Election 2020: A win for working people

Pelenatita Tangi, Sisi Palu and Latu Sao out campaigning

Young activist Caroline Iki

The result of the 2020 General Election is excellent for E tū members. The Labour Party had a decisive victory, winning a historic result with 50% of the vote and is able to govern alone for the first time in Aotearoa New Zealand’s MMP history. The Green Party returned to Parliament and increased their number of MPs.

Both these parties went into the election with strong policies for workers and E tū worked closely with them in our election campaign. The Government has a mandate for transformational changes in the workplace relations space, including the implementation of Fair Pay Agreements, the Living Wage for all workers employed by contractors in the public service, doubling sick leave, making Matariki a public holiday, and more.

Labour’s Mount Roskill MP, Michael Wood, who is an E tū member, has been made Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, putting him in charge of delivering many of the changes we need. Some E tū members will already know Michael Wood as a strong ally who made his commitment to our union and our priorities very clear both before and since the election. We congratulate Michael Wood, as well as the many other new and returning MPs who are E tū members and active unionists.

We know that politicians alone cannot deliver the changes we need at our workplaces and across our wider communities. That is why E tū’s election slogan was “Real change starts with us” – our campaigning, organising, and activism are essential ingredients for winning.

Lalopua Sanele making election calls to fellow members

E tū members participated in a spectacular election campaign. We made more than 13,000 phone calls collectively to ensure that our members were ready and equipped to vote. We held events across the country where members met with candidates and made sure our issues were at the front of their minds. We used our influence as a union affiliated to the Labour Party to develop and strengthen its workplace relations policies.

While the 2020 election is over, participating in democracy remains as important as ever. Our next priority is to make sure that the new Government holds to their commitments for working people. Whether it is the COVID-19 recovery and rebuild, the Just Transition in changing and evolving industries, or better wages and conditions for all workers more broadly, E tū members must stay involved in the fight for decent lives.

“It was a fantastic election result, really good. The best election since Norm Kirk. I’m the Deputy Chair of the Selwyn Labour Electorate Committee so I was in full campaign mode. I think the most important issues for the country are that the minimum wage needs to go up again, and addressing the housing crisis. You can’t have people living on the street – that’s just inhumane. It’s all about houses, houses, houses.”

Paul Taylor, cafe assistant, Rolleston

“It was an amazing election result, and I feel like I had a part in it. I was involved in the E tū phone bank, which was really user-friendly once you got up and running. It was a great way to connect with members and get them to vote. Top of my list are Fair Pay Agreements and the Living Wage – it’s so hard for people to exist without fair pay. We need something more sustainable. Now, they just need to follow through on their promises, and with Labour and the Greens, I think we’ll see that happening.”

Queenie Pickering, hospital caterer, Nelson

“During this election campaign, I had conversations with my colleagues, whaiora, and our community and made sure they were all enrolled to vote. We made sure that all our 18-year-olds were supported to participate and put their vote in. I supported the kaupapa by having a Labour hoarding on my fence. We would like to see the Government prioritising rangatahi mental health, housing, and child poverty. I’d like to see us reduce the inequities in both the health and education systems. We need to start having those challenging conversations about what the future of work, employment, and training will look like going forward as we grapple with COVID-19.”

June Sparkle, community support worker, Auckland

“It was absolutely excellent to watch that “Red Tsunami” as Labour came in, knowing that our union, E tū, and I myself, had a part in going out, campaigning, and making that change. Seeing New Zealand come in behind Labour and give them that mandate was fantastic. I made sure that I had Labour hoardings on my front fence (much to the annoyance of my right wing neighbours), and I did a bit of campaigning in my local electorate. I think the important issues are the Living Wage and sick leave but, especially for my family, it’s training for the youth. We need to make sure that they don’t lose hope. I really want them to legislate and cement some of the promises they’ve made, so we can carry on bringing better prosperity and conditions for our working people.”

Paul Johnstone, plumber, Christchurch

“I feel happy and excited about the election outcome. I helped out in the election campaign with some other E tū people in Avondale. Now, we need to get Fair Pay Agreements, 10 days’ sick leave, look after our grandchildren’s education, and of course, housing.”

Loto Lagitupu, cleaner, Auckland