E tū organising

Delight as new SkyCity deal ratified

Big pay lift at Auckland Sky City

Members at SkyCity Auckland have voted unanimously to settle their Collective Agreement, which includes big pay rises for SkyCity’s lowest paid workers.

A cleaner or food and beverage worker who started this year on $15.84 an hour will see their pay rise to $17.68 by this time next year. Those with three years’ service will enjoy a pay premium of 10 percent.

Also agreed is an increase in overtime rates to time and a half for night work on weekends and other busy periods such as Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. A working party will also work on stabilising rosters.

But negotiating team member, Michelle Crooks, says she is most proud of changing SkyCity’s system of delaying pay if staff had problems clocking in and out.

“When we have to wait up to two weeks to get a ‘no clock’ fixed, it has a big impact on our lives. We can’t pay our rent or bills,” says Michelle.

She says workers on 10 or 12-hour shifts are particularly badly affected, especially as problems with the clocking-in system can happen twice in a week. “This can halve your pay,” she says.

Most E tū members work in table games and finance, where wages are above the Living Wage, but discussion on paying the Living Wage to other workers will continue over the term of the agreement.

Other wins include a lift in pay for trades staff, and an agreement not to bring in contractors until all efforts to recruit permanent workers are exhausted. A working party will also consider more support for working families, including extended sick leave and supporting those working variable shifts.

IDEA Services update

After three intensive days of bargaining in November, IDEA Services and your union remain at odds over key claims.

The union bargaining team wants relativities restored for administration staff and senior support workers in the wake of the equal pay settlement.

Admin staff have been offered a 5 percent pay rise, but also a collective agreement expiry date of October, which reduces the value of this offer. Delegates are seeking an expiry date of 31 May 2018.

“We also believe there should be real recognition and improved pay for senior support workers,” says bargaining team member, Nic Corrigan.

Meanwhile, Nic says IDEA Services is seeking further flexibility from support workers, “which makes union involvement in reviews even more important than before.

“There is a real need to reduce stress and anxiety around the service reviews process with members receiving accurate and relevant information, so they can make informed choices. IHC also needs to take every practical step to ensure members hours are maintained or increased,” he says.

A working group has been formed in Auckland with the aim to re-set worker participation in health and safety for IDEA Services. The union/management group aims to produce a workable participation agreement with a realistic ratio of Health and Safety Representatives to workers and effective Health and Safety Committees. The group expects to report to the full bargaining team in the new year.

Cadbury closure begins

E tū is supporting members at Cadbury in Dunedin after 230 workers were given final notice that their jobs will finish by Christmas.

The notices included both permanent and seasonal workers.

Machine operator and E tū delegate, Teresa Gooch, says there has been a mixed response with some members keen to go, but there is a real sense of sadness.

“It’s been a pretty sad year all round really,” she says.

While the notices tell workers they finish on 22 December, E tū has secured agreement that workers who want to work longer can do so, if they find someone finishing up later who is prepared to swap. A number, including Teresa, are hoping to do this.

“So, at the moment, people don’t know where they’re at or whether they’ll stay for a bit longer,” says Teresa. “It’s hard to make plans with what you’re doing into the New Year until you know what your finishing date will be.”

Meanwhile, many members have completed key qualifications and training courses in preparation for job-hunting, with a mass graduation at the Dunedin Town Hall in October. Many also attended a jobs expo last month to meet local employers and explore work options.

There will be more redundancies after Christmas, with the factory closing at the end of March next year. A small number of staff will remain to decommission the plant.

Several members have also accepted jobs at the Cadbury plant in Melbourne where production in Dunedin is moving.

Cadbury workers attend a jobs expo as job
losses loom

Support New Zealand made

Your union suggests consumers consider spending their money on New Zealand made sweet treats once the Dunedin plant is closed.

“I’m all for that,” says one worker, who won’t be named as he remains at Cadbury. But he feels strongly about this issue.

“I don’t plan on buying Cadbury products once it’s closed, to be honest, because it’s just not Cadbury any more. Once the factory closes, that’s it for me, I’m afraid. Cadbury’s is done.”

There are other local sweet and chocolate makers, including unionised manufacturers such as Rainbow, RJ Licorice, and Nestlé. It’s one way to support New Zealand businesses which employ local workers who make great products.

A&G Price sold?

It’s hoped at least some jobs might be saved at A&G Price in Thames. The historic foundry was placed in voluntary liquidation earlier this year.

The liquidator has a potential buyer and hopes the sale will be concluded by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, holiday pay, wages and redundancy pay have been paid out to all members, unless they are owed more than $20,000. For these workers, the remainder of what’s owed will be paid out once a sale goes through.

The foundry continues to attract work, and about25 workers remain on site to fill those orders.

Formerly, the foundry employed about 90 people.

Summit sought on equal pay

Thousands of members have had their lives transformed by the equal pay settlement, including Gore care and support delegate, Roszanne Davidson.

Back in February, Roszanne felt overwhelmed, trying to pay medical bills and meet living costs on her low wages. “Things back then were pretty grim,” she says.

Today, the settlement means Roszanne earns $23.50 an hour.

“What a blessing!” she says. “I can actually pay to go to the doctor’s without charging it and causing another horrendous bill. I can get my eyes checked – I haven’t done that in six years!

And the difference for my co-workers – it’s amazing!” says Roszanne.

“They can afford to go to medical appointments. They can afford to eat a decent meal.”

But your union is also dealing with members who have lost hours, amid claims by aged care providers that the settlement is under-funded.

Unions were not included in talks about the funding, but it appears to penalise facilities where occupancy rates fall below 97 percent, which is most smaller, independent rest homes. Reports suggest other providers will make million dollar-plus surpluses.

E tū has called for a care and support industry summit to address these issues. E tū’s Women’s Committee Convenor, Marianne Bishop, says any funding issues must be resolved.

“It’s not good for the elderly or the disabled if equal pay isn’t funded properly and people are going to have to close down facilities, or undermine the process by reducing hours and making people work harder,” says Marianne.

“If we work together we’re going to get there more quickly. That’s how we got where we are, by working with other unions and people outside the unions.”

Your union is also opposing a move by Dementia NZ homes to introduce the role of Home Assistant which pays near minimum wage rates.

Marianne says she was hired as a Home Assistant 20 years ago and she doubts care homes will be able to separate the position from caregiving.

“As a Home Assistant I did caregiving work, so that’s a cop out,” she says.

Meanwhile, Roszanne is saving up to redo her kitchen, which wouldn’t have been possible on her old pay rate.

“We can’t afford any extras. It’s still a struggle,” she says. “But it’s doable. Before pay equity, it was definitely not doable at all. So, it’s made a huge difference to my life.”

Gore delegate, Roszanne Davidson

Union grows at Sistema

Tough working conditions and low pay are helping grow membership at plastics company, Sistema, where members say it’s time they earned a
Living Wage.

The Government has promised improved rights of access to workplaces for union organisers and Sistema members are hoping this will help them win shorter hours and higher pay.

‘We need more access to the company and we need more time to have meetings,” says one member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Membership has surged to 130 members since the company’s sale to United States corporate giant, Newell Brands, for $660 million.

But workers still earn only the minimum wage for a compulsory 60-hour working week. Workers have long complained about fatigue and injuries caused by 12-hour shifts on their feet, working at a relentless pace.

Union pressure last year saw Sistema offer workers the option of shorter hours, but our member says this is never authorised: “People ask for day shift, 9 to 5, but they are not giving it to them.”

Workers are seeking a better wage deal at the current negotiations, and the member says people continue to join because they hope that by being collective they will be able to win what they deserve.

Win in LSG Sky Chefs case

In a major victory, E tū has won its Employment Court case against global airline catering company, LSG Sky Chefs for its exploitative use of local labour hire workers.

LSG has a near monopoly on airline catering in New Zealand.

E tū took the case on behalf of LSG workers, Kamlesh Prasad and Liutofaga Tulai, who were hired through labour hire firm, Solutions Personnel, also trading as Blue Collar Limited.

The union argued the workers’ real employer is LSG Sky Chefs, not the labour hire company, and the Employment Court agreed.

The court recognised the vulnerability of workers like Liutofaga and Kamlesh, exposing their pay and conditions including Liutofaga’s working week of up to 62 hours. It noted at one point she worked 34 full days of work without a day off.

“I’m feeling grateful and happy,” says Liutofaga. “I am thanking God and E tū for supporting me to go ahead!”

Both worked for years for minimum wage or just above, with no holiday, sick leave or Kiwisaver entitlements, and they had to pay their own ACC cover.

Liutofaga who worked for LSG for six years before losing her job will be eligible for backpay, as will Kamlesh whom the court has ruled is an LSG employee.

“I am feeling good we won the case, and about the backpay. I have paid double IRD, double ACC, double everything,” says Kamlesh.

As a union member, Kamlesh will also be entitled to the superior pay and conditions included in the LSG Collective Agreement for directly employed workers.

E tū is now calling on the airline catering industry to get rid of labour hire completely and for all major airlines to take responsibility for labour practices in its supply chain.

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