Editorial: Celebrating our democracy

Bill Newson, E tū National Secretary

Two men onstage at a forum with fists raised, the audience raising fists.

Bill Newson and John Ryall at the first E tū Delegates Forum, Wellington

Welcome to the latest edition of our union magazine, and thank you for being an E tū member. Being E tū is about being part of a strong, leading, influential union which stands up for working people and fights for a fairer deal at work and in society.

That leadership has been recognised in the award of New Zealander of the Year to E tū member Kristine Bartlett. Kristine is a modest, unassuming, tenacious and committed advocate for fairness and decency for working people. All E tū members can be proud of her achievement.

Our strength lies in our size, diversity and democracy, and this is a year of deep democracy for E tū. During March and April, our Delegates Forums and Industry Councils brought elected workplace delegates together across our regions and in our separate industry sectors to discuss the issues facing our members and what we need to do about them.

Our diversity is reflected in our representative structure which ensures we give voice to Maōri, pacific peoples, women and youth. Our Trades Reference Group ensures a focus for the skills, qualifications and industry issues across our separate industry councils.

We all know a key challenge is to be relevant to the workers of the future. I am particularly proud of our E tū Youth Conference which takes place in June, and I congratulate Emily Sheffield on her role as youth representative on our National Executive.

The highest expression of our membership-driven democracy is our Biennial Conference (meaning it takes place every two years). Our next Conference takes place on 4-5 July in Mangere, Auckland, and this year it includes the election of our Presidents.

It is also a year of democracy and positive change for our country. Our new Labour-led government is committed to changes which provide a fairer deal for working people and their families, and the proposed labour law changes detailed in this issue reflect that.

As National Secretary I am accountable to your elected Presidents, National Executive and Conference for the sound financial operation of the union and I am deeply conscious that it is our members’ fees paid out of their hard-earned wages that fund the union. Our auditor is BDO and they have praised our financial management.

Our membership fees do need to take account of rising costs and our agreed policy is to adjust fees by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measured to December each year. Accordingly, membership fees have increased by 1.6% from 1 April 2018.

We aspire to a better deal for our members and we are leading the way on pay equity, a Living Wage, a stronger bargaining hand through fairer government labour policies, safer workplaces, and providing a strong union voice for workers who are not yet in our union.

We continue to invest in being a union of the future with the roll-out of our more interactive E tū website and the MyPage members portal.

I close with a very special welcome to our new E tū members from the dance-floor of NZ Ballet. I encourage all members to think about attending a NZ Ballet production and support our talented fellow members.

Thank you again for your supportive membership.

E tū Delegates Forum, Wellington

E tū Delegates Forum, Wellington

E tū Delegates Forum, Wellington

E tū Delegates Forum, Wellington