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Our members in the corridors of power

This election has seen a whole new crew of E tū members elected to Parliament for the Labour Party. The new entrants come from diverse backgrounds and have experience from across community life in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Camilla Belich is an experienced employment lawyer who has worked for unions in Aotearoa New Zealand and in the United Kingdom. She has particular interest and experience in industrial relations issues such as pay equity, safe hours of work, and discrimination. Camilla is also interested in transport, clean water, and other environmental issues.

Barbara Edmonds is a specialist tax lawyer and a champion for her local community in Porirua. She has worked on some big government projects including contribution to the Government’s post-March 15 law reforms. She is well known in her local community for getting out there on the front line.

Ibrahim Omer was an E tū organiser until he was elected to Parliament. Originally coming to Aotearoa New Zealand as a refugee after fleeing war-torn Eritrea, Ibrahim worked as a cleaner at Victoria University, where he became a union delegate and Living Wage activist. Since then he’s been involved in all sorts of union and community campaigns, and takes his experience and passion for low wage workers and refugees to Parliament.

The other E tū members who have entered Parliament for the first time this year are:

Ayesha Verrall

Vanushi Walters

Naisi Chen

Rachel Brooking

Helen White

Barbara Edmonds

Angela Roberts

Shanan Halbert

Neru Leavasa

Tracey McLellan

Steph Lewis

Rachel Boyack

Arena Williams

Ingrid Leary

Sarah Pallett

Terisa Ngobi

Glen Bennett

Tangi Utikere

Anna Lorck

These MPs join other Labour and Green MPs who are already E tū members in Parliament, such as Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, and Marama Davidson. Having such strong representation in Parliament gives E tū fantastic opportunities to collaborate and to campaign for transformational change.

Beyond the election: E tū keeps moving

The election of a Labour Government gives the Aotearoa New Zealand union movement a fantastic opportunity to push our agenda as hard as we possibly can. As well as our policy priorities that we took to the election, E tū has a number of new policy areas that we will be advancing in our campaigning and organising over the next parliamentary term. On top of our election 2020 policy platform that included Fair Pay Agreements, extension of the Living Wage, and doubling sick leave, we have more to campaign for this term.

Social insurance

When workers in Aotearoa face redundancy, they often take a huge drop in pay when getting a new job. Without the luxury of time to take stock and consider their options – including possible retraining – they simply take the first job they can get.

At our conference we talked about a tool that could allow a more ‘Just Transition’ for people in this situation. Social insurance would provide a publicly run, universal entitlement to 80% of a worker’s previous pay for a period of up to two years. Funded by employers, government, and a small worker levy, social insurance would give people the time and space to find decent work, so they are not forced to settle for a new job at any price. Along with increased benefit levels, rights to redundancy compensation, and strong, industry-wide collective bargaining, social insurance could help to improve lives for working people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Social procurement

The Government is responsible for paying for all sorts of services, from massive infrastructure projects, to the wages and conditions of cleaners and security guards who look after public buildings. The process of deciding who will carry out these tasks, and negotiating the terms of the agreement they have, is called procurement. Traditionally, procurement is focused on the bottom line – trying to get services as cheaply as possible. This is short-sighted. It is no good to have a cheaper service if it means workers are on poverty wages, because that results in all sorts of social harm.

That’s why E tū is campaigning for “social procurement”, which means the Government taking a wider view about the wellbeing of the people doing the work, and how that affects society – not just how much the service directly costs year to year. A good social procurement system would include promoting fair and safe employment practices, ensuring security and protection for workers when services change hands, supporting employment for disadvantaged groups, supporting local business, and meeting national and international standards for ethical and environmentally sustainable business.

Rebuild Better in E tū industries

E tū developed the Rebuild Better campaign at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to set some fundamental principles for a recovery that keeps workers protected. The renewed direction of this campaign will focus on issues specific to our industries and sectors, and our union will be running new Rebuild Better campaigns in health, at the border, in property services, and beyond.

Our Rebuild Better campaigns are guided by these principles: prioritising community health and wellbeing, having workers’ wages lead the recovery, keeping and creating decent jobs, having union members involved in all decisions, and ending inequality.

Election 2020: A win for working people

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.

Editorial: What a year…

Kia ora E tū members,

Welcome to the final 2020 edition of our union magazine. You will find stories about our recent general election, our E tū conference, and various organising updates.

This has certainly been a roller coaster year with huge challenges, uncertainty, and stress for many of our members and your families.

I particularly acknowledge our members who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 business disruptions and those members who worked on the front line in essential jobs serving their fellow Kiwis during the heightened Alert Levels.

E tū has a clear view that we must “rebuild better”, with a focus on supporting working people in decent jobs with fair wages and conditions. We know that requires a government that is prepared to step up and step in with progressive policies for all Kiwis.

The “Red Tsunami” general election victory of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on 17 October was testament to outstanding leadership in times of crisis, confidence in economic and social stewardship, a forward-looking Labour Party policy platform, and a well-run campaign in which E tū members played a key part.

We will continue to assert a strong voice for our members to ensure that the Government delivers on its employment-related policies.

The clear lesson of COVID-19 is that we must improve the minimum sick leave entitlement and strengthen worker participation in health and safety in all workplaces.

We know that the way we set wages in this country does not work for workers. It doesn’t fairly redistribute the wealth that we create at work or address wage stagnation. Part of the solution to this is to extend the Living Wage and to put in place a relevant wages platform that sets a minimum bar for wages and conditions in each industry that all employers must observe. That’s what Fair Pay Agreements are all about.

Members with an interest in American politics would have followed the recent election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris closely. The election of a woman of Indian and Jamaican heritage to the Vice Presidency is an extraordinary achievement for American federal politics.

Outgoing President Donald Trump is an ungracious and bitter loser. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that he resonated with millions of working-class Americans who feel voiceless and have been harshly affected by neoliberal economic deregulation. Trump was no real friend to working people and he was never going to bring the rust out of their “rust belt”. But their desperation blinded them to his xenophobic deception and there are lessons in this that have been learnt before in the mid-20th century.

E tū celebrated our own democracy in November with elected delegates attending our Biennial Conference held over two days in Auckland’s Eden Park. This is our union’s highest policy-setting forum, and this edition of our magazine carries a full report.

I think we can all agree that this has been a weird year. Phrases like “COVID test”, “family bubble”, “lockdown”, “wage subsidy”, “social distancing”, and “you’re on mute” became a new common language.

Celebrating union power at E tū’s Biennial

We rose to the challenge of COVID-19 together in our beautiful South Pacific country and we have a Government that can steer and support us as we navigate the challenges ahead.

We can be confident, and proud, that our union engaged with, served, and represented our members well throughout that challenging period. We remain focused on, and committed to, what needs to be done to rebuild better in times ahead.

Thank you for being an E tū member and best wishes to all E tū members and your families on behalf of our Presidents and

National Executive for the summer holiday period.

Bill Newson
National Secretary


E tū National Standing Women’s Committee Conference: “He Korowai Awhina”

Our vision is to strengthen women’s wellbeing, their connection to whānau and all communities. The National Women’s Standing Committee invites all E tū women to express interest in attending a conference that is inspired by you and your wellbeing.

Date: 11–12 March 2021
Venue: Te Rongopai Marae, Lavenham Road,
RD2 Waituhi, Gisborne

E tū wāhine mā, E tū women of Aotearoa, E tū LGBTQI+ women, E tū Pasefika sisters, send your expressions of interest to by 5.00pm, 8 January 2021.

Please include your name, phone contact details, email and home addresses, employer, and industry details.

Accommodation, disability access, and transport will be provided for those selected to attend.

E tū organising

Uncertainty for workers across the aviation sector

Uncertainty is the biggest challenge facing E tū members in the aviation industry, as workers deal with the fallout from border shutdowns and flight cancellations across the world.

Border workers and ground and cabin crews are dealing with everything from redundancy to reduced hours, redeployment, and retraining, affecting up to 3000 members.

E tū delegate and cabin crew member Stacey Morunga, who will be back on her first international flight in August, says the cuts have been “brutal to say the least”.

“It was a massive loss of our workforce, and it’s really bittersweet for the ones who have remained. We’ve never been through anything like this.”

She says it’s difficult not knowing what will happen next, especially now the nature of international flying and tourism has changed so drastically, with air travel set back “decades” now that it’s for essential reasons only.

However, crew in the sector still remain heavily unionised, with 98% of those in widebody fleets a part of E tū, Stacey says.
“Crew know that they can lean on their union and that really means something.”

For E tū delegate and Menzies worker, Matthew Clarke, the changes meant his hours went from 45 hours a week down to just 4.5 hours.

Now, he is being made redundant as his department shrinks from 180 staff down to just 20. Around 30% are permanent redundancies, with the rest furloughed for up to two years.

Matthew, who once worked full-time as a frontline supervisor in passenger services, says it is enormously difficult not having stable employment.

“Flights may be 70% back to normal by the end of 2021, but how do we get from now to then? We’ve been caught in this position where there was very little we could do – except keep hoping that things will turn around.

“The emotional turmoil it’s caused us has been heart-breaking.”

Campaigning for mandatory staffing ratios in aged care

Equal Pay campaigner and former rest home carer Kristine Bartlett (left) and E tū delegate Sela Mulitalo (second from right) at the #safestaffingnow launch in Wellington

‘Deliver safe staffing for our seniors’ is the key message residents in rest homes and those working in the aged care sector are calling for this election.

On July 21, with the support of Grey Power, E tū and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) launched an open letter to Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, to push for mandatory staffing levels to ensure a minimum and increased ratio of carers to residents.

Aged care workers, E tū delegates, and MPs gathered at Woburn House in Wellington to kick off the start of nationwide actions for the #safestaffingnow campaign.

E tū delegate Sela Mulitalo says not having mandatory and adequate numbers of staff in rest homes and hospitals means poorer outcomes for residents and carers.

“For us, rushing around means that we do tend to miss a lot of things. Sometimes when we’re short-staffed, residents end up missing out on showers, for example,” Sela says.

“Residents feel rushed, like they’re not valued, but they don’t want to complain as they know it will fall back on us.”

Back in 2010, Labour, the Greens and Grey Power produced a joint report that recommended minimum staffing levels for nurses and caregivers become mandatory. However, they are still voluntary.

Sela says the needs of many residents are much more complex now, meaning their care takes more time and staff need more training.

With three-quarters of New Zealand’s COVID-19 deaths connected to residential aged care facilities, the urgency of the situation has only increased.

Go here to show your support for safer staffing.

Tiwai Point smelter workers need a just transition

E tū member Cliff Dobbie with delegate Owen Evans. Photo credit: Stuff Limited

E tū delegates met Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson after news of the proposed closure of Rio Tinto’s Tiwai Point smelter in Bluff.

In July, the company gave notice to terminate its contract with electricity supplier Meridian Energy in August 2021. The closure would mean around 1000 redundancies, as well as a flow-on effect to an estimated 1600 workers who will be indirectly affected in the local economy.

E tū delegate Owen Evans says the Government said there would be no more “handouts” to the smelter but there would need to be a transition plan in place for the region.

“I think the closure will be a lot harder than people think it will be. There are a lot of high-paid people at Tiwai. An extension would allow people not just to chuck in their job and take the first one that’s going, but to upskill themselves and go into something else.”

A lot of Tiwai’s current employees also have a trade, which may make transitioning a little easier if they go back to their old jobs, Owen says. Meanwhile, many workers are left in limbo to assess what their next move will be.

E tū has met with Rio Tinto to find out about timelines for the possible closure and members’ rights around redundancy, while advocating for a ‘just transition’ for members.

Temperzone protests gain community support

E tū delegate Pena Tamamasui takes to the megaphone at a Temperzone protest

The plight of Temperzone workers has caught the attention of the media and local community, as they protested for the right to their leave. During level 4 of the nationwide lockdown, workers at the South Auckland manufacturing company were asked to use their leave or go without pay.

This injustice inspired a strong response, with workers picketing several times a week, including in their lunchtimes, after work, and on weekends, outside the company’s premises during May and June.

E tū member Veenal Raj says except for two public holidays and two workdays, he was left without pay during the lockdown as he didn’t have any leave.

“Luckily, I did have a little savings, although I had to use them all. After we came back from the lockdown, there were a lot of people who had nothing left,” he says.

Veenal had to apply for a Jobseeker benefit, which was “nowhere near” his normal income level. The company did not apply the wage subsidy as promised until mid-May, around the same time it announced it would make 85 workers redundant.

E tū delegate Pena Tamamasui says he has been informed that leave will not be reinstated. However, E tū believes leave should be reinstated or workers compensated.

“Our members really want to see Temperzone treat them fairly and come to the party with their requests – leave and loss of wages,” Pena says.

Support for the workers has been “overwhelming”, with more than 12,000 signatures on an online petition.

Pena says: “I’ve been completely blown away by the amount of support, especially from local community organisations, that have turned up at the Saturday pickets – especially the youth. It’s been heart-warming to see their videos on Facebook.”

Personal grievance claims filed for Carter Holt Harvey workers

Northland workers at Carter Holt Harvey feel they’re bearing the brunt of their company’s ‘bad faith’ behaviour after they had to use up their leave during lockdown, before two-thirds of their colleagues were made redundant just weeks later.

In May, the company proposed to cut its production roles from 241 down to 77 at their Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) plant at Marsden Point, as part of a plan to abandon export sales and focus on domestic supply only.

Despite LVL receiving around $2.2 million in wage subsidies in the first week of April, workers had to use around two weeks of their annual leave during levels 3 and 4 of the lockdown or go without pay.

E tū member Steve Meredith says the company’s actions showed the “strongest case of bad faith operating”.

“It’s pretty disappointing that Carter Holt Harvey took a global pandemic as an opportunity to basically balance their chequebook when it came to their wages and outgoings.”

Steve says the redundancy process had also been problematic, with some workers who were kept on preferring to take voluntary redundancy to save their colleague’s jobs, while redundant workers faced losing their redundancy packages if they took up the offer of a new job before the end of their notice period.

“The company is unwilling to truly collaborate or communicate with us,” Steve says.

E tū is taking cases for Carter Holt members at Marsden Point, as well as in Tokoroa and Nelson, where leave was also harvested during the lockdown.

Home Support workers winning the fight for PPE

Home support worker and delegate Tarsh Dixon quickly got involved in a global campaign for adequate PPE

Home support workers in New Zealand became part of a global movement when they fought for their right to personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The #ProtectHomeCareWorkers campaign in conjunction with UNI Global Union saw E tū members making international links with support workers in Australia, the United States, Spain, Switzerland, and Ireland, to demand adequate PPE, decent pay, and respect for their work.

In April, a survey by E tū showed that more than half of the country’s workers in the sector lacked adequate PPE.
E tū delegate and Community Support Services Industry Councillor Tarsh Dixon, says it quickly became apparent in early March there were no adequate procedures in place to secure correct PPE, with orders in some cases not getting through until New Zealand had moved into level 3.

“In the beginning, masks were really scarce. At the time, I barely had 10 masks – all from jobs with previous clients.”
Tarsh quickly got organised with other home support delegates to come up with actions and plans, and the campaign for PPE was successful.

“It was really awesome being part of that, the whole movement, and just amazing having conversations with home support workers all over the world about how they were dealing with it, and then organising together for change. Our issues are the same worldwide,” Tarsh says.

While some members felt well supported by their providers during COVID-19, Tarsh says she still doesn’t think her provider has a robust pandemic plan in place.

“Some support workers are still quietly stockpiling PPE with their own money, but it should be delivered to us so we can just get on with our work.”

E tū is calling on the Government to increase funding to the home support sector, so workers have decent jobs with regular shifts, hours and income which don’t fluctuate all the time, fair pay for their travel, and proper paid breaks.

Easier for workers to assert their rights under new amendment bill

For rest home carer and equal pay campaigner Kristine Bartlett and female workers everywhere, the sun was shining in the wake of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill.

The amendment, which was passed at 11.59pm on July 23, will now make it easier for workers to raise a pay equity claim and help parties reach a settlement without going through the court system.

It’s welcome news for Kristine, a former rest home carer, who fought for years to secure the Care and Support Workers (Pay Equity) Settlement Agreement in 2017.

The settlement confirmed that the low rates of pay in the care and support sector were the result of systematic, gender-based discrimination. It led to a pay rise for those in the sector, later extended to mental health and addiction support workers.
Kristine, who is newly retired, says the new amendment “hits the nail on the head”.

“The sun is shining down on me today. Now those low-paid women workers can fight for their rights without going to court. We’ve finally done it in the year 2020.”

Kristine says although it took her a while to understand the case she was fighting, when she did, she wondered why it hadn’t been done “donkey’s years ago”.

“I’ll never forget the first pay on my site and the look on the workers’ faces when they got that pay increase – their whole lives changed.”

Win for Sistema workers after lockdown walk-out

Collective action was the key to victory at Sistema, a food storage container business, when all production workers were given four weeks off on full pay during the level 4 lockdown.

Unsatisfied with the lack of PPE and social distancing on the production line, workers staged a health and safety strike, walking off the job the day before the lockdown was due to start.

Sistema workers walked off the job over poor COVID-19 health and safety systems

E tū delegate Delphine Muraahi says the walkout was “chaos”, with workers initially being told they would need to use their annual leave if they didn’t want to come into work.

“It was all about health and safety at the time, because we were watching people dying of coronavirus, and we didn’t feel Sistema was taking it seriously,” she says.

However, after a visit from WorkSafe, Sistema confirmed workers would not need to report to work during level 4 and would not lose any of their wages or leave.

Delphine says on their return to work, the factory has been made much safer.

“They had everything: sanitisers, gloves, masks, hand towels, markings on the floor. They also made their own divider shields, which they put up between most of us.”

Listening to the voices of South Auckland to build better communities

E tū members and interns Matthew Clarke (left) and Simon-Peter Toleafoa (second right) with E tū president Muriel Tunoho, Te Ohu community organiser and E tū member Jo Vicente-Angeles, and Living Wage accreditation coordinator and E tū member Felicia Scherrer

A new ‘listening campaign’ is now underway to bring together the voices of the South Auckland community and learn about what matters to them.

There are nine interns, including two E tū members, working part-time for five months with Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga to find out which issues concern South Auckland communities most.

Hailing from South Māngere, E tū member Simon-Peter Toleafoa says mental health, particularly for youth, and financial literacy, are common themes.

“I’ve seen a lot of injustice in Māngere. Te Ohu is something I can do now for the community and add some input into making change.”

E tū delegate Matthew Clarke says so far he’s frequently spoken to parents wanting a better neighourhood for their children.
“We want to have a community-focused approach to work on those issues to empower them to make a real difference.”

Once the listening campaign is complete, Te Ohu interns, community leaders, and sponsoring organisations will come together to work out the issues of common concern and what sort of action to take.

Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga was formed in 2018 and is supported by Auckland faith, union, and community organisations to address the causes of poverty in families and communities.

Post-lockdown wins for New Zealand Post workers

Despite COVID-19, there have been significant wins for our members at New Zealand Post, where all workers will now start on a rate above the statutory minimum wage and the bereavement clause includes ‘whāngai’ (Māori customary adoption).

E tū delegate for the last 12 years, Missy Moreau says everyone is “ecstatic” about the results: “We got some good gains for our people, while keeping our collective intact. All and all, we came out of this agreement in a really good space.

“When we come into big gains like the ones we’ve gotten, we appreciate what it means to be part of a union.”

The bargaining team doing the hard yards back in March

Trust grant brings new organiser on board

Little did Gwyn Stevenson know when he started working at a dairy factory eight years ago that his role as a dryer operator would lead him into the world of unionism. The Balclutha local was based at a factory in Clydevale, where he worked on making milk into batches of infant formula.

During his first off-season, Gwyn noticed that his company was “giving us a run around with pay”. So, he decided to organise a meeting with the New Zealand Dairy Workers Union, with 25 of his fellow workers signing up in one go.

“Then the organiser said, at some stage, someone will need to step up and become a delegate. I didn’t have any idea what it really meant, but I said I’d give it a go, and found myself quite enjoying it.”

Now Gywn himself is training to be an E tū organiser, thanks to a grant from the Otago Southland Furniture Workers Union Trust.

Retiring organiser Mike Kirwood, along with Bob Batchelor and John Edie, established the trust, which is a legacy from the Otago Southland Furniture Workers Union, to support projects that would benefit union work in Otago and Southland.

So far, the trust has donated more than $20,000 to various union causes.

E tū’s new worker-led health and safety programme

Workers’ voices will lead the way in E tū’s new health and safety programme for Māori, Pasefika, and migrant workers in manufacturing.

E tū Runanga Convenor Sharryn Barton says with the high rates of injury for tāngata whenua, she hopes the programme will provide an opportunity for workers to connect with their cultural values at work.

E tū members Augaaso Day Sepuloni (left) and Masi Uati (right) will be participating in the worker-led programme, along with E tū Food and Manufacturing Industry Council Convenor Gadiel Asiata

“Health and safety is based in manaakitanga, which means looking after people, your family, and the place you’re in. We need to recognise that we all have mana, and how well we look after others also determines our own wellbeing.”

Funded by the union and a Workplace Injury Prevention grant from ACC, the new worker-led leadership programme aims to address the high rate of workplace injuries among these groups in the sector.

Named Ngā Puna Whai Oranga, it begins with a series of hui for up to 150 members, from August to November, followed by workplace workshops until the end of 2021. E tū plans to continue the programme until 2027.

A worker in the manufacturing industry for 18 years and the Women’s Committee Convenor on E tū’s National Executive, Wheeti Haenga says she’s really excited about the course and rapt that ACC are supporting the programme – a “big stride forward” for Māori, Pasefika, and migrant workers.

“We’ve never had a mentor for Māori or Pasefika in my workplace, and I think this programme will really help to bring our people – particularly our young people – together.”

E tū Food and Manufacturing Industry Council Convenor Gadiel Asiata says the programme has been “long-needed” in the manufacturing industry.

“We don’t want just a ‘tick-box’ exercise or flyer-on-a-noticeboard-type approach. Instead, we need processes that are championed by both employers and employees, with strong worker role models,” he says.

Massive Living Wage victories!

MSD guards finally win the Living Wage

Security guards who work for the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) across the country are thrilled today to learn that they will finally be moving up to at least the Living Wage of $22.10 per hour.

The Government announced in August around 400 guards will be paid at least the Living Wage from 1 September 2020. It comes after years of campaigning for public service workers who are employed by contractors to be paid at least the Living Wage.

MSD keep Work and Income offices across the country safe and secure. They are often posted outside Work and Income offices for hours at a time, in all weather. E tū member Robert Duston says it can be a hard job, but one he enjoys.

“I like being able to help less fortunate people have a good day and feel that they’ve had a good experience. Yes, the Living Wage has taken a long time, but I’m really happy the Government has recognised we’re worth it.”

Robert says: “It’s my 50th birthday next year and earning the Living Wage for me means that I can start saving to go on a holiday and not have to worry about paying bills along the way.”

E tū members call on Government parties to honour their Living Wage promise

In the 2017 general election campaign, all three parties that make up the current Government made a commitment to “support and promote changing government procurement policies to ensure that all contracted workers, who are delivering a regular and ongoing service to the core public service, move to the Living Wage within the next term of government”.

Despite this, many workers employed by contractors that deliver government services are still on the minimum wage.

E tū members put together a video outlining why getting the Living Wage is so important for them and their families. As E tū cleaner Robert Chong-Nee says: “I work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. I need to pay my bills. I need to spend time with my family and friends, but I can’t do that.

“I’m asking the Government to honour their Living Wage promise. Please, that’s all I’m asking.”

Auckland Council cleaners secure the Living Wage after a long campaign

After eight years of campaigning, Auckland Council cleaners have finally won the Living Wage. In July, the council voted to pass their emergency budget which means by the next council election in 2022 all our members will have moved to no less than the Living Wage, currently $22.10 per hour.

E tū has been a big part of this community campaign, and member Malia Langi is relieved and happy the Living Wage will now be a reality for her colleagues. A cleaner for six years, Malia says: “Now there’s no more worries. I feel relieved now it’s been passed – everything that we were working and campaigning for the past eight years.”

E tū members with government ministers at parliament to celebrate MSD guards winning the Living Wage