Article Category: December 2020

Holiday rights

Public Holidays 2020/21: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and the Day after New Year’s Day

In 2020/21, Boxing Day and the Day after New Year’s Day fall on a Saturday, so these two holidays will be ‘Mondayised’. This means that if you usually work Monday to Friday, then these two paid holidays move to the following Monday.

If you usually work on a Saturday, then that is your paid public holiday day off. If you are required to work, you get time-and-a-half AND an alternative holiday (or day in lieu).

Every worker in New Zealand is entitled to either paid days off at Christmas and New Year OR alternative paid holidays

If you have to work on any of these days, then you must be paid at time-and-a-half rate AND be provided with an alternate day off.

The timing of alternative holidays is your choice, but must be at a time that your employer agrees to.

If you have an accident or get sick during your holidays, you can claim this as sick leave, with a medical certificate

Remember to check your collective agreement for any specific holiday entitlements.

E tū organising

Strike in one for Griffins’ essential workers

One strike was all it took for members at Griffins Foods in Wiri to win, and win they did.

Members had planned to do a total of six strikes, but found that the company agreed to a 3% pay rise with full back pay after just one. They even agreed to pay members for their strike time.

A Griffins delegate Stephanie Simpson says the single two-hour strike “blew [her] away”.

“I was just feeling so proud that they had the courage to walk out, especially a couple of the ones that were fairly new ,” she says.

“They shook those signs and flags for the whole two hours – I just couldn’t believe it.”

Griffins workers were also considered essential during COVID-19 and worked throughout the lockdown. Since the win, Stephanie says she’s noticed members feel stronger in themselves.

“To know that they were a part of getting that 3% – they were so happy to be a part of it, that finally they stood up to management and they had a voice at the end of it.

“It makes people realise they do have a say.”

School cleaners find their voice with new project in South Auckland

Delegate Lulu Low is keen to support other school cleaners at work

Just months ago, they were invisible workers. Now school cleaners are finding their voices as part of a project in South Auckland to connect them up so they can learn about their rights and continue the fight for the Living Wage and Fair Pay Agreements.

Since July, almost 70 school cleaners have joined E tū, including new member, Lulu Low.

Now a delegate, Lulu says joining the union has given cleaners more confidence to speak up when something isn’t right.

“Knowing our rights and where we stand, and that we have E tū behind us when we’re not treated well, has taken a lot of weight off our shoulders,” she says.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, school cleaners didn’t know where to turn when they faced issues like having no PPE and companies using their annual leave instead of the government subsidy. They also have an ongoing struggle in not having enough paid hours to do their jobs properly.

Now members know their rights, the next steps are to train around 25 new delegates and to build on the campaign for Fair Pay Agreements, or industry-wide standards, to raise pay and conditions.

With her new knowledge, Lulu says she’s looking forward to supporting others to find their voices.

“I know now we do have the right to say ‘no’ in the workplace and we won’t lose our job. We’re not just cleaners – we are essential.”

Air New Zealand members continue to organise to get their messages out

Members are continuing to organise during extremely tough times, including almost 400 more redundancies for the 787 cabin crew just before Christmas. This follows around 4000 Air New Zealand workers who have already been made redundant since March.

In November, members campaigned against outsourcing both at home and overseas, demanding that Air New Zealand only use workers directly employed by the company, as well as provide work in Aotearoa New Zealand by shutting down their crew base in Shanghai and by ending the aircraft maintenance contract in Singapore.

Members also spoke out in the news media against the multi-million dollar share rights accepted by CEO Greg Foran and the executive team, a conditional bonus, convertible to shares in 2023.

A cabin crew member says organising is the only way to “shine a light” on what’s happening for aviation workers, when the company and the Government have not stepped in.

“You have to try and highlight the issues. If you don’t speak up to try to keep jobs in New Zealand, then that’s supporting the contract in Shanghai, including substantially lower conditions for those workers.”

They say the executives’ share options are “so inappropriate” with everything that’s going on at the company and in the tourism industry.

“[After hearing the news] a colleague rang me in tears. They were just so disappointed in the double standards.”

Another member, who works in the hangar, says it’s a real concern to see younger, less experienced members of the engineering team laid off, while work is still being outsourced to Singapore.

Members are more than willing to be flexible to decrease job cuts and retain the work in New Zealand, they say.

“We’re not asking to save all their jobs, but a portion. Our ideas haven’t been explored or listened to.

“It’s really important that we start planning for the future. We don’t know the date when international flying will fully restart, but when it does, we are going to need the right people in place.”

Facteon members make sure everyone gets the Living Wage

When it comes to decent pay, no one should get left out – that’s the feeling among members at Facteon, an automation company in East Tamaki.

The tight-knit group had assumed wages weren’t a problem for their members – until they found out their cleaning and catering staff weren’t on the Living Wage yet.

Delegate Rhendy Visser says the members, who are mostly made up of engineers, soon understood why the Living Wage needed to be on their list of bargaining claims.

“I went around and had a chat with most of them and they were really supportive,” he says.

Fortunately, the company also didn’t need much convincing to lift its workers to the Living Wage, which fits with the family feel among union members at Facteon.

Facteon is now an accredited Living Wage Employer.

“Being in a union is about looking after everybody,” Rhendy says.

Faceton members were delighted to move to the Living Wage

Bacon factory workers win after Premier Beehive picket

Members took it in turns during their break to picket for a pay rise and the Living Wage

Empowerment was the feeling on Premier Beehive’s first ever picket line, as members took decisive action to get the pay rise and back pay they’d been asking for.

Workers at the bacon factory in the Wairarapa continued to work through the country’s Level 4 lockdown as essential workers. Although they’ve been at the company for years, many earn little more than the minimum wage.

After seeing no improvement in Premier Beehive’s wage offer when they got back to negotiating in July, members voted to take industrial action. On 1 September, they took it in turns to picket during their breaks.

Delegate Karen Sinclair says although it was scary for some to step up, everything went well.

“We got the label and the company outside the front gates. Within a week, we were back at negotiations and got a better deal.

“Sometimes you’ve got to do [things like] that to make things fair. People have to survive and make sure they feel like they’re appreciated.”

Although members didn’t get the full pay rise they’d asked for, Premier Beehive did agree to increase wages with back pay to April. Karen says at the next round of bargaining in 2021, she’ll be advocating for the Living Wage. She’d consider action again, but hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“We want to form a good relationship with the company, so they start to value our members and give them a fair go, which is what they deserve.”

Online home support campaign calls for sector overhaul

Home support members from E tū and the PSA shared their messages on social media

After successfully joining the global fight for PPE, home support workers are now continuing their online campaign to raise awareness of their pay and conditions.

Their petition, “They Deserve The Best”, was launched in September and is well on the way to its initial goal of 2000 signatures.

The campaign calls on the Government to increase funding to the sector so workers have regular hours, decent pay, including properly paid travel time, breaks, and pay for mileage between clients.

Delegate Merianne Porter says COVID-19 was a turning point for workers, as it highlighted how home support care is not given the same weight as other types of care.

“We’re on the front line and we’re just as important as truckies, doctors and police,” she says.

Delegate Ana Palei agrees: “You come face to face with social issues – family, medical, physical. The work that we do is just like the people in public hospitals, but home support workers are not being as well equipped to face these challenges.”

Issues such as cuts in “care” times, access to PPE, and not having paid breaks can take a heavy toll, the delegates say.

Merianne says an overhaul of the sector has been “overdue a long time”.

“We’ve got to make sure that those out in the community that require services are being treated with the respect and duty of care they’re entitled to.”

Members at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare are proud of their collective and organising power

Growing the organising power of essential workers during COVID-19

Essential workers at a South Auckland healthcare manufacturing plant have turned their workplace into one of the largest unionised workplaces around, now with close to 1100 members.

Thanks to the hard work of delegates at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, collective power has gone from strength to strength.

Before the pandemic there were around 800 members. Now, delegates have joined up to 250 new members, with more expected over the coming months.

Delegate and site convenor Chris Burton says the increase in membership came on the back of lots of “hard work” from the 18-strong delegate team and their organiser.

Between them, delegates shared the responsibility of making contact with some 300 non-members.

“Staff understand the advantages of being a member and how the delegate team can support them. There’s also the benefit of word of mouth from the rest of the members,” Chris says.

Delegates also advocated for more certainty for contracted staff, which will see almost 700 of around 1200 casuals move to fixed-term contracts that are also covered under the collective.

Chris says members will also be petitioning the company to move away from fixed-term to permanent contracts.

Protecting their 30-year-old collective is a task all members take very seriously, he says.

“Because we have a comprehensive collective, we have a very safe environment and are constantly vigilant.

“Not only do we treat a lot of patients and save lives, but we want to maintain this iconic business as a great place for people to work, with certainty around permanent employment.”

DHB workers win the right to new leave to keep workers and patients safe

DHB workers won’t have to worry about taking time off work for a COVID-19 test or when they are asked to stand down when they would otherwise be able to work, but don’t want to use up their sick leave.

After months of engagement by E tū and other health unions, all District Health Board (DHB) employees in hospitals and at other DHB-run sites, will now be able to take unlimited Minor Illness Leave from 30 September.

Delegate Monika Oveinikovas says: “It’s good because people won’t have to take up their annual leave and time in lieu.”

E tū will also be pushing for the unlimited leave to be applied to DHB contractors as well, for staff and patient safety.

We’re back to bargaining!

We’re in full swing bargaining all your agreements across aged and residential care, and the home and disability support sectors, with several heading to ratification now. We’re fighting for additional sick leave, training to help care and support workers move up the pay scale, and moving toward the Living Wage for our service and admin workers in these sectors. Keep an eye out for more about your particular bargaining!

Cleaners share their stories in new anthology

Veteran cleaner, E tū Industry Council member and activist Mele Peaua has one aim: that cleaners have decent conditions, the Living Wage, and to know that they aren’t alone.

The Lower Hutt resident, who immigrated to Aotearoa New Zealand from her native Tonga at 17 and began a cleaning job in a motel the same day, has shared her story as part of a new anthology by cleaners – past and present – on what it means to be a cleaner.

Published in November, Somewhere a cleaner, features poetry and prose by 93 Kiwi writers, including Mele. It was launched at Parliament by Labour MP and former refugee Ibrahim Omer, who worked as a cleaner himself for years at Victoria University to fund his studies.

Mele says she is very excited to see the lives of cleaners explored in a book and hopes it will help them to feel less alone.

“I’m not just talking about my own experience, what I go through – my problems are the same as all other cleaners.”

Her poem also tells the story of her journey, she says.

“How in the beginning, I came from the [Pacific] Islands, talking about cleaners fighting [for their rights] during bargaining and all those kinds of things.”

Mele says improving conditions through Fair Pay Agreements and bringing all cleaners up to at least the Living Wage is essential. And poetry is a good way to get the message across, she says.

“COVID-19 pushed cleaners to see how important they are. We’d like to see them appreciated – we make a massive difference in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Visit www.landingpressnz.com/books for more.

Celebrating our E tū Activist of the Year

It was Neville Donaldson who took on aged care worker Rasela (Sela) Mulitalo’s case, when she first ran into trouble for challenging management at work.

The E tū Activist of the Year, who was awarded the Neville Donaldson cup at this year’s Biennial Conference, has been a union member ever since she started working at 18, but it wasn’t until her mid-20s that she really became an activist.

Sela says it was the support she received from the Service and Food Workers Union when she was just a newbie in aged care that made her understand the importance of unions.

“We were always short staffed and I used to voice that a lot, so I got hauled into the office and they were set to get rid of me.

“I went straight to John [Ryall], who was the National Secretary at the time, and then he arranged a meeting with Neville.”

Thanks to John and Neville’s mentorship and encouragement, Sela says the experience changed her: “From there, I was like, I’ve seen the power of the union and that moved me to give back.

Around the same time, Sela’s first taste of union organising came when she attended a meeting for the Central Region Komiti Pasefika. The session was an eye-opener, she says.

“As people were speaking about their issues, I was gobsmacked. It doesn’t matter what kind of job or role you’re in, the issues you face are the same.”

Sela was soon invited to join the group, where she was made one of the first youth members of their caucus.

She also began campaigning around the Living Wage, becoming a voluntary organiser in the early days of E tū for the cleaners at the Hutt City Council.

In the aged care sector, she joined the fight for the Equal Pay Settlement, helping to run ratification meetings and supporting members with their concerns.

Even before the case was settled, Sela saw a chance to make sure her members were on the right pay scale.

“I think it’s for a lot of us, [the settlement] the chance that we needed in our sector to be actually recognised for what we do – it’s been undervalued for so long.”

Last year, she also joined the E tū Youth Network.

Sela says one of the parts of her union work she’s most passionate about is her involvement with Komiti Pasefika.

“Our Pasefika people tend to shy away speaking up and are silenced by barriers like English being a second language,” she says.

“It’s our time to make sure we have a voice and to fight for our people’s rights, but to also pave the way for our next generation.”

It also means she’s able to enjoy some valuable mother–daughter time, as her mum, Sally, is Komiti Pasefika’s National Convenor.

“My parents always encouraged us to speak up, they’ve put this fighting spirit in me. My mum plays a huge role in my union journey. I wouldn’t be the person I am without her.”

E tū democracy – members shaping our union

Every two years, our Biennial Conference makes decisions on the shape of our union based on remits raised by members all over the country, through Delegate Forums, standing committees, Industry Councils, Te Runanga and the National Executive.

The conference this year considered and voted on 27 remits. Here are some of the highlights.

Increasing our strength in diversity

The conference supported building a formal structure for our [email protected] network – a voice for LGBTQI+ members. Our delegates also supported the establishment of an action group of migrant workers within E tū. We will see increased youth representation at future conferences and action to increase support for issues that affect Pasefika members. If you are interested in being involved in any of these areas, contact an organiser at E tū Support by emailing [email protected] or calling 0800 1 UNION (0800 186 466).

Solidarity membership

A solidarity membership is being established which is a new concept of community membership, linking people together for justice for working people and their families, enabling the union to build on its campaigns for decent lives. It is open to retired members, students, people wanting to be politically active, or current members keen to contribute to the growth of our solidarity work.

Embracing our digital future

Our conference delegates also approved a range of rule changes that enable us to engage, exchange information, and make decisions through digital tools to complement our ongoing work in meetings, workshops, pickets, rallies and more.

E tū Life Member and Te Runanga Convenor Sharryn Barton leads a workshop on Māori leadership

Biennial Conference: Rebuild Better Whakamanatia

After many months of uncertainty, E tū held its third Biennial Conference, Rebuild Better Whakamanatia, at Eden Park in November. Seventy-five delegates came together for two days to learn more about how we can rebuild better in the wake of COVID-19.

Conference discussed a Just Transition for workers who will need to shift into low-carbon or alternative industries; ensuring Fair Pay Agreements to set national standards in industries like cleaning and security, and preventing the “race to the bottom” in pay and conditions for contracted workers by having a Government system for social procurement; the importance of the Living Wage in a post-COVID-19 world; and E tū’s online JobMatch tool to support decent jobs.

Green Party Co-Leader Marama Davidson and E tū Presidents Muriel Tunoho and Don Pryde

 

E tū National Executive member Gadiel Asiata

Te Runanga convenor Sharryn Barton was made an E tū Life Member, and Rasela (Sela) Mulitalo was recognised as Activist of the Year. E tū also honoured two long-standing and committed unionists: activist and caregiver Marianne Bishop, and New Zealander of the Year Jennifer Ward-Lealand, with their awards as Unionists of the Year.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Green Party Co-Leader Marama Davidson, and Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood all reaffirmed their commitment to Fair Pay Agreements and the Living Wage for public sector contracted workers.

E tū Biennial Conference Awards

E tū Life Membership
Te Runanga Convenor Sharryn Barton

E tū Activist of the Year
Komiti Pasefika and E tū Youth representative Rasela (Sela) Mulitalo

E tū Unionist of the Year
Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Marianne Bishop

Our members in the corridors of power

This election has seen a whole new crew of E tū members elected to Parliament for the Labour Party. The new entrants come from diverse backgrounds and have experience from across community life in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Camilla Belich is an experienced employment lawyer who has worked for unions in Aotearoa New Zealand and in the United Kingdom. She has particular interest and experience in industrial relations issues such as pay equity, safe hours of work, and discrimination. Camilla is also interested in transport, clean water, and other environmental issues.

Barbara Edmonds is a specialist tax lawyer and a champion for her local community in Porirua. She has worked on some big government projects including contribution to the Government’s post-March 15 law reforms. She is well known in her local community for getting out there on the front line.

Ibrahim Omer was an E tū organiser until he was elected to Parliament. Originally coming to Aotearoa New Zealand as a refugee after fleeing war-torn Eritrea, Ibrahim worked as a cleaner at Victoria University, where he became a union delegate and Living Wage activist. Since then he’s been involved in all sorts of union and community campaigns, and takes his experience and passion for low wage workers and refugees to Parliament.

The other E tū members who have entered Parliament for the first time this year are:

Ayesha Verrall

Vanushi Walters

Naisi Chen

Rachel Brooking

Helen White

Barbara Edmonds

Angela Roberts

Shanan Halbert

Neru Leavasa

Tracey McLellan

Steph Lewis

Rachel Boyack

Arena Williams

Ingrid Leary

Sarah Pallett

Terisa Ngobi

Glen Bennett

Tangi Utikere

Anna Lorck

These MPs join other Labour and Green MPs who are already E tū members in Parliament, such as Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, and Marama Davidson. Having such strong representation in Parliament gives E tū fantastic opportunities to collaborate and to campaign for transformational change.

Beyond the election: E tū keeps moving

The election of a Labour Government gives the Aotearoa New Zealand union movement a fantastic opportunity to push our agenda as hard as we possibly can. As well as our policy priorities that we took to the election, E tū has a number of new policy areas that we will be advancing in our campaigning and organising over the next parliamentary term. On top of our election 2020 policy platform that included Fair Pay Agreements, extension of the Living Wage, and doubling sick leave, we have more to campaign for this term.

Social insurance

When workers in Aotearoa face redundancy, they often take a huge drop in pay when getting a new job. Without the luxury of time to take stock and consider their options – including possible retraining – they simply take the first job they can get.

At our conference we talked about a tool that could allow a more ‘Just Transition’ for people in this situation. Social insurance would provide a publicly run, universal entitlement to 80% of a worker’s previous pay for a period of up to two years. Funded by employers, government, and a small worker levy, social insurance would give people the time and space to find decent work, so they are not forced to settle for a new job at any price. Along with increased benefit levels, rights to redundancy compensation, and strong, industry-wide collective bargaining, social insurance could help to improve lives for working people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Social procurement

The Government is responsible for paying for all sorts of services, from massive infrastructure projects, to the wages and conditions of cleaners and security guards who look after public buildings. The process of deciding who will carry out these tasks, and negotiating the terms of the agreement they have, is called procurement. Traditionally, procurement is focused on the bottom line – trying to get services as cheaply as possible. This is short-sighted. It is no good to have a cheaper service if it means workers are on poverty wages, because that results in all sorts of social harm.

That’s why E tū is campaigning for “social procurement”, which means the Government taking a wider view about the wellbeing of the people doing the work, and how that affects society – not just how much the service directly costs year to year. A good social procurement system would include promoting fair and safe employment practices, ensuring security and protection for workers when services change hands, supporting employment for disadvantaged groups, supporting local business, and meeting national and international standards for ethical and environmentally sustainable business.

Rebuild Better in E tū industries

E tū developed the Rebuild Better campaign at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to set some fundamental principles for a recovery that keeps workers protected. The renewed direction of this campaign will focus on issues specific to our industries and sectors, and our union will be running new Rebuild Better campaigns in health, at the border, in property services, and beyond.

Our Rebuild Better campaigns are guided by these principles: prioritising community health and wellbeing, having workers’ wages lead the recovery, keeping and creating decent jobs, having union members involved in all decisions, and ending inequality.

Election 2020: A win for working people

Young activist Caroline Iki

The result of the 2020 General Election is excellent for E tū members. The Labour Party had a decisive victory, winning a historic result with 50% of the vote and is able to govern alone for the first time in Aotearoa New Zealand’s MMP history. The Green Party returned to Parliament and increased their number of MPs.

Both these parties went into the election with strong policies for workers and E tū worked closely with them in our election campaign. The Government has a mandate for transformational changes in the workplace relations space, including the implementation of Fair Pay Agreements, the Living Wage for all workers employed by contractors in the public service, doubling sick leave, making Matariki a public holiday, and more.

Labour’s Mount Roskill MP, Michael Wood, who is an E tū member, has been made Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, putting him in charge of delivering many of the changes we need. Some E tū members will already know Michael Wood as a strong ally who made his commitment to our union and our priorities very clear both before and since the election. We congratulate Michael Wood, as well as the many other new and returning MPs who are E tū members and active unionists.

We know that politicians alone cannot deliver the changes we need at our workplaces and across our wider communities. That is why E tū’s election slogan was “Real change starts with us” – our campaigning, organising, and activism are essential ingredients for winning.

Lalopua Sanele making election calls to fellow members

E tū members participated in a spectacular election campaign. We made more than 13,000 phone calls collectively to ensure that our members were ready and equipped to vote. We held events across the country where members met with candidates and made sure our issues were at the front of their minds. We used our influence as a union affiliated to the Labour Party to develop and strengthen its workplace relations policies.

While the 2020 election is over, participating in democracy remains as important as ever. Our next priority is to make sure that the new Government holds to their commitments for working people. Whether it is the COVID-19 recovery and rebuild, the Just Transition in changing and evolving industries, or better wages and conditions for all workers more broadly, E tū members must stay involved in the fight for decent lives.