E tū organising

Sector agreements settle

Our sector agreements in general manufacturing and in plastics manufacturing use the strength of many workplaces to maintain basic standards for members at a wide range of companies.

From five-worker engineering shops to factories with more than 100 workers, the members come together to bargain from a position of strength. Through almost thirty years, and under laws that have been designed to destroy our ability to stand together, the Metal and Manufacturing Industries Collective Agreement and the Plastic Industry Collective Agreement (the “Metals” and the “Plastics”) have endured.

Both of these agreements have recently settled, moving towards their fourth decade in force. That’s quite a history of maintaining sector standards. Agreements like these will be complemented by Fair Pay Agreements when we win those.

It is always tough, negotiating with a group of employers and this year, like all the others, the settlements are hard-won.
The Plastics this time delivers a lift in pay for the lowest paid workers. Delegate Tex Wilson says the sticking point was the need to really lift the wages at the bottom of the scale. When the minimum wage goes up, the going rate goes up, and this was a major focus of the bargaining.

“I’ve been to 12 different negotiations and this was the worst,” Tex says, while adding that the team got the best deal they could. “All the new workers will get a higher rate,” which he says they are happy with.

The Metals also settled, for one year, with pay rises of between 3% and 3.7%. There is a margin of 50 cents above the minimum wage in the lowest printed pay rates in the document.

Guaranteed hours fight at Woburn care homes

E tū members at neighbouring care homes in Lower Hutt have been taking on their bosses over guaranteed hours and 24/7 availability. As this magazine goes to print, members at Woburn Masonic are taking strike action over rostering they say is like the availability from now-unlawful zero hours contracts.

Woburn Masonic picket line

Delegate Jackie Crown says her shifts vary and she doesn’t know what shifts or days of the week she’ll be rostered on for. Like her workmates, Jackie doesn’t know from roster to roster what she might be earning, making it hard to pay the bills. It comes with a big personal cost, too.

“For me, I’ve missed a lot of milestones like birthdays and family occasions. I’m the one that’s not there. I even missed my father’s memorial service,” Jackie says.

Next door, Enliven Woburn caregivers face a similar situation with management cutting most members’ guaranteed hours and offering those same shifts back to staff, who must compete for the extra shifts to make up their losses – exactly what happens at Woburn Masonic.  Shifts could be at any time during the 27/4 operation of the facility.

Like Masonic members, Enliven members are taking action at work, signing petitions, wearing stickers and yellow ribbons, and winning the support of residents and family members. E tū is also taking court action, with a court date sought in early 2020.

The members are standing together, determined to win rosters that give them a life and protect the care standards of the residents.

Delegates drive winning deal at SkyCity

E tū SkyCity Auckland members have won a great new deal following pay talks this year which will have all staff earning a minimum of $20 per hour plus allowances from December 2020.

The biggest increases are for lower paid workers. Their rates will rise in December this year and twice in 2020, with overall wage rises of between 11% and 21.9% depending on the department.

Our E tū SkyCity bargaining team

Bargaining team member Pam Lanumata says the members are delighted, especially those on lower pay. Members like Pam, who already earn the Living Wage (currently $21.15) or above, got pay rises of 3% this year and 3% next year.

Pam pays tribute to her fellow delegate and former bargaining team member, Michelle Crooks, who pushed for the Living Wage at bargaining last year. Michelle describes the deal as “fantastic” and a step towards the Living Wage for all E tū members at SkyCity.
“They were ecstatic! And our tradies did really well too. They’ve been fighting for years to get their pay to reflect more what the industry gets,” Michelle says.

SkyCity electricians won a big lift in pay, after three days of strike action in September in support of their wage claims. Delegate Neil Fudger says once back in bargaining, the union and SkyCity worked to get an agreement. The members have won a pay rise of $4 an hour on paid rates, with an additional $1 an hour due to be paid this month.

“They’re pleased. It was a great team effort to get the matter resolved,” Neil says.

The members won a raft of other benefits, such as overtime of time and a half for all hours over 40 per week, which used to apply on weekends only. There are increases in the shoe and tool allowances and table staff will now have their uniforms laundered.

Also included is a 25% lift in the unpleasant duties allowance to $300 gross a year. Michelle says that’s thanks to long-time bargaining team member, Mina Chiswell, who sadly died during this year’s talks. “Mina was our cleaning services delegate and unfortunately unknown to us, she was unwell and she passed away during bargaining,” she says.

“Mina would fight like a tiger for our cleaners. She would be so proud! And we make sure when we talk about the unpleasant duties allowance, we talk about Mina. She really fought for that allowance.”

These great results reflect the solidarity of the E tū membership and bargaining team. “Yeah, we are quite strong, I think because we’ve been around each other for a very long time, for most of us over ten years, and we make sure we’re on the same page,” Michelle says. “If someone sees something wrong, we’re quite quick about having those conversations.”

IDEA settles

After nearly a year involving a marathon series of talks, strikes, mediation and facilitated bargaining, the IDEA Services collective agreement for support workers and administration staff has settled. Members ratified the deal in late October with 83% voting in support.

IDEA Services bargaining team delegates at facilitation

IDEA Services: sign of the times for members

“If you look back, we’ve beaten some of those claw-backs they wanted,” says Southland delegate Gordon Cambridge. IDEA Services has also agreed to work with E tū to lobby for more funding, “so both parties are talking which is a bonus. I think most people are positive.” he says.

There is a solid pay rise of 7.7%, including backpay for administrators and service coordinators and a pay rise for scheduling coordinators, who are covered by the agreement for the first time. There are also training and orientation wins for RIDSAS workers, who also won a new allowance of up to $70 a week.

The deal also sets out a process for the disestablishment of the senior support worker (SSW) role with a buy-out for two categories of SSWs due to be completed by 20 December. Our delegates remain unconvinced IDEA Services can effectively run its facilities without these highly experienced workers who shoulder big responsibilities.

Gordon says: “I think there’s a long way to go to see if what they’ve done with the SSWs works, and if in a couple of years, they’re not back in some shape or form. Watch this space. I think they’ll be back.”

You can find more details about the settlement here.

Assault on guaranteed hours

Two years ago, home support delegate Jenny Stewart was invited by the Access chief executive to Wellington to discuss improving the implementation of guaranteed hours. This was quite a contrast to bargaining this year, which saw Access aggressively seeking changes to the very good guaranteed hours rights and protections clause in the Access Support Workers Collective Agreement.

Jenny says the bargaining, which involved both E tū and the PSA, was “a tough six months fighting to keep the guaranteed hours rights and protections we already had. In the end we have kept those rights and going forward into 2020 we will be keeping up the pressure on Access to finally start complying with the guaranteed hours clauses in our collective agreement.

Access Support team support the Day for Decent Work!

“We need to build our strength to win better rosters, including proper guaranteed hours, so members have secure work,” she says.
The bargaining team was struck by how keen the employer was to keep the bargaining team delegates away from the bargaining table.

“We decided this was because the delegates voices at the table are persuasive.

“Because we do the work every day, we have real credibility and we could call Access out by providing the facts about the work we do. We need more delegates to support members winning at work so we hope some members out there will step forward to do this important work with us.

“Although the bargaining was hard work, we are celebrating having won additional sick leave for union members only,” Jenny says. “We are also looking forward to seeing the results of a ‘self-rostering’ trial which will be run next year. Home support workers are very isolated and we hope that this trial may help to find some ways where small groups of workers can support each other,” she says.

Union summer shines at Summerset

Hundreds of workers at retirement village operator Summerset are celebrating a ground-breaking deal which will lift weekend pay rates by 25% in the New Year.

The deal, currently being voted on by our members, means weekend rates will be paid at time and a quarter, replacing a flat rate of $1.20 an hour.

“Weekends are always a challenge for some staff, who have to spend time away from friends and family, so getting the extra pay is going to make a real difference,” says Taranaki delegate Marie Price.

As well as the weekend rates increase, the Summerset deal also sets a new industry standard for caregivers’ pay. They are covered by the five-year equal pay settlement but there is no increase scheduled next year. However, Summerset was smart enough to agree to a 1.5% increase from July 2020 for carers.

Whanganui delegate Pauline Mullins says her workmates are thrilled with the increase.

“Negotiations are never easy, but Summerset showed they were listening to their workforce,” she says.

“These retirement villages look good and are great for those who can afford them. But it’s the quality of the care that underpins the villas and apartments. It’s going to be a good summer.“

With Summerset now settled, E tū will be expecting other care sector bosses to match the deal. Watch this space.

Solidarity wins at Te Wiremu

Our members are still fizzing with excitement after their very first strike, at Gisborne aged care home, Heritage Lifecare Te Wiremu.
For nine months, the employer refused to bargain with them, then at pay talks in August, they offered nothing. However, the members weren’t prepared to take no for an answer. “Everyone had had enough,” Josie Culshaw says.

The members voted to strike, walking out for two hours a day over two days and hitting the picket line to get their messages across.
“It was the first strike for everyone, including me, and I’ve been there 10 years,” Josie says. She says the staff included “some very shy members” but on the second day, “they were dancing around with their signs! It was great.”

What’s inspiring is that this was a show of solidarity. Despite the caregivers having already won decent pay rises thanks to the equal pay settlement, they walked off the job to win better pay for the laundry, cleaning, and kitchen staff, who only earn the minimum wage. Josie says everyone onsite also supported them in a fantastic show of solidarity.

“The nursing staff and everyone else, even non-union, were there to support our cleaning and kitchen staff. It was that combined strength,” Josie says.

In the wake of the strike, with no response from the employer, the members voted to strike again, forcing the boss back to bargaining and eventually a deal was reached. The overall pay rise was 3.4% for most workers but it wasn’t just the money that mattered. The members won respect and showed the employer they will support each other for fairness.

Josie says the strike and the resulting victory have lifted spirits and built a real sense of solidarity among the staff. “Now, everyone supports everyone else,” she says. “We really pulled it off and we’re so proud of everyone. People are happy. Everyone was asking ‘when’s the next one?’”

Tasti members win satisfying deal

Our members at Tasti Products have stood tall in their fight for a decent pay rise, imposing an overtime ban during bargaining this year that went on for six months.

It was worth it. They’ve won an 18-month deal, with an across-the-board pay rise of 90 cents an hour, which is significant. The increase is back-dated to 2 July this year. As with many of our wage talks, the bargaining team was pushing for the Living Wage and that remains the ultimate goal.

Meanwhile, delegate and bargaining team member Thelma Henry says the result reflects the strength and solidarity on site.
“This is the best increase we have ever had here at Tasti and I have been here since 1993!” Thelma says. “Our members’ strength has delivered a great outcome for all of us.”

Sweet taste of success for Tasti members

Solidarity foundation of Sanford success

Our members at Sanford Bluff and Havelock sites are celebrating big wage rises following pay talks this year.

Our Bluff members have campaigned over several years for the Living Wage and that bore fruit at both sites this year, with increases our delegates call life-changing for many.At Bluff, this year’s settlement is a great step on the path to a Living Wage. Many received pay rises of 20%. Delegate Linda Bevin says new workers, who were formerly on the minimum wage, will start on $19 an hour and there’s a pathway to the Living Wage.

Sanford Havelock bargaining team: (left to right) Lavina Rickard, Dan Paget, Karen Solomon, Stu Borrie and Lynette Ashby

“It’s been a long haul,” she says. “They’ve been on minimum wage for a very long time. So, now there’s freedom to get groceries, you don’t have to choose between that and the power bill. It’s making a huge difference.”

At Havelock, members also won big pay rises at bargaining in November. As at Bluff, there’s a lift in the minimum starting rate from the minimum wage of $17.70 to $19 an hour. There’s a top rate of $25.50 for factory members and in the ropeyard, where workers have joined the agreement for the first time, wages lifted from a low of $17.70 to a starting rate of $21 and a top rate of $27 depending on skills and experience.

“That’s a huge increase. It’s life-changing for some people,” says ropeyard delegate and bargaining team member, Dan Paget, who expects his pay to increase by about $100 a week thanks to better pay and overtime provisions. “That’ll make a huge difference in my life,” he says.

Members are also keen to address the inequalities between the Havelock site hours of work, which set the ordinary hours in the factory at 48, and the ropeyard at 50, down from 55 hours. All other Sanford workers have ordinary hours of 40 per week.

The deal includes important union access rights, as well as paid time for the members to attend monthly Workplace Organising Committee meetings. A joint consultative committee of members and management has been established and there is a new tangihanga leave clause.

This is a great result at a site where an organising drive saw membership double since the last talks. “The delegates have worked hard and a lot of our members have done the recruiting as well,” Lavina Rickard says, who also pays tribute to Sanford Bluff members for the work they’ve done to lay the foundations for the deal.

“We must thank our Bluff members because they’re the ones who set the rates for us and did all the hard work,” she says.

Linda says moving Sanford to an accredited Living Wage Employer remains the goal, an issue that will be addressed again at bargaining next year. “We want a full Living Wage!” she says.