Editorial: Bill Newson

By E tū National Secretary, Bill Newson

Kia ora, E tū members

Welcome to this latest edition of our union magazine, please take the time to have a read. You will find some great fellow members who project the diversity, strength and democracy of our union, and you will get important updates on our key campaigns.

The ‘Spotlight on our industry’ in this edition is aviation. I want to thank aviation delegates for the work we are all doing together in the interests of our members as the airlines rebuild out of the period of COVID disruption, and also express my appreciation to all of the new members joining E tū in the aviation sector.

The strength of our union is grounded in our deep union democracy, and I want to acknowledge our elected workplace delegates for attending and engaging in our recent E tū Delegate Forums, held in every region across the country in April and May. These were our first in-person Delegate Forums since COVID. It was great to get together again in person to discuss our membership issues and union strategies.

Democracy works best when everyone gets involved. All E tū members will be invited to attend our next big E tū democratic membership event, our Biennial Membership Meetings being held throughout September and October. As E tū members, you are encouraged to attend your applicable meeting to hear about important work-related issues and have your vote for important regional representative positions on our National Executive.

With the cost of living impacting on family budgets, it is important to be part of a strong union able to take action, when we have to, for a better deal.

As I write this introduction, I have received news that our members at Spotless and Wellington and Kenepuru hospitals have won their dispute to get their employer to sign their new agreement, on the eve of taking strike action. Sometimes it is the prospect of industrial action that ‘clinches the deal’ and I acknowledge all Spotless members for taking this principled stand.

E tū leads on wages with more than 700 collective employment agreements covering tens of thousands of members across a range of industries. Our multi-employer collective agreements (MECAs), such as those covering the metals and manufacturing industries, plastics industry, and health MECAs, connect members together for greater strength.

However, not all members are able to be covered by a good collective agreement, because of the insecure nature of the industries they work in. That’s where the new Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) introduced by the Labour Government come in.

E tū members can be proud that we are leading the way with FPAs, with our successful initiation for two FPAs – for cleaners and security guards – and our participation in a third, for hospitality workers. All members ultimately benefit from FPAs as international evidence shows a strong industry platform for minimum wages and conditions lifts wages and conditions across the board.

At the same time, our equal pay campaign is developing across the care and support sector as we begin negotiations to establish a rate that reflects the true value of the work of this predominantly female, essential workforce. You will find more detail about these important E tū campaigns in this magazine.

Fair Pay Agreements and equal pay are just two of the important policies giving us the chance of fairer wage outcomes that are at risk if there is a change of Government at the General Election in October.

All E tū members will recognise the benefit of the Government’s support for trade training with the extension of the ‘apprenticeship boost’ programme in this year’s Budget.

E tū also applauds the Government’s decision to subsidise $140m of the $300m electric arc furnace at NZ Steel. This provides important longer term job security to NZ Steel members and the economy of the local community. It also means an estimated 5.3% contribution to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2026-2030, which is good for all Kiwis.

This investment is an effective example of what can be done by a government committed to a Just Transition to protect the interests of working people and their communities, as climate change and technological transformation drive disruption.

E tū celebrates a new law change that gives all workers the right to Health and Safety Representative and a Health and Safety Committee, removing the 20 employee threshold put in place by the previous National-led Government.

And of course, we have all just celebrated our well-deserved Matariki paid public holiday break on 14 July – another Labour Government win.

Whether it’s more effective bargaining laws through Fair Pay Agreements, apprenticeship support, investment in a Just Transition, better health and safety rights, or our new paid public holiday, there is a lot at risk when we cast our votes. It’s simple really, E tū supports a Labour-led Government because Labour has the best track-record of supporting working people and their families.

Finally, a personal note – I emailed all members recently to let you know I am stepping down as National Secretary of E tū. Now is the time for change, and I have total faith in our leadership to keep taking E tū forward. Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh has been appointed by National Executive to be interim National Secretary for the rest of my term through to Biennial Conference in 2024.

It has been an honour and privilege to serve as National Secretary, and I want to thank and acknowledge all of our delegates and members who have made our union a strong, diverse, influential, and progressive force, standing up for the dignity and rights of working people.

Please read on, you will enjoy the fellow members you meet in this edition of our union magazine. Thank you for being an E tū member.

E tū National Executive