Editorial: Standing up for Decent Work

By E tū National Secretary, Bill Newson

E tū National Secretary, Bill Newson

Welcome to this latest edition of our union magazine. I hope you had the opportunity to observe our first Matariki paid public holiday in a special way on 24 June. The appearance of the Matariki cluster of stars in our night sky marks the start of the traditional Māori new year and it provides a unique time to reflect and look ahead.

Just like working people globally, E tū members have been experiencing the tough impact of increased inflation on already stretched family and personal living costs.

Notwithstanding the Covid-19-related disruption across some industries, the importance of a Living Wage as a minimum rate and wage increases that protect our incomes against inflation are more important now than they have ever been.

I acknowledge E tū members across various companies and industries who are standing up together for a fairer deal, including members at ETEL and Assa Abloy in Auckland who have taken strike action to improve their collective agreement outcomes.

It is in the tough times that we see the need for a safety platform of improved minimum employment conditions more clearly. E tū is leading a campaign to support Fair Pay Agreement (FPAs) legislation and stop the “race to the bottom” on workers’ wages. My
thanks to all members who supported us by writing submissions and appearing at the select committee.

We can judge how effective FPAs will be for working people by the well-funded campaign by employer interest groups to undermine them. A notorious example was the “fake news” by Business NZ claiming that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) had condemned FPAs, when in fact the ILO did no such thing.

E tū also has its sights on the issue of exploitative “dependent contracting” employment models that push all of the risk onto the shoulders of those who can least afford it, with little reward.

E tū and FIRST Union are working together on a legal challenge to the Uber driver contract model. The court case has just wrapped up, and we expect the result in the next few weeks.

We have also participated in a tripartite working group reviewing regulatory protection for those who miss out on basic employment rights and protections because they are deemed to be “contractors” when they are not, and we will be focused on achieving policy improvements with the Government.

In the last edition of this magazine, I reported that we were advocating for continued apprentice training support, and it was great to see our Government extend the Apprentice Boost programme in the recent budget. The strength of our union is reflected in the depth of our democracy and E tū has very deep union democracy. I acknowledge and thank our workplace delegates who attended our 2022  Delegate Forums, and attended the E tū Biennial Conference on 20 and 21 July, the highest policy making body in our union.

Conference brings together elected E tū representatives, who provide the voice of membership from across the industries, regions and diversity of our great union, to review the work of the union over the past two years and to look to the future.

Decent Work was the theme of this year’s E tū Conference. As industry rebuilds from Covid-19, productivity demands will compound the already escalating pace of workplace change driven by technological transformation and future decarbonisation of jobs. This conference was a defining event in staking our claim on what Decent Work should look like in that future of work.

At the conference, we also confirmed our new Co-President, Gadiel Asiata, who features in the member profile of this magazine. I also want to acknowledge our former Co-President Don Pryde, who served EPMU and E tū members for a long time. We thank Don for his huge commitment to our union and working people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In closing, I acknowledge NZ Steel Health and Safety Representative Lester Udy who was a top nominee for Health and Safety Representative of the Year at the recent SafeGuard Health and Safety Awards.

Covid-19 will continue to impact on health and well-being during the winter period and we need to remain cautious and practise the generally accepted health measures, including vaccination and wearing a mask where there is a risk.

Please take the time to read our magazine and, on behalf of our National Executive, thank you for being an E tū member.


E tū National Executive