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Member profile: Shine a light on ignorance, says Mobeen

According to his official records, member Mobeen Khan’s name is Michael. It’s what he was called when he started school, because his real name was too foreign.

“I was given an English name,” Mobeen says, “and it’s actually been put on everything with my name on it. My name wasn’t English enough.” Aged 5, he learned he was ‘other’ because he’s Muslim.

Mobeen knew four of the 50 people murdered in the Christchurch mosque atrocity, which remains a deeply personal loss. However, he wasn’t surprised. “I saw this coming,” he says.

He’d done an informal survey of how people responded to the word Muslim: “The next word would be ‘terrorist’.”

He believes media reports linking Islam and terrorism is one reason why.

“The name of the religion has been hijacked. What the terrorists do is abhorrent, but people have literally made the connection by osmosis.

“Muslims have been here for over 100 years. But after 9/11 and all the finger-pointing started, I got an anonymous phone call saying, ‘We’re going to get you for that’.”

He is grateful for the support of New Zealanders following the Christchurch tragedy and says the union responded “brilliantly”. However, while New Zealanders have rallied in huge numbers in support of our Muslim community, ugly messages of hate and bigotry have also emerged.

“All the negativity that’s bubbled to the surface, rightly or wrongly, we now have to deal with it somehow,” says Mobeen. “If we don’t, we can’t move forward.”

Delegates at our recent Delegate Forums said racism must be called out in workplaces wherever it occurs, and Mobeen agrees. “It’s a start,” he says, but it’s not enough. He says ignorance about Islam is a huge problem.

“It can be wilful or unintended, but it destroys our democracy and our humanity. If you say the ‘other’ doesn’t belong or doesn’t have to be here, that’s not democracy. It’s up to each and every one of us to make it better. Because we, as a community, have paid with our dearest blood.

“There are lovely, beautiful people here, but if you scratch that thin veneer of civilisation, you don’t know what you’ll find. If people want to know us, the hard questions have to be asked and they have to be answered,” he says.

Mobeen’s formidable grasp of history shines a bright light on the stereotypes and bigotry which allow people to view Islam through a distorted lens. His message is that knowledge overcomes the darkness of ignorance.

He harks back to the great civilisation of the Moors, from 711 to 1492, when Muslims ruled an empire remarkable for its learning, and tolerance for other religions.

“If the Muslims back in the day in Spain could work together with all the groups and religions, why can’t we do that? We need to make the time to know each other better,” he says.

Christchurch terror: the aftermath

Member’s sky-high hug

It was the hug that made world headlines after a photo of the Prime Minister comforting a woman at a Wellington mosque was beamed onto Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building.

The woman was then E tū member, Naima Abdel. After a week of shock and fear, she’d come to the Kilbirnie mosque to sign up as a volunteer, “and then Jacinda turned up.”

“She was very comforting. It was a really emotional morning. Everyone was hugging and crying. Every new face meant new tears. [Jacinda Ardern] was just a part of everyone else, crying… she held me really tight and she said: ‘We will go through this together,’ and it was just so comforting and amazing.”

Naima believes New Zealand’s “amazing and heartfelt” response to the tragedy brought healing and that many Muslims feel more secure here. “People have felt able to walk around as part of their community,” she said.

E tū crew support police

Chef and E tū delegate Jodi Haua heads the Compass/ESS catering team at Burnham Military base, which has catered for about 300 police and soldiers who have come from all over the country.

“We were all with the Muslims. The nation had their best interests at heart. Our job was to support the police and soldiers, providing breakfast, lunch, tea, and accommodation.

“We could see the emotional effects on the police and the strength they needed to get out there and fulfil their job and we also saw how draining it was on them, to witness what they did. But they came back to comfort food and that gave us satisfaction. The police thanked us every day for what we did.”

Hope amidst grief

Taranaki delegate, Sean Hindson, who is a member of E tū’s Just Transition team, is expecting his first child and it’s given him a fresh sense of urgency about action on climate change. He notes that the mosque massacre occurred the same day as student demonstrations against climate change. For him, the protests are a sign of hope amidst the despair.

“While you had this guy full of hate and violence, the youth and the future were peacefully protesting for the good of everyone. The world isn’t full of hatred. It’s full of compassion and caring.”

Delegate Forums put members in the driver’s seat

Our annual round of Delegate Forums have just wrapped up, with thousands of E tū delegates converging up and down the country to discuss union and workplace issues.

The jam-packed agenda included a listening workshop, giving delegates the opportunity to discuss what is important for themselves and their workplaces, families and communities. The feedback will inform our union’s democratic decision-making at the highest levels.

Cost of living was a significant concern for many of our members. With skyrocketing rents and poor wage growth across many sectors, delegates like Paula O’Reilly said we needed action now.

“I’m thinking of how people can’t afford to make ends meet. We need the Government to think of the ones on low incomes before the ones on big incomes,” Paula said.

Delegate Forums began just after the Christchurch atrocity, which remains heavy on our hearts and minds. Wellington delegate Kadin Smith shared some tips about addressing intolerance in the workplace.

Linda Bevin

“When you join a union, you understand it’s not about you. It’s about everybody, being inclusive of everyone’s background, their beliefs and in the workplace,” Kadin said.

“As a delegate, you set the precedent of how you want the union to be, and the work culture, whether it’s having a conversation with a friend, or writing a letter, or saying something discreetly to someone. It’s about acting, because silence is also an action and we want to be on the side where you’re fighting bigotry and you’re fighting racism.”

As local elections are just around the corner, we invited local candidates to each Forum. The candidates, many of them E tū members themselves, gave us their pitches and encouraged delegates to get involved.

Linda Bevin, Invercargill delegate and local Living Wage community leader, called on her candidates to support the payment of the Living Wage for all council workers. Linda knows the power of a union community standing together, as she plays a leading role in campaigning for Bluff to become New Zealand’s first Living Wage town.

All E tū members can now look forward to our Biennial Membership Meetings, which start in September this year. This is another chance to get involved with union decision-making and other activities.


In remembrance

Mohamad Moosid Mohamedhosen

Our union remembers Mohamad Moosid Mohamedhosen who died in the terrible attacks on the two Christchurch mosque attacks on 15 March. Mohamed was killed in the attack on the mosque in Linwood.

His family has provided a moving testimony to Mohamad which you can read by clicking here. It reveals a man who came to this country seeking peace and adventure. Well-liked by all who knew him, his family describes him as “an idealist who stood for fairness, justice and perfection” – values we share. We are proud he chose to join E tū and we send our condolences to his family as well as our thanks for sharing details of Mohamad’s life with us.

Vale Neil Couling

E tū life member Neil Couling has passed away after illness. Neil was an Engineers Union, EPMU and E tū delegate at Kinleith Pulp and Paper Mill since 1981. He was an EPMU National Executive member and Senior Vice President. E tū National Secretary Bill Newson said that Neil “played a key governance role as his union faced the challenges, changes and transformations of strategic unionism. At the heart of his hard-working consideration and input was the respect and dignity of working people.”

Our condolences to his wife Aroha and to all Neil’s family, friends, and union comrades, particularly to Neil’s daughter, Stand Up Co-convenor and NZNO organiser Christina Couling, and son in law, E tū organiser David Kennedy.

Editorial: Pride and sorrow

Welcome to this latest edition of our union magazine and thank you for being an E tū member.

As I write this, I am aware that many of our E tū whānau are still struggling with the sorrowful aftermath of the deadly assault on the two Christchurch mosques on 15 March, which resulted in the deaths of 50 Muslim men, women, and children. This has rocked the city and indeed the country, as witnessed by the powerful public response as tens of thousands of people turned out for vigils and services to show their support for our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Our members are no exception. This tragedy has touched our union in a personal way. Firstly, I want to acknowledge E tū member Mohamad Moosid Mohamedhosen, who was among those murdered in this terrorist attack on people at prayer. Other members and staff have also been directly affected by this atrocity.

I write with pride as well as sorrow. In this issue, you will read about our members who have been working to support the many services involved in dealing with this tragedy. I would like to thank our E tū members at the hospitals that have worked around the clock to make sure the victims get the best care possible. This includes security, orderlies, cleaners, food service workers, and trade staff. Others have provided support for the emergency services working in the wake of the atrocity.

The tragedy and the country’s response was fresh in the minds of our delegates who turned out in strong numbers to our 21 Delegate Forums around the country last month. The Forums observed a minute’s silence in commemoration of those murdered and injured, and we have been discussing what we can do as a union to call out racism and bigotry to ensure all working people feel included and respected at work.

I believe New Zealanders have a keen collective sense of respect, tolerance, dignity, and a fair-go for all. This has really shone through in our nation’s response. I have also received a huge number of messages of support from across the global union movement, expressing the solidarity of working people across the world.

As we respond collectively, this is surely a reminder that we are at our best when we work together in union. Our strong delegate network is testimony to that. They are at the heart of our strongly democratic union.

It is important the Government continues to deliver policies which improve your working lives. Meaningful lives with decent work and pay are vital to creating the strong supportive communities we need to promote tolerance and acceptance. It’s about what’s fair.

On 6 May, a range of laws took effect which will shift the balance in the direction of workers. These include the right for the union to visit members in a workplace, obligations on employers to show good faith in collective bargaining, the return of rest and meal breaks, fairer provisions for new employees, reasonable time for workplace delegates to fulfil their roles, and fairer outcomes for unjustified dismissals.

Together with initiatives such as the significant increases in the minimum wage, these are meaningful improvements for New Zealand working people and mean we are better able to represent the interests of our members. Ahead lies the campaign to secure Fair Pay Agreements.

While we will no doubt witness an hysterical and ill-informed assault on these plans from key employer groups, the fact is that overseas economies that are most successful at distributing the wealth created at work often have a system of industry-wide minimum pay rates and conditions negotiated by employer and unions. This is key to driving up real wages.

We are also pleased to be included among the signatory parties to the Construction Industry Accord launched by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on 14 April. This involves a whole-of-industry approach to addressing issues threatening the sustainability of the sector, including employment and income insecurity, health and safety issues, and migrant worker exploitation.

I want to close by recognising our Taranaki region delegates who have been very involved in the organisation of the Just Transition Summit held in New Plymouth on 9 and 10 May. The Summit is an important step in developing support for working people and their communities as we transition over coming decades from ‘carbon-heavy’ industries and into new carbon-neutral, high value jobs.

Thank you again for supporting our union by being an E tū member.


Biennial Membership Meetings

E tū is holding our Biennial Membership Meetings in September this year. We will get together to discuss the important issues that matter to our members, with all members eligible to attend.

There will be a mix of site meetings and local area meetings. The finalised schedule of meetings will be published here by 1 August, so please visit that page to find details about your meeting.

National Executive nominations

Keen to serve on our union’s National Executive? Now is your chance!

The following E tū National Executive positions are open for nomination:

North Island Vice President
South Island Vice President
Northern Regional Representative
Central Regional Representative
Southern Regional Representative

The Southern Region is the whole of the South Island (plus Stewart and Chatham Islands).
The Central Region includes Wellington, Wairarapa, Horowhenua, Manawatu, Whanganui, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Tai Rawhiti/East Coast.

The Northern Region includes Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

To be eligible for one of these positions, you must live in the region and need to have been a financial member of E tū for at least 12 months prior to being nominated. Nominations must be moved and seconded by financial members and would-be candidates must state that they wish to be nominated for the position.

All nominations must be received by the Returning Officer, Christopher Gordon (, by 5pm, Friday 21 June, along with a short bio of the person being nominated.

If there is more than one candidate for any position, an election will be held at the E tū Biennial Membership Meetings in September.

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)

E tū organising

Sistema: workers walk off the job

Our staunch and determined Sistema workers have taken strike action, walking off the job for the first time in the middle of a night-shift late last month. The day shift walked out two days later, forming a mighty picket line in front of the huge plastics plant. Other strikes have followed, after months of fruitless negotiations and hard work by our determined Sistema members and delegates.

The members are seeking a modest pay rise, and improved working conditions.This includes rotating jobs to relieve fatigue, greater respect from their supervisors and a fair and transparent promotion system.

The strength of feeling among our more than 200 E tū members was clear with 92% voting to strike.

Delegate Maria Latu was fizzing with excitement as workers streamed out of the factory at 11pm on that first night.

“We’re on strike! Everybody just walked out!” she said, to a barrage of car horns as striking workers drove out of the plant carpark in convoy.

“We don’t want to strike, but we know our employer does not value us. We’re sick of it,” says Maria. “My colleagues have had enough, we are prepared to stand up to have a chance at a decent life.”

As E tū and You goes to print, the dispute remains unresolved, but our members stand tall and undaunted, says delegate Sesilia Williams: “They are all strong, all united in support of each other,” she says. “We’re going to keep on keeping on until we
get results!”

Air New Zealand engineers gets a deal

E tū members at Air New Zealand Engineering and Logistics have been offered a deal after three days of mediation.

The unions entered into mediation with the company in early December, after the company failed to make a decent offer in negotiations. Air New Zealand had proposed cutting some long-held conditions and offered just a small pay rise.

E tū issued strike notices for three consecutive days, beginning on 21 December. These notices covered the busiest travel days of the year and attracted significant media attention.

Fortunately, a deal was reached on the third day of mediation, which included the unions involved withdrawing their strike notices. Our member-led bargaining team was satisfied that the deal addressed many the major problems and so the deal will now be taken to the members to vote on it. While the specific details remain confidential until members have had a chance to discuss it in detail, it is a significantly improved offer.

Air New Zealand Engineering and Logistics workers are a very well organised group, with high union density and well-established organising processes. This gives them the collective power to stand up for their rights and win what they deserve. While strike action is always a last resort, Air New Zealand Engineering and Logistics members have sent a clear message to the company that they won’t accept any less than they’re worth.

Delight as Auckland members ratify the new MECA

Our public hospital members are celebrating big pay rises as a result of the new DHB Multi Employer Collective Agreement ratified last month. Wages for many will increase by up to 40% over the next three years with those on the lowest rates expected to benefit the most.

The MECA covers about 3500 directly employed and contracted service workers, including cleaners, laundry workers, orderlies, catering and security staff at the country’s 20 DHBs.

Members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the deal which lifts pay in line with qualifications.

“We will get a good wage without having to work overtime on the weekend,” says Lena Hiku, a cleaner at Auckland Hospital. “This will be good for our family life and for our health,” she says.

The new pay scales also remove the requirement for 12 months service on each step before progressing, making it easier for members to get to the top step faster through training.

E tū hopes to see all members earn a Level 3 qualification which will mean a pay rise from a base rate of $17.28 to almost $25.63 by 2021 – an increase of 40.9%.

By the end of the MECA term, new workers on the basic scale will start on $20.90 an hour – an increase of 26.7%. At the top of the grade, wages will lift to $21.25 an hour – an increase of nearly 10%.

This will increase to at least $25.63 over the next three years – which is 30% more than workers earn now.

All new rates will be backdated to 25 June 2018.

For cleaner Janet Pihanga, the deal is a welcome early Christmas present. “This pay deal will be my Xmas bonus and hopefully the back-pay will be paid out before Xmas as well,” she says.

This MECA is a major investment by the DHBs and the government in the lowest paid workers in our public hospitals and helps deliver on the Government’s promise to lift the living standard of those at the bottom. As one member commented: “Thank you, Jacinda!” The increases are indeed impressive and reflect the hard work of E tū members.

Union pride at OceanaGold

“I’m proud of the membership, I’m proud of the boys for standing together as one voice. There was no wavering. It was E tū – we stood tall, we stood hard and the company recognised that.”

Those are the words of our on-site delegate at OceanaGold’s Waihi underground mine, where members went out on strike twice for 48 hours in September, in protest over a low pay offer, despite the Aussie-based firm posting a record profit this year.
Recent surveys also revealed a rich vein of gold in a new field and members believed the company could pay more.

“Feelings were running high,” says our delegate. “The company said there are ebbs and flows and sometimes they have to spend to make money, but they were making a lot more than they were prepared to give out,” he says.

Two strikes in and the members still stood firm. Finally, mediation brought a break-through with members winning a 3% + 2.5% two-year settlement.

“It was a good settlement and we wouldn’t have got it without the action that was taken.”

He says the team is also tighter on site now: “It’s been very good in uniting the workforce and showing our management we were united.”

As well as the pay increases, work continues on a new roster to reduce fatigue caused by long working hours. Workers currently work 84 hours over seven days, then three days off, which workers found exhausting.

“Everyone was coming back fatigued. Now, we’ll have 84 hours but seven days to recover.”

A fantastic result all round.

Pike River re-entry

E tū congratulates government Minister Andrew Little on his decision to re-enter the Pike River mine drift, where 29 men died in an explosion in November 2010.

Eleven union members died that day and it’s hoped the re-entry will uncover more about what caused this tragedy. The decision is also vindication for the Pike River families’ fight for justice.

Mining Industry Council member and delegate Dave Reece says, “If re-entry means they retrieve bodies and find out what caused it, that’s all good.”

Dave paid tribute to the Minister, formerly the National Secretary of our legacy union, the EPMU. “Andrew has to take a fair bit of credit for this and we’d expect nothing less. But at the end of the day, our main concern is that the re-entry is safe,” he says.

Steel workers settle

Members at NZ Steel and Pacific Steel are proud of the tight bond they’ve forged after multiple strike action, including their biggest strike in decades.

Our members took joint strike action for 24 hours in September, with hundreds of steel workers hitting the picket line outside Pacific Steel.

The dispute followed a low-ball offer from Aussie owner, Bluescope, which had just posted a huge AUD$1.6 billion profit.

“The initial offer was 1.6% and on the back of that massive profit, that was just unacceptable,” says Pacific Steel Senior Delegate Glenn Wallace, “though in the end it played in our favour.”

“The members realised what we had to do to get a result. It was a pleasure to see how united the workforce was. We had a 100% buy-in,” says Glenn.

The dispute settled after members accepted a 29-month deal, including a pay rise of 2.75% a year for two years, plus 1% for four months.

Site Convenor, Neville Jones pays tribute to the bond forged among members’ as a result of the dispute.

“We’re the mightiest we’ve ever been,” he says.

At NZ Steel, feelings also ran high, says our site convenor, Lance Gush. “The one thing – and we have to thank the company for this – they’ve actually unified our workforce. They galvanised it.

“The vote for action was 98% in favour so that’s a strong indication that the workforce supported what we were doing. They’d just had enough.”

He describes the atmosphere on the picket as “electric”.

Frustration reached boiling point with members threatening to strike for an unprecedented ten days, before mediation finally brought a much-improved offer of 8% over three years, which won the support of members.

“The vote was 80% in favour so that’s a strong endorsement. We believed that was the best deal we could get,” says Lance.
Meanwhile, industrial action continues for Bluescope workers at Port Kembla in Australia. Our members stand in solidarity with them until this dispute is resolved.

Members drive Air Nelson deal

After 17 long months of intense and resolute negotiations, the Air Nelson Collective Agreement has settled. This was not without some heated drama.

These members are among the lowest paid cabin crew at Air New Zealand, and the members grew more determined and united after the airline settled with its non-union members, stringing out talks while rejecting the bargaining claims of its unionised crew.

With talks at stalemate, Air Nelson members began organising for strike action, pickets and a march in protest at the inadequate offers and protracted negotiations on the part of the Air New Zealand bargaining team.

With the airline aware the union would go public with the dispute, it finally produced a deal that won the support of our members.

This includes a salary increase of between 4.4% and 6.2%, as well as substantial increases to meal allowances. Crew also won two extra rest days over their 28 day roster. There were no claw-backs.

E tū Delegate Shaun O’Neill says the members are happy.

“They were a little bit unhappy with how long it took. But definitely we’ve seen our payslips go up by about $200 a fortnight which is incredible. It’s such a help for us,” he says.

Oceania: big lift for members

Domestic staff at aged care group, Oceania have won a 6% pay rise – higher than any other aged care employer. The increase applies to Oceania’s kitchen, laundry, cleaning, maintenance, gardening and reception staff.

Oceania no longer pays the minimum wage after it lifted the starting rate from $16.50 to $17.25. This will increase again to $17.77 from 1 April next year.

“We’re very pleased and quite amazed with that,” says cleaning member Gina Radfield. “I do think we’re deserving of it,” she says.

And, in another exciting development, Oceania has said they remain open to working over the term of this year’s agreement towards becoming an Accredited Living Wage employer – which they have confirmed in a subsequent meeting.

Gina has thanked the union for this year’s deal saying, “It’s very much appreciated. Everyone’s happy and also quite amazed.”
Oceania has also agreed to include a domestic violence clause in the CA, which mirrors the new Domestic Violence leave legislation, which comes into effect from 1 April next year. In this case though, the clause will take immediate effect.

A safer IDEA?

Overtime and safe staffing ratios are key claims as E tū’s 2500 IDEA Services members began bargaining late last month to renew their Collective Agreement.

These members support 4000 people with intellectual disabilities in day bases and homes and the shifts are worked 24/7.

The talks are focussed on staffing levels and workloads which E tū reported last year to IDEA Services, along with under-reporting of assaults, and too few health and safety representatives on the job.

IDEA now admits there are too few health and safety reps, but it has been a long battle, says senior delegate Nic Corrigan.

“As part of the safe staffing drive, we’ll be pushing for a greater say in how restructuring is managed,” says Nic. “All too often the staff, the very people who understand the needs of the people they support, are ignored.”

“Overtime and weekend rates are also back on the agenda,” says delegate Nicky Garmonsway.

IDEA is pushing for a three-year deal, which would require staff to work public holidays. It also wants to cap sick leave and to rewrite the redundancy and review clause.

With the equal pay settlement now into its second-year, members are also pushing to reinstate lost relativities for senior staff, along with weekend and overtime pay.

Media merger spiked

Media companies Fairfax and NZME have failed in their bid to appeal the Commerce Commission decision against their proposed merger.

The Commission rejected the merger in the interests of robust journalism and the public interest – a decision upheld on appeal by the High Court with further appeals rejected by the Court of Appeal. This has ended hopes for the merger.

Your union welcomes the court decisions, which align with the submission by our E tū journalist members, which also opposed the merger. The decisions are important in countering further ownership consolidation of New Zealand’s news media and they establish that decisions about the media involve more than purely commercial considerations – that the impact on society and democracy are also of vital importance.

Just Transition

Taranaki begins Just Transition

Our Taranaki delegates are working alongside industry representatives and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) as part of E tū’s involvement in creating a Just Transition in the region.

Just Transition is a union initiative to prepare, train and equip workers and communities for an economy based on green energy technologies and industries. This is important for our many members in carbon-based industries and across our manufacturing sectors.

After several meetings, a 12-person leadership group has been set up to explore what the future holds, working industry by industry.

Team member and E tū delegate Sean Hindson says a Just Transition means fairness in wages, the creation of high wage jobs, and the development of long-term energy alternatives for the region.

“That’s incredibly important,” says Sean. “We have to start looking forward to the future, especially for younger generations. I think our sector will be around for a few decades, but we need both massive changes to our infrastructure and the development of the correct kind of energy for the future.”

Sean says he’s excited to be involved and receiving good quality information he can share with other members and the wider public.

“I can see there’s a lot of positive things to come and some really big opportunities for our region through this process.”

Living Wage

Workers want Bluff to be a Living Wage town

The Southland community celebrated the launch of Living Wage Bluff on November 18. More than 70 people attended including Sanford’s workers, St Anne’s Catholic Basilica, Awarua Social and Health Services, E tū and other unions, local leaders, and business people.

Sanford’s delegate Linda Bevin, who is also the chairperson of the Bluff network, was thrilled with the event.

“I think it went really well,” Linda says. “The stories people told were really powerful, especially from workers that are on single incomes.”

Workers in the country’s most southern town shared their stories of low pay and how they needed to organise for a Living Wage.

“They talked about how tough it is, having to dip into savings and things like that just to get simple household items,” says Linda.

Linda says that getting a Living Wage for Bluff is about future-proofing the town.

“It’s about our future and the future generations. There aren’t many opportunities outside of fisheries for people in Bluff, and you just can’t live properly on low wages.”

Tabitha Jessiman, an E tū member at Sanford, told the meeting: “I can’t participate in the community because I don’t have the funds, I can’t repair my house because I don’t have the funds, my daughter can’t play softball because I don’t have the funds.
“It would be less stressful not having to live pay cheque to pay cheque and every week having to decide which bills I will pay and which I won’t.”

With the campaign underway, the next step for the Living Wage Network Sanford’s workers is a letter to Sandford Chief Executive, Volker Kuntzsc, asking his profitable fishing company to support lifting these workers out of poverty.

Push for Porirua Living Wage

Teau Marama

Living Wage campaigners have a commitment from Porirua Mayor Mike Tana to work towards including the Living Wage in the Porirua City Council’s District Plan.

At a meeting organised as part of Living Wage Week, the Mayor was presented with 50 letters, signed by local community leaders, politicians and employers, urging him to introduce the Living Wage for council workers and contractors. The mayor said yes. However, he committed to the Living Wage during his election campaign and so far there has been little progress. By contrast, Wellington City Council is now a fully Accredited Living Wage Employer.

Teau Marama, an E tū member at the Porirua Union and Community Health Service who attended the meeting, says families in Porirua are struggling and she has a message for Mike: “The cost of living goes up every other day. So how about it? The Living Wage is not extreme.”

The Living Wage is life-changing

Wayne Richdale

Recon security guard Wayne Richdale knows how hard it is to live on low wages. When he began his security career, Wayne was earning the minimum wage.

“You struggle,” Wayne says. “You can’t eat properly, you work long hours, and you still can’t pay the bills.”

At one point, Wayne was working 72 hours a week to make ends meet. That was until E tū members at Wellington City Council won the Living Wage for workers employed by contractors like Recon.

“Now I can work 48 hours a week. It’s still tough. People think that standing on your feet for 12 hours is an easy job. Well, I say to that, next time you watch TV, try standing in front of it for five hours and see how you feel.”

Wayne says low wages are still a huge problem in the security industry.

“If I wasn’t working at a council location, I wouldn’t be on the Living Wage. I’d have to look for a second part-time job as the cost of essentials like food and groceries keeps going up.

“I believe all security guards should get the Living Wage. You’ve got to look at the overall context – for example, it would actually solve a lot of health problems. People would be able to afford fruit and vegetables, instead of relying on fast food. You’d deal with some of the homelessness problems, especially when you have situations in Auckland with two people earning and they still can’t pay the rent.”