E tū’s new worker-led health and safety programme

Workers’ voices will lead the way in E tū’s new health and safety programme for Māori, Pasefika, and migrant workers in manufacturing.

E tū Runanga Convenor Sharryn Barton says with the high rates of injury for tāngata whenua, she hopes the programme will provide an opportunity for workers to connect with their cultural values at work.

E tū members Augaaso Day Sepuloni (left) and Masi Uati (right) will be participating in the worker-led programme, along with E tū Food and Manufacturing Industry Council Convenor Gadiel Asiata

“Health and safety is based in manaakitanga, which means looking after people, your family, and the place you’re in. We need to recognise that we all have mana, and how well we look after others also determines our own wellbeing.”

Funded by the union and a Workplace Injury Prevention grant from ACC, the new worker-led leadership programme aims to address the high rate of workplace injuries among these groups in the sector.

Named Ngā Puna Whai Oranga, it begins with a series of hui for up to 150 members, from August to November, followed by workplace workshops until the end of 2021. E tū plans to continue the programme until 2027.

A worker in the manufacturing industry for 18 years and the Women’s Committee Convenor on E tū’s National Executive, Wheeti Haenga says she’s really excited about the course and rapt that ACC are supporting the programme – a “big stride forward” for Māori, Pasefika, and migrant workers.

“We’ve never had a mentor for Māori or Pasefika in my workplace, and I think this programme will really help to bring our people – particularly our young people – together.”

E tū Food and Manufacturing Industry Council Convenor Gadiel Asiata says the programme has been “long-needed” in the manufacturing industry.

“We don’t want just a ‘tick-box’ exercise or flyer-on-a-noticeboard-type approach. Instead, we need processes that are championed by both employers and employees, with strong worker role models,” he says.