Archives: Articles


Next steps for Fair Pay Agreements

Another E tū campaign for better work conditions is in full swing!

Members are meeting with MPs across the country to discuss Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs), the Labour Party policy for national and regional industry-wide bargaining. The idea is to establish fair minimum pay and standards for whole industries, to avoid the ‘race to the bottom’.

In June, the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) launched a report that emphasised the role FPAs could play in making lives better for Kiwi workers. One E tū member who spoke at the launch, Mareta Sinoti, a cleaner at the National Library, explained that the inconsistency of pay across the industry wasn’t fair.

“I think the pay should be the Living Wage. We’re all cleaners but the only people who get the Living Wage are the parliament and council people, even though we all do the same job,” Mareta said.

Our security guards meet with Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway

“And we need more hours because if you get only one job and you’ve got a family, it’s difficult. Some people only get 6 hours – that’s not a full-time job, that’s a part-time job.”
E tū security guard Lavina Kafoa has pointed out that the dangers of working security require agreements that take health and safety seriously.

“You have to manage people and sometimes they don’t like being told what to do. Some people give you a hard time. Some people want to bash me. If they are drunk… it’s scary,” Lavina said.

“I work alone at night. Sometimes I have to beg the company to bring me a radio that works, or to send me someone to relieve me for a toilet break.”

Our security guards have also met with the Minister of Employment Relations Iain Lees-Galloway, to discuss FPAs and outstanding issues in the industry.

Get involved!

If you are a cleaner, security guard, or just anyone interested in FPAs, get in touch by emailing and join our campaign!

Your voice matters!

Local elections 2019

At E tū’s latest round of Delegate Forums, our elected workplace representatives shared what matters most to them and their communities.

At the top of the list were housing and the cost of living. These are issues that require everyone’s input to solve – especially our politicians. With local elections coming up, we need our issues to be front and centre. That’s why it’s crucial that you vote and get involved in your local elections.

With 55,000 members, E tū has the power to make real change in local elections. We have a proud history of success, including many different Living Wage wins across the country that are a direct result of E tū members and our campaigns fought alongside our communities.
Wellington security guard Wayne Richdale now earns the Living Wage, thanks to our campaign at Wellington City Council. He knows that union power makes all the difference in local elections.

“For me, the Living Wage is about being able to keep my head above the water,” Wayne says.

“Prices are skyrocketing wherever you look, housing, food, and transport, in particular. I feel for the families out there who are struggling. That’s why we all need to campaign for them to get a Living Wage.

“It makes all the difference.”

Farewell, John Ryall

We bid farewell to John Ryall, our Assistant National Secretary, who has retired after a stellar 42 years with the trade union movement.

John has stood with our members, their families, and their communities in their fight for justice, at the bargaining table, on the picket line, and in the halls of Parliament.

John knows members are the union and it is workers’ stories that give power to our collective voice. John is loved and respected across our union movement, holding a special place in the hearts of our members, especially Pasifika, tangata whenua, and health sector workers with whom he has worked so closely.

John’s astonishing record of court wins and imaginative new ways of organising has made him a trade union legend, his member-led kaupapa honed during years as a delegate, then later an organiser with the Hotel and Hospital Workers Union, where he began his career as an official in 1982.

John was instrumental in the equal pay court case with Kristine Bartlett, which eventually resulted in the more than $2 billion settlement for care and support workers. This is one victory among many. John’s strategic thinking steered the union to many wins despite hostile governments. He was central to the recent success for in-between travel payments, sleepover pay, guaranteed hours for home support workers, and basic rights for labour hire workers.

John initiated the conversation in 2011 about the Living Wage as a mechanism for putting pressure on government, which funded the poverty wages of so many of our members. He remained part of its governance as it became an independent movement of civil society organisations and a game changer for decent wages.

“The thing was to get unions to take a wider approach to winning support, to modernise by looking beyond their worksites, and to embrace their communities, including their churches, their wider whanau, even their sports clubs,” says E tū President Muriel Tunoho.

In 2019, John concluded his role on the Government’s Fair Pay Agreement Working Party, which is advocating for a return to minimum industry or occupational group standards and now E tū will take up the baton to campaign for legislation and implementation.

John’s belief in the merger of our two big private sector unions was critical to our success as E tū and he leaves us with a vision, with hope, and with an organisation in good heart.

John’s lifetime of commitment to the working class of Aotearoa will continue and the friendships and alliances will remain. While he is retiring, he has told us he is still here to help. So, John, our hope is that we’ll still be standing tall with you, as we campaign for the Living Wage, for equal pay, and a fair deal for our members. Enjoy your retirement – you’ve earned it.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari taku toa he toa takitini.

My strength does not come from the individual, instead it comes from the multitudes.

Put your hand up to be active

“E tū will be known not just because of the quality of its bargaining and its campaign outcomes, but by the means it achieves these outcomes, a union that is constantly activating and mobilising its members collectively to grow the union’s membership and power.”

 – E tū founding document 2015

In September this year E tū has a month of Biennial Membership Meetings for our elected National Executive to report directly to our membership on the progress of our union goals and our priority plans for the future.

The hundreds of Biennial Membership Meetings (see pages 17-21 for details) are not just an opportunity for all members to have a say and to hold our union leadership to account, but also to become more involved in our union campaigns for the Living Wage, pay equity, industry or occupation-wide Fair Pay Agreements, and for an economic framework that supports workers whose jobs are changing.

If you want to put your hand up for these campaigns, or to become active in our Runanga, Komiti Pasifika, Women’s Committee or Youth Network, then put your name down at your meeting.

The union has 130 staff and about 3000 workplace delegates, but if we are to make big gains for our members, their families and communities, we need to increase the number of our member activists tenfold.

We mobilised our members in 2017 to elect the Labour-led Coalition Government and have won higher minimum wage rates, more paid parental leave, and greater rights to negotiate collective agreements. However, change is still frustratingly slow.

We know that we cannot simply elect the Government and expect them to deliver everything for us. We must keep organising and mobilising around the policies that we want to see delivered, whether it is improved wage rates, better housing, decent public transport, or any number of other issues important for our communities.

Our September BMMs happen just before the local elections. This presents us with an opportunity to cement in the council Living Wage policies in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and to extend them to other cities and towns where the right to a Living Wage for workers is not yet on their agenda.

In a few cities we have some outstanding E tū members standing for election to councils and District Health Boards, including mayoral candidates Justin Lester in Wellington and Campbell Barry in Hutt City. We already have groups of volunteers who will be contacting our members in these areas to encourage them to support E tū candidates.

E tū is about developing member leaders, who take the union message outside of their workplaces into every local and national forum that we can.

It starts with attending your local Biennial Membership Meeting, making the decision to become more active, and putting your hand up.


Getting workers home safe and healthy

WorksafeReps is owned and operated by the Workers’ Education Trust, established by the PPTA, PSA, RMTU, NZNO, DWU and the NZCTU to provide education courses in health and safety at work.

To book a course, or for more information:
0800 336 966

Joining online is here!

New members can now join E tū online! Our new system doesn’t require a physical membership form to complete the registration process. Encourage your workmates to join us in E tū today, by signing up here.

E tū democracy

Our democratic committees and networks are at the heart of our union’s democracy. If you’d like to get involved, please send and email to the convenors:

Women’s Committee – Wheeti Haenga

Te Runanga – Sharryn Barton

Komiti Pasifika – Sally Mulitalo

Youth Network – Emily Sheffield

Trade Reference Group – George Hollinsworth

Union Support

If you need any support or advice about issues at work, contact Union Support to speak with an organiser.

0800 1 UNION
(0800 186 466)

Marianne latest Life Member

Congratulations to our newest Life Member, Marianne Bishop!

Marianne, an aged care support worker and long-time E tū activist, received her award at the Delegate Forum in Wellington last month, with Marianne winning the accolade of a standing ovation from her fellow delegates.

It’s a testimony to 30 years of outstanding union service, although Marianne says she’s the one who feels honoured. “It was very special. I’ve seen lots of other people receive Life Membership and felt very proud of them. I never thought it would be me. It’s a privilege.”

Marianne says her union work is driven by a compelling sense of justice.

“I’ve always had a strong sense of right and wrong and once I’d decided what I thought about something, I wouldn’t back down on my principles. It was about justice.

Marianne has represented E tū at public events, parliamentary submissions and most recently, as opening speaker at the InSafeHands campaign launch. She admits it can be scary, but says it’s also a highlight of her union work. “Just seeing changes go through that you’ve talked about, it makes you feel good you had a say, that you’ve contributed, instead of letting others do all the work,” she says.

E tū organising

Challenging behaviour at IDEA

Seven months into bargaining for a new collective,a second wave of strikes by 3000 union members at IDEA Services, the operational arm of IHC, is due to start this month.

In nationwide ballots, support workers voted overwhelmingly for up to seven separate strikes to reinforce their message to IDEA.

Bargaining team members Gill Moore from Northland and Gordon Cambridge from Southland were among hundreds of members who went on strike for four hours on 1 April, and are ready to do so again.

“Every day we go the extra mile for the people we support at IDEA, but management seems to have closed their ears and eyes to our concerns,” says Jill.

Gordon agrees. “IDEA staff are incredibly loyal to the people they support. But we don’t see that returned by IDEA.”

The dispute was initially about pay, with delegates pushing to restore $22 million of seniority margins as well as weekend and overtime rates axed by IDEA in the 1990s. However, when members reduced their asking price for weekend work, IDEA said it wasn’t about the money.

“They’ve told us this is about the principle that weekend work was the same as working Monday to Friday,” says bargaining team member Anushiya Sethupathy. This has angered many members. As the weeks have unfolded, IDEA has also pushed hard to try and force workers to move between worksites.

For many, the last straw has been a claim by IDEA to gut hard-won health and safety rights.
Bargaining team member Nic Corrigan says one of the big dangers at work is client-initiated violence, also known as ‘challenging behaviour’.

“We have repeatedly asked for a conversation around safe staffing, and management’s solution is to remove the reference to clients altogether. That’s what I call ‘challenging behaviour’!” says Nic.

During the bargaining, delegates tabled three respected surveys that highlighted the levels of workplace violence over the last 20 years. IDEA has yet to respond.

Fuji Xerox targets members

Fuji Xerox members are standing strong, determined to settle their collective agreement, with back pay, as Fuji fights back with anti-union tactics and the targeting of our members. Several have faced disciplinary action in the wake of five full days of strike action in March.

The strikes, which included a picket on a cricket pitch, are a measure of how strongly the members feel after Fuji Xerox offered a tiny 2% pay rise, which they refuse to back-date to July last year when their collective agreement expired. It is now close to a year since they have had a pay rise, and the nub of the dispute is a claim for back pay for 2018.

Fuji Xerox strike

With talks at stalemate, in April our members sought mediation. Fuji Xerox has dragged its feet, but members hope to meet this month.

“We want to be able to talk to our employer, to get an acknowledgement that pay offers have been too low. Not just this year, but all the time. We want 2% for 2018 and 2% for 2019. That means we’re owed back pay,” says delegate Rav Kumar.

Meanwhile, union members allege Fuji Xerox has been acting in bad faith, discriminating against union members by offering higher wages to non-union members.

That doesn’t deter Rav: “We’re all standing strong. We believe in the union for getting fairness into our workplace.”

It’s clear Fuji Xerox expects its workers to pay the price for its own scandalous losses through accounting irregularities – a massive $285 million dollars worth! In 2017, the company was banned from holding government contracts, which at the time were worth about $70 million. That ban has been lifted and cash flow is also improving. It’s a sign of a return to financial health, so the workers deserve their fair share.

Renewal for big manufacturing MECAs

Members covered by the Metals and Plastics Multi-Employer Collective Agreements (MECA) are being urged to get involved in the campaign to improve both agreements. Members met earlier this month for mass meetings in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to endorse claims ahead of bargaining in June and July.

The two MECAs are the primary industrial documents for members in the manufacturing and engineering industries. Both documents expire this year.

Training modules have been reviewed and payments for qualifications are under review now. Delegate Peter Heatley says the goal is for the two agreements to include the best of both documents.

He says a key focus is upskilling the workforce. “We’ve got to become more skilled at what we do because it’s not just good for workers, it’s also good for the industry.”

Peter says there also needs to be recognition of any extra qualifications gained by the members. “As you go up the scale, payments need to increase. That’s important.”

We’ll have more details on these key negotiations as they progress, on Facebook and our website.

DHB MECA money chase by members

Hutt Valley DHB members with their petition!

Our public hospital members celebrated when the new District Health Board (DHB) Multi-Employer Collective Agreement was ratified last December, meaning big pay rises. But it has been hard work for many getting the money after some DHBs proved to be tardy payers.

Back in February, our members at the Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs decided they’d waited long enough. They launched a petition calling on the DHBs to pay up! After all, members at the Auckland DHBs – the country’s largest – were paid within weeks, so why the wait?

Long story short, everyone signed: orderlies, kitchen workers, and cleaners. The petition was presented to Human Resources and the response was swift. A letter went out to members with an apology and a date, 28 February, for the new pay and back pay. Great work, everyone!

Cleaning member Renna Whatuira-Tangipo is proud of what she and her workmates achieved.

“I felt relieved to know what was going on, because we’d had no information whatever, especially when other DHBs had their pay. We’re just really excited that it’s finally been done, and we have been recognised.”

Cleaning supervisor Maria Turahui is proud of her staff, and says when it comes to the union, “they’re solid!”

Meanwhile, OCS, the hospital contractor for the Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay DHBs, refused to settle, saying the DHB hadn’t guaranteed the money. The DHB denied there was any problem. To break the stalemate, members voted to strike!

Wairarapa delegate Kerry Hargood says he and his co-workers thought the money would be paid out by Christmas and feelings were running high: “A lot of people were desperate for the money,” says Kerry. Then, with the strike just hours away, a proposed settlement was reached. Kerry says his co-workers were delighted. “Even the doctors were high-fiving us!

“It was a great effort from the team. It was a lot of stress on people and the relief hasn’t come soon enough for some of my workmates,” he says.

For Kerry, the big treat is new shoes: “Not $20 shoes, not $30 shoes. I’ve got size 15 feet and I have to order them; they cost about $200.00. I’ve never been able to afford something like this. That, and a new raincoat,” he says.

The last to receive the back pay were our members working for hospital service contractor, ISS at Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Southern and West Coast DHBs. At Easter they were still waiting, so they also organised petitions which were sent to all ISS senior managers with messages about the hardship payment delays were causing.

Within hours of receiving the petitions and a letter from our legal advisors, ISS agreed to pay the back pay at the next pay day. Now that’s a result!

Unsafe staffing campaign launched

A survey of E tū and NZ Nurses Organisation members has revealed both the despair of carers and the poor quality of care for many residents as a result of understaffed care homes.

The survey results are included in the report, In Safe Hands, officially released at the launch of the Insafehands campaign in March. This calls for a review of current, voluntary staffing standards, and for higher mandatory staffing levels.

The report shows just one in ten staff believe their rest home is staffed for quality care, with many carers worked to exhaustion as a result of heavy workloads.

Caregiver and delegate Ronnie Smith, who attended the launch, says many carers, particularly on dementia wings, are going without breaks. “They’re finding it very stressful. Residents aren’t getting as much quality time as you’d like to give as you have to go through things so quickly.”

The report says care is often rationed, with residents missing basic cares such as regular showers. Residents also ration their own care. In one tragic case, a man died of a wound infection because he didn’t want to bother his carers. Members in some facilities report staffing by just two carers for up to 60 people, on some shifts.

“If we had safe staffing it’d be so much better for the residents and for staff. They wouldn’t get sick and stressed, and mistakes happen too,” says Ronnie.

Meanwhile our members are distributing postcards urging safer staffing ratios, with families and friends asked to send these to MPs to give the campaign a push.

“I’ve got everyone to sign the postcards and get them sent out,” says Ronnie.


Auckland Council still a Living Wage target

Malia Lagi, delegate and Auckland Council cleaner, helps clean the 13 floors of the Auckland Council building, including Mayor Phil Goff’s office. As a council contract cleaner, she earns just above the minimum wage. By contrast, her directly employed council workmates all earn at least the Living Wage.

“We clean each floor, day and night.” Malia says. “We do the same job as other cleaners but they earn the Living Wage and we don’t. It’s not fair. Our pay is not enough for our families to live on. That’s why it would help my situation if we had the Living Wage.”

At the launch of his 2019 election campaign, Mayor Phil Goff said a Living Wage for contracted workers was on his agenda for the next term.

With local body elections this year, the Living Wage will again be a campaign focus for E tū right across the country.

Malia says costs are rising, and like all parents, she wants to be able to support her children’s education and maybe even own a house one day. She’ll be out campaigning for and promoting candidates who support the Living Wage for council contract workers like herself.

“It is important to get out and to campaign for that. I will be happy to do that, to push more, to make people think about what we need.”

2019 Living Wage rate unveiled!

Seashore Cabaret in Petone, Wellington, a new accredited Living Wage Employer, hosted this year’s announcement of the 2018/19 Living Wage. The Living Wage has risen to $21.15, an increase of 60 cents.

It’s good to see another hospitality employer joining the list, as this is an industry which generally pays very low wages. These businesses are among the loudest critics of increases to the minimum wage, though they also complain they can’t find staff. Spot the connection!

By contrast, Seashore Cabaret workers earn the Living Wage, helping the business with attracting and retaining staff, along with other benefits. The owners also say they’ve made a profit from day one. It’s something other businesses could learn from.

Taranaki embraces Just Transition debate

This month Taranaki hosted the inaugural Just Transition Summit, marking the beginning of a national debate on the pathway to a low emissions economy. Ahead of the Summit, our Taranaki members helped shape the debate in the region, where oil and gas have long underpinned the local economy, supporting jobs and a host of businesses and industries.

“The local community is embracing the Just Transition message,” says Toni Kelsen, E tū delegate and energy consultant.

“Oil and gas have been good to Taranaki. It’s been good in terms of work. Now it’s about providing a good future for our kids. It’s about my grandchildren, that’s where I’m coming from.”

As a soon-to-be first-time father, delegate Sean Hindson also feels an urgency about the future.

“Oil and gas – we still need it for the moment. But that will change,” he says.

“We’re still in a talking phase, but I’m looking forward to some substance coming out of that and I’m hoping all of our work will be taken on board. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were trailblazers globally and people took this and ran with it? It’d be brilliant,” says Sean.

Just Transition photo-shoot: Toni Kelsen

Tyrell Crean, local delegate and Central Region Representative for E tū’s Youth Network, also reports a positive mood in the pre-summit workshops and community hui: “They all want change to happen and it’s good to see all the positivity. There are young people involved and there will be heaps of support for this to continue. There are a lot of good ideas about what should change.

“People are thinking about the future,” he says. “As mentors, we’re the ones who have to drive it for the next generation. I want it to turn out well for my kids.”

Toni is a big believer in a few simple things done well, like public transport for school kids, so there are fewer cars on the road. “Normally it takes me 20 minutes to get to work. During the holidays, it’s ten minutes. And there’s usually just one child per car.”

For Tyrell, a priority is a more flexible and affordable industry training system. He says cost is a huge barrier to education and training.

“At the moment if you want a new pathway, your job turns into a training wage and that stops people. It comes down to money and if it’s affordable, people will do it.”

Sean says the debate is unlocking people’s imaginations. “This Just Transition thing, I love it.
I love being part of it,” he says.

All of our delegates agree that we can’t keep doing things the same way we have been for decades. “It’s just not sustainable,” Toni says.