Article Category: September 2017

E tū organising

Sunset for “sunshine” wages at King Salmon

E tū King Salmon members and delegates have won an impressive three-year deal including a pay rise of more than 10% for King Salmon’s lowest-paid workers. That’s a pay rise of almost $2 an hour.

For other workers, a series of pay rises will lift wage rates by April 2019 to a minimum of $20.20, the current Living Wage. For more senior workers, wage rates over the 3-year term are expected to match the projected Living Wage.

The bargaining team also won better conditions, including overtime by mutual agreement, and improved higher duties allowances. And there were no claw-backs!

E tū delegate Kathryn Wells says: “There was a mutual understanding between the Union and the company of the need to explore ways to get workers on the journey towards a Living Wage.

“We worked hard in bargaining to get the best result possible without losing conditions. While we haven’t achieved the Living Wage for all members we have taken a massive step towards it,” she says.

This has been a great journey, from the worksite meetings held last year to introduce the Living Wage

Employment Court for LSG SkyChefs

E tū is awaiting an Employment Court decision on a case which targets the exploitative labour hire system.

The case, taken on behalf of labour hire workers Kamlesh Prasad and Liutofaga Tulai, argues their engagement by LSG SkyChefs, via a labour hire company, is a sham to avoid the workers’ employment rights.

The Union has asked the court to declare that their real employer is LSG SkyChefs – not the labour hire company.

For four years, LSG employed the workers on the minimum wage, with no holiday, sick leave or Kiwisaver entitlements, and they had to pay their own ACC cover.

In 2015, after E tū took legal action, the workers were offered employment agreements, which included those entitlements. But E tu’s lawyer, Peter Cranney told the court the relationship remained one of “control and subservience.”

Labour hire worker, Liutofaga Tulai told the court she worked at LSG for six years with no secure hours or employment before being dismissed after LSG told her she had been there too long.

LSG litigants Liutofaga Tulai (third from left) and Kamlesh Prasad (far right) with witnesses

Etel strike wins $1 an hour

Our members at Etel in Auckland show what can be achieved when workers stand tall together for fair pay.

Etel Strike

In June, members walked off the job for a day after Etel, which manufacturers power industry transformers, offered a measly 40 cents an hour pay rise, which was then lifted to 50 cents.

The response showed Etel how strong the feeling onsite was – over 90% of workers voted for a second two-day strike. Site delegate Trevor Woodger says workers wanted a pay rise of $1 an hour and they were determined to get it.

The company buckled and agreed. The $1 an hour increase means a 6% pay rise for Etel’s lowest paid workers – that’s over half Etel’s 180-strong workforce.

Trevor says he and his workmates are “ecstatic”.

“It’s absolutely fantastic. It just goes to show the power of the combined force of members and what
it can achieve.

“The union is the guys who belong to it, who stood up for what they deserve and they did deserve it. These are skilled and experienced workers,” says Trevor.

This fantastic result reflects the strength of the union membership at Etel – close to 90% are union members, and that’s what gave them the power and confidence to fight for a fair pay deal.

Union power works and the more members there are onsite, the better the deal workers can win.

Parking wardens strike

Wellington’s Courtenay Place echoed last month to chants, whistles and drumming as Wellington City Council parking wardens took strike action.

The wardens were protesting the Council’s refusal to agree to a collective agreement which includes their wage rates.

The dispute has dragged on for two years, with the Council agreeing to consult over wages and include them in policy, but it won’t negotiate pay rates nor include them in a union collective agreement.

E tū will take the issue to the Employment Relations Authority if the impasse is unresolved.

“I believe every worker in this great country of ours deserves to have a collective agreement with pay rates included,” says delegate Mike Fiechter.

Wellington parking wardens on picket duty during their strike over their collective agreement

Future uncertain for A&G Price

E tū is supporting former workers at A&G Price in Thames after the shock closure last month of the historic foundry, affecting 40 members.

The foundry was put into voluntary liquidation with the liquidators confident it remains a viable business. They have been seeking a buyer and a skeleton workforce remains at the Foundry completing orders.

Meanwhile, as workers job-hunt in earnest, E tū staff is working with WINZ, passing on job offers received following the closure. Ensuring members get their full entitlements to redundancy, annual leave and backpay is also a top priority.

“Hopefully they can pay everyone what they’re owed and everyone can get on and find work,” says Price’s delegate, Gary Richards.

“The community’s been very supportive. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens from here,”
says Gary.

Manufacturing members support ‘Plastics’ industry agreement

Manufacturing industry members came together for mass meetings in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to hear about what E tū has planned for the renegotiation of the Plastics Industry Collective Agreement (‘The Plastics’).

The members endorsed seeking a fair and reasonable pay rise as well as improvements to health and safety.

The Plastics is a multi-employer and multi-union agreement that sets the trend for the plastics manufacturing industry.

Figures presented to members at the meetings showed Plastics members’ pay went up 31% over the past 10 years, compared to the labour cost index which rose by 24%, while the consumers price index rose by just over 22% over the same period. This means workers who organise collectively are much better off than workers on individual employment agreements.

Negotiations for the renewal of the Plastics began in late August and the union bargaining team hopes to roll out a settlement to members from September.

Plastics mass meeting, Auckland

Post members ratify three-year deal

NZ Post members have ratified their collective agreement, which includes the biggest lift in pay
for years.

The three-year deal includes wages rises of 2% in years one and two, with 2.5% in the third year. Delivery agents and posties did even better with a 4% pay rise in year one.

There was no back-dating for non-union members, and some allowances also increased.

Post delegate Will Dunningham, says there’s been a lot of change and uncertainty at Post so the three-year agreement is a good one.

“In terms of the wage increases we haven’t had a deal this good in seven or eight years. We’ve been only getting figures around 1% so this is good.”

Post delegates count the ratification ballots

Fair pay deal at Tegel Taranaki

Standing tall in union has won a great deal for Tegel Taranaki workers, including pay rises of 3% each year for the next three years.

Nationally, the average wage and salary increase to June this year was just 1.6% – so you can see our members do better together!

Members also won more secure working conditions, with Tegel agreeing to offer full-time jobs to part-time workers employed for more than 12 months.

Overtime provisions have improved with better payments, and because overtime is no longer compulsory people can turn it down within reason.

E tū Taranaki Tegel delegate, Sally Falaniko says the deal means more family time for herself and her

“I’ve got a growing family – two teenagers right down to a two-year-old. I stood up in our union because I don’t want Tegel to think it’s ok that in order to make ends meet you have to do overtime,” Sally says.

“My two teenagers look after my young ones because I’m on early starts and they miss out on being teens. Instead, they’re running around, sometimes being late to school because they need to get the little ones taken care of. That’s heaps of responsibility.

“Then I get home after working extra and can’t even enjoy a meal with my kids because I’m zombied out. Working like that, there’s no conversation about how their day was because I’m so tired and then I fall asleep early to get to work on time the next morning.

“Our 3% deal means my hourly rate starts to suit my family’s needs without doing heaps of overtime. This means I can spend more time with my little ones and talk to my teens about their own lives.”

Tegel Taranaki delegates

Expansion for union health centre

When E tū delegate Chelsy Waititi learned about the Waitakere Union Health Centre and its free treatment for union members, he signed up straight away. Appointments are also free for children under 18 and people 56 and over.

Chelsy had paid a lot for one doctor’s visit and realised the benefits for his family of four, including his fiance, their daughter and his mother-in-law.

“I’m pretty sure it was around $80 just to register and get the appointment, so being a union member was free and you know, that’s money saved in my pocket I can use for other things, like groceries and stuff like that. So it’s very important,” he says.

Chelsy is now spreading the word about the Waitakere Union Health Centre, which is a Living Wage Employer, to his workmates.

“Being a union delegate, that’s part of the job – giving them information on places like this. It can help them a lot financially.”

Now the centre, which was founded in the 1980s, is in expansion mode.

”We’ve got six-and-a-half thousand people on our books but we want more because we’re aiming to go completely free for everybody,” says Head Receptionist, Naomi Fleming.

“We’re looking at eight-and-a-half thousand enrolments for that to happen,” she says.

The centre is actively seeking registrations by visiting large employers locally, including major supermarkets and the Warehouse.

“We’ve been doing well,” says Naomi. “We’ve had so many enrolments it’s getting up there. We’re handing out brochures, doing flu shots. There’s word of mouth starting to get in place.”

Head receptionist Naomi Fleming

Council trifecta for the Living Wage

2017 has seen a Living Wage council trifecta in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

There’s a major victory in Wellington where the Council voted for an Annual Plan which extends the Living Wage to all Council contracted workers, with the Living Wage a requirement when contracts come up for renewal.

The Auckland Council (including its Council Controlled Organisations) and the Christchurch City Council have also voted to pay the Living Wage to directly employed staff.

In Auckland, this will be phased in over the next two and a half years, with pay increasing for more than 2000 council workers from September.

This pay increase includes E tū members and siblings, Corey and Reno Pavey, who work in the Aotea Centre and at the Civic Theatre.

“This is brilliant,” says Reno. “For one thing, it means I won’t have to work as many hours. At the moment, I sometimes work sixty hours a week including late nights and weekends, so I’m really looking forward
to being able to take some time off.”

“We attended the election forum at St Matthew-in-the-City last year where hundreds of people made the mayoral candidates promise to bring in the Living Wage,” says Corey.

“We’re really pleased to see how we have helped make this happen.”

In Christchurch, the Living Wage will be paid to directly employed staff from October, affecting about 470 staff.

The vote in Christchurch coincided with the visit to New Zealand of Alan Freeman, a Living Wage pioneer and former principal economist for the Greater London Authority.

Alan told Wellington Living Wage campaigners New Zealand has earned the right to “tell the world what the truth is,” as more employers, including councils, adopt the Living Wage.

“I’m struck by the fact that there seems to be emerging here some leaders with political courage and I don’t think that’s just a testimony to those leaders. I think it’s a testimony to the movement and the fact that they’re listening to that movement. And I think it tells us times are changing – and changing really rapidly,” says Alan.

Annual Plan lifts pay for Opetaia

E tū member Opetaia Siale has been a key player in Wellington’s Living Wage campaign, sharing his story of hardship on the Minimum Wage while working for Wellington City Council contractor, PPCS.

But since 1 August, Opetaia has been earning the Living Wage! That’s after PPCS renegotiated its contract with the Council. As a result Opetaia’s pay has risen from $15.75 to $20.20 an hour, which he describes as “beautiful!”

“I can afford to buy more things for my family,” he says. “And I can look forward to going on holiday – at Christmas time as well, because we can never afford to go, the cost of living is so high.”

Opetaia says it’s been a wonderful surprise for his wife as well.

“She can’t believe it. She says thank you to the City Council. And she appreciates what I did to support the union, and to support the Living Wage.”

Living Wage campaigner, Opetaia Siale

Jacinda is with us

New Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has brought a huge excitement to politics – and to the Labour Party. Like many MPs, she’s an E tū member.

Jacinda, like her predecessor Andrew Little, is a proud unionist. She first joined a union as a teenager working in a supermarket.

“I have distinct memories of sitting up in the staffroom with the handful of members who didn’t feel too afraid to join the union, and I remember us talking about politics and how we could make it easier – on a range of issues, including employment issues,” Jacinda says.

That job was also her first experience of a bad employer trying to bully workers. When new checkouts were causing issues for checkout operators she made sure her colleagues were reporting any injuries in the incident log, only to have her boss rip out the pages in front of her.

“It was a real lesson for me about the need to stand up, even if it was a scary experience,” she says.

She’s been a union member ever since and she’s proud of what our union has achieved together.

“It’s all in the name, isn’t it? E tū. I can really see the value of us joining together and I think we’ve gone from strength to strength. It’s forward-thinking.”

She’s particularly proud of the work our union has done for pay equity and says we need to keep promoting that as much as possible. She also wants to pay a special tribute to Kristine Bartlett.

“In every speech about pay equity I have continually referred to her as a modern-day hero. She will go down in history.”

Jacinda says that the “future of work” is the next frontier for the New Zealand union movement. In the face of automation and transforming industries, she is committed to a significant and resilient approach to it.

“In the past, we’ve been trying to predict where the changes in our labour market will be. I think instead of going down that track it’s not about just predicting but instead preparing our workforce.

“That’s a dominant theme for us – life-long learning, skills training, education on the job and out of the job is critical. I think we need to turn all of our economic discussions towards talking about what we are doing to upskill our workforce.”

E tū is campaigning hard for our fellow union member Jacinda Ardern to be our next Prime Minister. As her campaign slogan instructs: Let’s Do This!

Policy highlights

Green Party committed to fairness for workers

The Green Party is committed to fairness in the workplace. All workers should be paid fairly, in secure, safe jobs where they have the ability to easily organise and bargain as a collective.

The Greens support raising the minimum wage to $17.75 next year and are committed to raising it to 66% of the average wage by 2020 ($21.25). They will reverse National’s unfair workplace reforms, including abolishing the 90 day fire-at-will law in its entirety, and continue to support the ability of workers to organise and bargain collectively.

“Workers have had a raw deal under this Government. The Green Party will ensure that workers get paid fairly, can organise easily and are safe at work,” says Green Party Workplace Relations Spokesperson and E tū member, Denise Roche.

“The Greens at the heart of Government will transform workplaces for the better.”

Labour’s Fair Pay Agreements

A key Labour policy is the introduction of Fair Pay Agreements.

Unions may initiate a process for creating a Fair Pay Agreement (FPA), which will set basic standards of pay and other employment conditions within a specific industry according to factors such as job type and experience.

The equal pay settlement is a good example of how employers, unions and Government can come together to create an agreement that sets base conditions across an industry.

FPAs will create a framework for fair wage increases where good employers are not commercially disadvantaged for doing the right thing.

FPAs will cover all employees and workplaces within the relevant industry. This will be a fantastic step forward for securing decent and well-paid work in New Zealand.

Why I’m standing: Marja Lubeck

Marja Lubeck is the head of E tū Aviation and is standing for parliament this year. She is standing in the Rodney electorate and has a winnable position on the Labour list. We’d be sad to see her go but she would be an amazing voice for working people in parliament.

E tū has a long, proud history of supporting and representing political parties which uphold the rights and empowerment of working people, like you, and I want to play my part.

When members of the public fail to step forward to press the case for a better life for all, then our democracy is weakened.

That is why I am standing as the Labour candidate for the Rodney seat in the next General Election.

I will be out campaigning in this safe National seat, to shake the complacency of the National party candidate over issues that matter to you, our members.

It has never been more important that we engage in the decision over who governs us. Working people face a hard time in our country. Conditions and wages are very poor for many and our young people look to the future with uncertainty.

That is why I am standing. I want to see Labour values – the values of fairness, decent working lives and peace and prosperity for families presented to the electorate.

These are the messages I will be promoting on the campaign trail. They are also the messages of E tū.

I am campaigning now, and I’ll take the opportunity to urge you to cast your vote to change the Government! Vote for hope, optimism and a better future with opportunities for people to get ahead.

I also ask people in Rodney electorate to support me – you have the power to back my message and your party vote will get me into government.

A close-run race will show the National party that the things I believe in also matter to other people.

Top delegate a trail-blazer

Christchurch delegate, Natasha Packham, has always been “union proud,” and a union member since she started work at 16.

“My dad was a delegate all his life. He got an award from the union and for his workplace, which was
pro-union as well, and I guess his values rubbed off on me,” says Natasha.

Natasha was one of the first women to complete a printing apprenticeship at Amcor’s Carmen Road premises. Today she’s one of just two women printers at the firm’s Branston Street plant.

Blazing that trail was tough, she says.

“It hasn’t been easy and it wouldn’t have been easy for them either,” says Natasha. “Doing the work didn’t come into it – suddenly there was a woman – and all of a sudden things had to change slightly.”

But Natasha won her workmates over as she worked to improve the collective agreement and campaigned on issues like equal pay.

“They saw what they could do under a collective agreement and then saw my campaigning for equal rights and gender equality and they looked at me as being a campaigner for the better cause, so to speak.”

Today, Natasha is Deputy Convenor of the E tū Manufacturing Industry Council, a National Executive member and her site’s senior delegate. Union density on her worksite is more than 90%.

“The delegates I work with are active and hands-on. We’re working together to do better things, it’s a great feeling and I think we’re going to make a great change at negotiation time in January.”

Not everywhere is so well organised, as Natasha has discovered during visits to other sites as part of an Industry Council initiative for delegates to network across their industry.

Some sites had no delegate and Natasha gave advice on how to elect one, as well as helping with online technology.

“I think I helped a few of them, helped open their eyes to what they were lacking in a few areas. I’ve walked a couple of them through how to sign up online so they could show other members how to access the magazine and everything else on the campaigns we’ve got running. A lot of them don’t realise how to do these things.”

Now Natasha is blazing a new trail, working with Amcor on a skill-based pay scale similar to the equal pay settlement.

“It’ll be remuneration-based which will give people more opportunity to earn more income and allowances by learning more skills; or there are skills they’ve got and should be earning more because of that.”

The system will also mean skills retraining when machines replace people. “With negotiations in January, we’ve got till then to smooth things out,” she says.

Meanwhile, she’s delighted with E tū’s achievements for women.

“It’s always resonated with me what the union stands for – the importance of a focus on gender bias and equal pay. It’s exactly where I want it to be and I couldn’t be more proud to be a member of my union at the moment.”

E tū women leaders

CTU award-winner, Jan Lowe

CTU honours E tū leaders

The Council of Trade Unions has honoured two E tū women leaders at an awards ceremony at the CTU Women’s Conference in July.

Former respite carer, Jan Lowe, was honoured for Leadership and Commitment to Equal Pay, in recognition of her long court battle for respite carers, which went all the way to the Supreme Court.

”It’s unjust and it’s the Government that’s doing it. They are colluding and allowing people to be paid way under the minimum wage, and getting away with it,” says Jan.

Winning the case would have paved the way for minimum employment conditions including the Minimum Wage as well as entitlements such as holiday and sick leave.

While two judges found she was a homeworker, three decided she wasn’t, costing Jan the case – and justice for respite carers. While the union has not given up on this issue, the judgement has been bitterly disappointing for Jan, although she pays tribute to her Union’s support and the union women she met at the CTU ceremony.

“It was lovely, and the energy of the women in that room! I haven’t been anywhere like that for a long time and I so appreciated and enjoyed being a part of something like that,” says Jan.

Also honoured by the CTU was E tū’s new Bay of Plenty organiser, Bertie Ratu. July’s big storm left her stranded in Tauranga, though she watched the presentation via Facebook Live.

“I was totally over the moon,” says Bertie. “I must say I did shed a tear when I was watching it being live-streamed. I just felt so chuffed. I was so excited and so happy, all these emotions… I just thought, “far out!”

Bertie’s award is for Outstanding Service to Union Women, for her work as Shed Secretary for the Meat Workers Union at AFFCO Talley’s Rangiuru plant.

Bertie fronted many battles, on picket lines and in the courts, as Talley’s tried to get rid of her and other union members. Through it all Bertie worked to rebuild the membership on-site.

“I think that’s what helped keep the members strong,” says Bertie.

“They thought if I can do all this, being put in the tripe room, being demoted and the loss of wages, if I’m still hanging in there, so can they,” she says.

Bertie says she misses her old workmates, and they still catch up but, in the meantime, she’s embraced her new role with E tū.

“I love it, no two days are the same – it’s always different,” she says.

Bertie Ratu (far right) with Access delegates, Merianne Porter and Chris O’Hearn

Healthy and safe workplaces

E tū's award-winning health and safety rep, Brett Swanson

E tū AA member HSR winner

E tū member and AA road service officer, Brett Swanson, says a top health and safety award recognises the safety efforts of his whole team.

Brett won the Safeguard award for HSE Recruitment Health and Safety Representative of the Year at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards, held in Auckland in June.

The award recognises Brett’s outstanding work at AA though “it’s not just about me,” says Brett. “There are people behind me, not just my management but my colleagues as well.”

Brett says the AA takes safety seriously, with systems and processes at every level.

“There’s so much that could go wrong on the side of the road beyond your control that you’ve got to manage. Health and safety is a biggie.”

Brett says workers are encouraged to come forward with ideas on safety improvements.

“In the process we follow, there are all sort of forms for identifying hazards, near-misses, accidents, and people have to follow the procedures to get things done. You can’t just whinge about something like you used to. If you follow that process, it’ll get looked into properly.”

Brett has achieved the relevant Unit Standard 29315 on safety at work and urges other Health and Safety Representatives to do likewise.

Court case after serious assault

E tū has lodged a case with the Employment Relations Authority after a serious assault on an IDEA Services support worker by a service user in Palmerston North last Christmas.

The case alleges IDEA Services is failing to keep its staff safe.

Delegate Nic Corrigan, who witnessed the assault, says it happened in the early morning, with the service user turning on the staffer and chasing her down the street before catching her and beating her unconscious. She is still recovering.

Nic says IDEA Services’ safety practices are inadequate.

“They did say they were going to double staff but they’ve gone back to single staffing. Our concern is this service user has a pattern of behaviour and, while things are calm now, our worry is that in another six months we’re going to be revisiting all this.

“He’s put a lot of staff on ACC long-term.”

IDEA Services has Health and Safety Committees, but delegates say those are more about the safety of service users, not staff.

“We constantly have to be in their face to ensure staff safety,” says Nic.