Editorial: Bring on 2022

Bill Newson, E tū National Secretary

E tū National Executive

Welcome to this final edition of our union magazine for 2021.

It has been another challenging year confronting the global pandemic and I know that all members deserve to look forward to some form of summer break.

I acknowledge and thank all our E tū members who have worked in a wide number of essential and border-facing roles, serving the wider community so tirelessly during these worrying times.

I know that members elsewhere will join with me in acknowledging our Auckland members who have endured our longest lockdown.

We all need that summer break. When I was writing the introduction to the last edition of our magazine, I described the deep democratic structures of E tū and I was looking forward to engaging with members in our E tū Biennial Membership Meetings.

However, the lockdown forced us to cancel those nation-wide meetings. I am pleased to report that our union democracy has continued throughout the lockdown period with our National Executive, Industry Councils, Runanga, Women’s Committee, Komiti Pasefika, and Trades Reference Group meeting online.

During September, we held our Regional Representative elections online. I congratulate our North and South Island Vice Presidents, Mischelle Moriarty and Ray Pilley, and our Northern, Central, and Southern Region Representatives, Gadiel Asiata, Angelique Kerr, and Nikki Twine. My thanks and best regards to the other candidates who put themselves forward for election.

I look forward to meeting delegates in real life at our regional Delegate Forums next April and our Biennial Conference in July 2022.

We always understood that we were in a race between the Delta variant of COVID-19 and mass community-wide vaccination. E tū supports the vaccination campaign as part of a range of measures to maintain personal and collective safety.

COVID-19 is spreading, and it will be with us for a while, some say years. Community-wide vaccination is the key to protecting the broadest possible number of people as we manage the effects of continuing cases.

Union principles of collectivism and solidarity, and health and safety at work, support the union’s recommendation to members to be vaccinated if possible.

E tū is also concerned that the individual right of members to refuse a vaccination can have the consequence of potential risk to employment in some cases. Testing in law has so far upheld the requirement to be vaccinated in order to retain employment in mandated roles, and cases will continue to test the full impact across industries and workplaces.

Some people are fundamentally opposed to vaccination. For others, change and disinformation brings anxiety and hesitation. The union is here to help advise all members, and to make sure all members can get accurate information.

We finish a tough year with hope and aspirations to be “rebuilding better” in 2022, taking a strong stand for a wages-led recovery, decent jobs, and health and well-being.

We will continue to advocate for better wages and work conditions through Fair Pay Agreements, better protection against exploitative “dependent contracting” work arrangements, and health and safety representative rights, especially in smaller workplaces.

Our union has always looked to the future needs of working people, and I am proud of our union’s role in facilitating the Decent Work Summit: Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora, to be held in February 2022 and our Just Transition engagement in the Southland and Taranaki regions.

Members will be interested to read about our partnership agreement with the Murihiku Regeneration Project – made up of Ngai Tahu hapū – to ensure decent work outcomes in Southland well into the future.

Another tough year comes to a close and we stand together for a better year ahead.

Please take the time to read our magazine and, on behalf of our National Executive, I wish you and your families a safe and relaxing holiday period.

Thank you for being an E tū member.