E tū organising

Member Taloa Pulega with her “Save Ra Uta!” sticker

Organising win for Kenepuru cleaners!

Our cleaning members at Kenepuru Hospital have shown the value of collective action, with a successful fight-back after their employer, Spotless, decided to change their working hours but didn’t follow the management of change clause in their collective agreement.

Spotless planned to push start times at the Ra Uta Unit forward by an hour, which would have seen affected members lose their penal rates. The members were also concerned about the effect on their work in a unit with non-cognitive patients. Delegate Mele Moataa says the members also felt that if this change could happen without consultation, then it could happen with other shifts as well.

“I knew it was wrong and I pushed our members to do the right thing,” says Mele. The members organised, beginning with a petition they delivered to their boss. There was no response, so members started wearing ‘Save Ra Uta’ stickers at work. They met on their breaks, taking videos and photos, which they sent to the boss.

They posted flyers and handed them out around the DHB. Emails were also sent to their boss by directly employed DHB staff in support of our cleaners.

The result? Spotless backed down!

“I told the members the good news and they were so happy! If we can do this, we can do the same with any other hard things they want to put on us,” Mele says.

Sanford members staunch despite job losses

Sanford Bluff members and the Bluff community say they’ll keep up the pressure for the Living Wage, despite restructuring at the plant which has cost the jobs of 17 workers.

Up to 30 job losses were originally proposed, after Sanford decided to move its wet-fish processing to Timaru. However, a big submission and a public meeting with the Bluff community all built pressure on the company to reduce the job cuts.

Delegate Linda Bevin says she’s proud of what the members achieved, after they pointed out the job cuts were too severe and would leave Sanford understaffed.

“With the submission and information we sent in about needing more staff in our factories, we were able to save 11 jobs,” she says.

Linda says seeing so many workers lose their jobs has been hard.

“It is tough, but we’re a tough bunch here at Bluff! We’re just sad for the loss of these workers, they’re family. You just have to go onwards and upwards and do the best you can for the people who are left.”

In its submission seeking consent to expand, the company argued this would bring jobs and economic benefits – an assurance which now rings hollow for its workers and the local community, who remain committed to continuing their campaign to make Bluff New Zealand’s first Living Wage town.

“We’re committed to the Living Wage, absolutely,” says Linda. “This hasn’t changed our thoughts on that. It’s a necessity for us after being on minimum wages for so long.”

Strikes force IDEA to court

IDEA Services members have begun a round of paid stop-work meetings to discuss the outcome of facilitation last month and possible further strike action.

Strike Seven! IDEA Services picket in Wellington

The decision from facilitation, which is non-binding, was expected in early August and followed a three-day hearing at the Employment Relations Authority in Wellington late last month.

Our members applied for facilitation in June and won on the basis of on-going strike action, which failed to resolve the dispute. Our members took strike action seven times between April and late June and the fact that this was the decisive factor in the decision is really worth celebrating.

The hearing saw no progress on members’ claim for weekend and higher senior service workers’ pay rates. However, IDEA Services has abandoned its efforts to gut the health and safety protections and to reduce members’ rights around service reviews.

IDEA Services has not given up its claim for flexibility, which would allow it to move members to any house for any shift at any time, with very little notice.
Delegate Nic Corrigan, who attended the facilitation, says IDEA Services is struggling with initiatives which will place more control in the hands of clients and their families and away from providers like IHC.

Our bargaining team at facilitation

“The issue of flexibility is an issue of control,” says Nic. “They want full control over everything. It’s in their ideology – they don’t want people to have a say. It’s a fundamental change and they’re struggling to adapt.”

Timaru delegate Dina Dolamore says the flexibility claim is the issue that concerns members the most.

“Why would anyone agree to that? You’d never know when you’re working or be able to plan your life,” says Dina, who says stability is also essential for her very vulnerable clients. “We have people who can tell you who’s coming in, and when that changes, it causes huge distress for them,” she says.

Meanwhile, members’ claims for additional pay for senior support workers and penal rates for weekend work remain very much alive.

Movement on Metals and Plastics

E tū’s flagship employment agreement for manufacturing, the Metals and Manufacturing Multi-Employer Collective Agreement, is set for ratification.
Members are seeking new minimum pay rates, the preservation of relativities and new redundancy provisions of two weeks’ pay for members employed for between six and 12 months.

Bargaining team member Mark Beaumont describes the talks as “respectful, and that made things a lot easier.”

Our Plastics and Metals combined member meeting

“The exciting thing was the application of a fixed rate for the bottom and a percentage for those on a higher income. It’s been helpful in lifting that bottom rate up and that’s been a great breakthrough,” he says.

Meanwhile, our Plastics MECA members were due to head back into talks with many issues unresolved since bargaining in July.

Talks so far have seen a tough line from employers with a low-ball pay offer, and a refusal to budge on key claims including redundancy provisions and retaining coverage for administration workers.

Bargaining team member Peter Heatley says he’s told the members to hang in there for a fair deal.

“When you look at some of the settlements out there, we’re not asking for more than other groups have been and I don’t think our demands are unreasonable,” he says.

Access settles

Access home support coordination and administration members have finally settled their collective agreement after a lengthy battle.

Despite their vital role arranging home support visits, many were earning the minimum wage, so members took strike action in May. Mediation failed to resolve the dispute, so members took more action including a four-day strike in June.

E tū Access members standing tall

Finally, Access agreed to a deal which lifts the minimum rate over the next 5 months by $1.00, to a minimum rate of $20 for coordination and administration staff. Union members also received a $500 one-off payment and three days of extra sick leave.

Bargaining team member Karen Radovanovich has welcomed the settlement but says this is not the end for the members.

“It’s a first step. We know where we want to be, so after accepting this one, we can go back to the table early next year. For now, an increase is an increase and we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished,” says Karen.

“Given what everyone does to keep home support going at Access, union members are quite prepared to go back in and push for more.”