E tū organising

Members at Asahi Beverages after ratifying their collective agreement

Strike power leads to real results at Asahi

It took grit and determination for delegates and members to more than double their membership and triple their delegates at Asahi, the well-known drinks company, in the lead up to bargaining this year.

But they knew joining was just step one to secure decent pay increases.

Members were fully engaged in their bargaining process and voted nearly unanimously in favour of a 24-hour strike if the company was not going to improve their offer.

The threat of a strike worked, and Asahi offered the pay rise members needed to settle.

The end result? An extra $5 per hour over two years, which will mean all members will now be at least on a Living Wage from June next year.

A delegate at Asahi, Ken Cruickshank, says members were “relieved” to secure a pay rise.

“Members worked ridiculous hours and they had to work those hours as the pay was so low before,” he says.

“It was a bit sad that we had to go to those lengths to get it resolved. But the end result is the main thing and we managed to achieve it.”

Big step up for workers in schools

Porirua school caretaker and groundsperson Bill Hiku knows a good deal when he sees it.

The E tū delegate, who bargained the deal alongside delegate and cleaner Liz Hammond, says the pay wins in the most recent collective agreement for school cleaners, caretakers, and canteen staff are “monumental”.

All workers in those areas employed by the Ministry of Education will be entitled to anywhere from a 12% to 16% pay rise over the agreement’s two-year term.

The pay increases fall under the Government’s cost of living increase for workers in public service, which was up for review during the bargaining for  the collective agreement.

The new rates will go through in the first quarter of 2023, but with pay backdated to signing.

“Bargaining began in February and has been a long, drawn-out process, so I’m pleased members were so patient and we were able to negotiate some really concrete rates,” says Bill, who primarily works at Porirua College, alongside six other schools in the area.

E tū delegate and school caretaker Bill Hiku

The Ministry has also agreed to form a working party to review pay for caretakers to fairly recognise their qualifications and experience.

Bill also wants to see a Fair Pay Agreement (or FPA) for workers in his sector.

“FPAs signal some return to certainty around progression and pay rates, and it sends a crystal clear message to employers to be fair and responsible to their employees.”

Aviation delegates join together to create safer airports

Air New Zealand delegates at their first Delegates Council meeting in November

Delegates at Air New Zealand are taking a proactive and strategic approach to creating better work conditions and building union power by forming their own elected delegates’ council. Around 20 of the airline’s delegates, who work in different roles, came together for their first meeting in November.

Health and safety was a big focus, and creating shared goals for bargaining that all Air New Zealand members could get behind.

Ground handling delegate Owen Walthew works at New Plymouth Airport and says it was important that workers in different roles could unite around the same aims.

“It’s about having that energy and standing together in power with other workers also on collective agreements – rather than regional airports bargaining for one thing, and Engineering and Maintenance bargaining for something different,” he says.

“I’m really interested in the idea of having safe airports, which means every employer and operator – including contractors – has to have high health and safety standards and reps elected by the workers.”

Cabin crew member Gina Urlich became a delegate in the past year and had only previously met other delegates online due to the pandemic, so it was great to meet face to face.

“I think it keeps you more engaged as a delegate. It’s really positive and great to actually be able to reach out to other delegates.”

The next Air New Zealand Delegate Council meeting is set down for February.

There are 3100 members covered by 10 collective agreements at the airline.

“Terrific” result for latest journalists’ collective

RNZ in Wellington

The pay rise in this year’s collective agreement at Radio New Zealand (RNZ) is one of best its journalists have seen for a decade.

Signed in November, the joint E tū and PSA collective has members feeling very positive after many years of minimal or no pay increases.

Most members will get a seven percent pay rise, with a 10% increase on all allowances.

Those who have been with the company for more than five years, but who are earning below the median for public sector workers, will also have their pay increased to bring them up to 95 percent of that, as well as the seven percent rise on top.

Longtime RNZ delegate Phil Pennington says the result is “terrific”.

“The feedback that we’ve had is very positive,” he says. “We’ve only had one pay rise like it in the past 10 years that I can recall.”

RNZ members’ next bargaining will take place with their TVNZ colleagues, when the two merge into Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media in 2023.

IDEA Services members win the fight to save their collective agreement

IDEA services members at their ratification meeting for Thames Valley

After two years of tough negotiations, IDEA Services members have at last finalised their new collective agreement.

IDEA wanted to take hard-won conditions off the members and tried to negotiate away benefits, including rights to redundancy notice and pay.

The organisation tried to destroy the collective agreement altogether, taking the Government and the union to court.

The Government had given an extension to agreements that expired during Covid, and IDEA wanted the extensions to be declared illegal.

IDEA won the case, but our members on our negotiating team stood firm and pushed ahead with negotiations.

They saved the collective agreement and preserved all the existing conditions.

Members will receive improvements to conditions, including support to complete training and go up the pay scale.

There is more to win in future, but the bargaining team believes this was the best achievable outcome given the circumstances.

Bargaining team member Dawn Kopa-Katene, who has been an E tū member for almost 20 years, says the negotiations have been hard work.

“Most of our members didn’t know how close we came to losing our agreement,” she says.

“We’ve been working hard. Now the agreement is done, it’s a weight lifted off my shoulders.”

Mass bargaining kicks off at major aged care chains

Ngahuia Singh (right) with members at BUPA Foxton at their claims meeting

Members at major aged care chains are standing together for a better deal this bargaining round.

From mid-November, members from BUPA, Oceania, Radius, Summerset, and Metlifecare are in bargaining for new collective agreements with their employers.

Members are bargaining at the same time to create some consistency in pay and conditions between the aged care employers.

New delegate and carer Ngahuia Singh, who works for BUPA, says she’s always been union but is now on the bargaining team to make a difference.

“I’m very vocal and I’m not scared to speak up. I think we deserve the pay rise that we’re wanting. It would be good to increase our sick leave too,” she says.

“It’s about working as a collective – we are stronger together.”

Workers will also be fighting for pay parity with Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ) service workers, and a cost of living increase for care workers.

Rest home members long fight brings Living Wage at last

The E tū and NZNO Selwyn bargaining team

It’s been eight years since they first put a claim through to be paid the Living Wage, but members who work as caregivers and service workers at Selwyn Village never gave up.

And their fight has paid off, with pay going up by 10% for all members on the collective agreement and having the Living Wage as a starting rate.

E tū and NZNO members negotiated the deal in November, more than eight years after members called a community meeting to urge Selwyn to pay them more for their work.

Melenaite Elekana, who has been a delegate for more than a decade, says she’s “impressed” with the outcome.

“It’s good for members. Most of them are really, really happy, especially our cleaners and our care workers – we finally got it,” she says.

“The cost of living is too high at the moment, and this is a great outcome. Having a strong union will always get a better result.”

She says since starting work at Selwyn, this was the first negotiation she can remember that’s been easy.

“Even though we had two really, really long days of bargaining, this is the first easy outcome.

“This was also the first time I felt like we had a really good relationship – I think Selwyn really tried to find out what union members wanted.”

“Having a strong union will always get a better result.”

Melenaite Elekana

City parking wardens’ positive new start

WCC parking officers bargaining team at the end of negotiations

The capital’s parking officers are happy and still in shock at their “awesome” new collective agreement, which has many wins for members and looks like the start of a positive new working relationship with their employer.

The majority of members working for Wellington City Council as parking officers will see around an 11% lift in their pay, backdated to 1 July this year.

As members are on a rotating roster, new clauses mean they won’t miss out on any of the 12 annual public holidays, and will receive a day in lieu if the holiday falls on their rostered day off.

E tū delegate and senior parking officer Stuart Wheeler says the vote to accept the new agreement was unanimous.

“Everyone voted yes, which was awesome. I was quite shocked at the amount that went through in the end – it’s like a whole pay grade change for staff and will allow a lot more growth to happen.”

Stuart says union membership is also increasing with around 80% of parking officers now part of E tū – “a massive advantage” in representation for members.

Another great change has been the openness of the management to listen to members, he says.

“We now have monthly meetings with delegates, a rep from HR, and management to help build our relationship and find issues that are easily missed and work out how we can fix those.”

Solid wins for Compass hospital kitchen members

Members who work in hospital kitchens for Compass will finally get a pay rise and a new collective agreement.

It means a lift in their hourly rates this year of $2.10 an hour with back pay to September 2021, and a further 50-cent increase next year.

Under the new collective, all members will have the chance to complete their training and to progress through the different levels at the one and two-year mark of their employment.

Other benefits include being able to apply for an entitlement to more sick leave and a new Te Tiriti o Waitangi working group.

The agreement has also been extended to include members who used to work for Spotless in South Canterbury, Wairarapa, Whanganui, and Mid-Central, and whose work has recently been taken over by Compass. A special schedule protects all their
former entitlements.

Compass bargaining team members at the E tū Auckland office in August

Bargaining team member and delegate Wiremu Jenkins says the new collective agreement has been a long time coming.

“People were ready to take industrial action – that’s how angry and frustrated they were. Both Compass and our team agreed, let’s get some money on the table for our workers, and keep going with working committees around training and Te Tiriti in the new year.”

One thing he’s looking forward to? Having te reo in his kitchen.

“The hospital is beautiful, but you come into my kitchen and there’s not a single Māori word. Now we have the opportunity to sit down with the company’s cultural advisor and put things together.”