana wahine,” says Sharryn.

IDEA Services HSR Fleur Jane, who is Maori, supports the drive for more Maori HSRs on worksites.

“I think it’s good to have Maori involved. Being Maori, they get a little bit shy and don’t say a lot about anything. It’s important to have someone to talk to and to help them if they want it and they tend to be more open with someone who’s Maori,” says Fleur.

She says New Zealand’s colonial history often means there are trust issues for Maori, who see the Pakeha way of doing things prevailing. However, she says things are improving, with another HSR joining her soon.

“Balance is a good thing. I’m the connection between management and staff for those sorts of things and hopefully things will start moving.”

Next steps for Fair Pay Agreements

Another E tū campaign for better work conditions is in full swing!

Members are meeting with MPs across the country to discuss Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs), the Labour Party policy for national and regional industry-wide bargaining. The idea is to establish fair minimum pay and standards for whole industries, to avoid the ‘race to the bottom’.

In June, the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) launched a report that emphasised the role FPAs could play in making lives better for Kiwi workers. One E tū member who spoke at the launch, Mareta Sinoti, a cleaner at the National Library, explained that the inconsistency of pay across the industry wasn’t fair.

“I think the pay should be the Living Wage. We’re all cleaners but the only people who get the Living Wage are the parliament and council people, even though we all do the same job,” Mareta said.

Our security guards meet with Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway

“And we need more hours because if you get only one job and you’ve got a family, it’s difficult. Some people only get 6 hours – that’s not a full-time job, that’s a part-time job.”
E tū security guard Lavina Kafoa has pointed out that the dangers of working security require agreements that take health and safety seriously.

“You have to manage people and sometimes they don’t like being told what to do. Some people give you a hard time. Some people want to bash me. If they are drunk… it’s scary,” Lavina said.

“I work alone at night. Sometimes I have to beg the company to bring me a radio that works, or to send me someone to relieve me for a toilet break.”

Our security guards have also met with the Minister of Employment Relations Iain Lees-Galloway, to discuss FPAs and outstanding issues in the industry.

Get involved!

If you are a cleaner, security guard, or just anyone interested in FPAs, get in touch by emailing and join our campaign!

Your voice matters!

Local elections 2019

At E tū’s latest round of Delegate Forums, our elected workplace representatives shared what matters most to them and their communities.

At the top of the list were housing and the cost of living. These are issues that require everyone’s input to solve – especially our politicians. With local elections coming up, we need our issues to be front and centre. That’s why it’s crucial that you vote and get involved in your local elections.

With 55,000 members, E tū has the power to make real change in local elections. We have a proud history of success, including many different Living Wage wins across the country that are a direct result of E tū members and our campaigns fought alongside our communities.
Wellington security guard Wayne Richdale now earns the Living Wage, thanks to our campaign at Wellington City Council. He knows that union power makes all the difference in local elections.

“For me, the Living Wage is about being able to keep my head above the water,” Wayne says.

“Prices are skyrocketing wherever you look, housing, food, and transport, in particular. I feel for the families out there who are struggling. That’s why we all need to campaign for them to get a Living Wage.

“It makes all the difference.”

Farewell, John Ryall

We bid farewell to John Ryall, our Assistant National Secretary, who has retired after a stellar 42 years with the trade union movement.

John has stood with our members, their families, and their communities in their fight for justice, at the bargaining table, on the picket line, and in the halls of Parliament.

John knows members are the union and it is workers’ stories that give power to our collective voice. John is loved and respected across our union movement, holding a special place in the hearts of our members, especially Pasifika, tangata whenua, and health sector workers with whom he has worked so closely.

John’s astonishing record of court wins and imaginative new ways of organising has made him a trade union legend, his member-led kaupapa honed during years as a delegate, then later an organiser with the Hotel and Hospital Workers Union, where he began his career as an official in 1982.

John was instrumental in the equal pay court case with Kristine Bartlett, which eventually resulted in the more than $2 billion settlement for care and support workers. This is one victory among many. John’s strategic thinking steered the union to many wins despite hostile governments. He was central to the recent success for in-between travel payments, sleepover pay, guaranteed hours for home support workers, and basic rights for labour hire workers.

John initiated the conversation in 2011 about the Living Wage as a mechanism for putting pressure on government, which funded the poverty wages of so many of our members. He remained part of its governance as it became an independent movement of civil society organisations and a game changer for decent wages.

“The thing was to get unions to take a wider approach to winning support, to modernise by looking beyond their worksites, and to embrace their communities, including their churches, their wider whanau, even their sports clubs,” says E tū President Muriel Tunoho.

In 2019, John concluded his role on the Government’s Fair Pay Agreement Working Party, which is advocating for a return to minimum industry or occupational group standards and now E tū will take up the baton to campaign for legislation and implementation.

John’s belief in the merger of our two big private sector unions was critical to our success as E tū and he leaves us with a vision, with hope, and with an organisation in good heart.

John’s lifetime of commitment to the working class of Aotearoa will continue and the friendships and alliances will remain. While he is retiring, he has told us he is still here to help. So, John, our hope is that we’ll still be standing tall with you, as we campaign for the Living Wage, for equal pay, and a fair deal for our members. Enjoy your retirement – you’ve earned it.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari taku toa he toa takitini.

My strength does not come from the individual, instead it comes from the multitudes.

Put your hand up to be active

“E tū will be known not just because of the quality of its bargaining and its campaign outcomes, but by the means it achieves these outcomes, a union that is constantly activating and mobilising its members collectively to grow the union’s membership and power.”

 – E tū founding document 2015

In September this year E tū has a month of Biennial Membership Meetings for our elected National Executive to report directly to our membership on the progress of our union goals and our priority plans for the future.

The hundreds of Biennial Membership Meetings (see pages 17-21 for details) are not just an opportunity for all members to have a say and to hold our union leadership to account, but also to become more involved in our union campaigns for the Living Wage, pay equity, industry or occupation-wide Fair Pay Agreements, and for an economic framework that supports workers whose jobs are changing.

If you want to put your hand up for these campaigns, or to become active in our Runanga, Komiti Pasifika, Women’s Committee or Youth Network, then put your name down at your meeting.

The union has 130 staff and about 3000 workplace delegates, but if we are to make big gains for our members, their families and communities, we need to increase the number of our member activists tenfold.

We mobilised our members in 2017 to elect the Labour-led Coalition Government and have won higher minimum wage rates, more paid parental leave, and greater rights to negotiate collective agreements. However, change is still frustratingly slow.

We know that we cannot simply elect the Government and expect them to deliver everything for us. We must keep organising and mobilising around the policies that we want to see delivered, whether it is improved wage rates, better housing, decent public transport, or any number of other issues important for our communities.

Our September BMMs happen just before the local elections. This presents us with an opportunity to cement in the council Living Wage policies in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and to extend them to other cities and towns where the right to a Living Wage for workers is not yet on their agenda.

In a few cities we have some outstanding E tū members standing for election to councils and District Health Boards, including mayoral candidates Justin Lester in Wellington and Campbell Barry in Hutt City. We already have groups of volunteers who will be contacting our members in these areas to encourage them to support E tū candidates.

E tū is about developing member leaders, who take the union message outside of their workplaces into every local and national forum that we can.

It starts with attending your local Biennial Membership Meeting, making the decision to become more active, and putting your hand up.


Getting workers home safe and healthy

WorksafeReps is owned and operated by the Workers’ Education Trust, established by the PPTA, PSA, RMTU, NZNO, DWU and the NZCTU to provide education courses in health and safety at work.

To book a course, or for more information:
0800 336 966

Joining online is here!

New members can now join E tū online! Our new system doesn’t require a physical membership form to complete the registration process. Encourage your workmates to join us in E tū today, by signing up here.

E tū democracy

Our democratic committees and networks are at the heart of our union’s democracy. If you’d like to get involved, please send and email to the convenors:

Women’s Committee – Wheeti Haenga

Te Runanga – Sharryn Barton

Komiti Pasifika – Sally Mulitalo

Youth Network – Emily Sheffield

Trade Reference Group – George Hollinsworth

Union Support

If you need any support or advice about issues at work, contact Union Support to speak with an organiser.

0800 1 UNION
(0800 186 466)