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Member injured in AFFCO boiler incident

A boilerman is recovering from serious burns after a flash fire engulfed his upper body in a boiler incident in July at AFFCO’s Moerewa meatworks in Northland.

A second incident early in August alarmed members, who were angry WorkSafe had signed the boiler off as safe – despite concerns being raised about it with management before the accident.

“When they let us put it back online, nothing had been done. Yeah, it did work, but all the controls weren’t up to scratch, that’s for sure,” says a member at the plant.

So, the union issued a media release, demanding the boiler be shut down and that WorkSafe urgently investigate. The result: the boiler was quickly taken off-line, checked, repaired and alarmed to warn of any problems.

“It was that press release that forced their hand, but it should have happened sooner,” says another member.

Your union can confirm our member is doing well, but it’ll be a long road back.

E tū member wins Safeguard award

A Coca-cola Amatil E tū member, Joanne Thompson has won Health and Safety Representative of the Year at the New Zealand Health and Safety Awards, which recognise excellence in health and safety in New Zealand workplaces.

Joanne’s citation says: “Challenged to identify a problem and find a solution, she proposed a better way of keeping pedestrians and forklifts separated. She also created a safety induction video for new starters and contractors.”

Safeguard award winner Joanne Thompson (left)(Credit: McCabe photography)

In the House – politics at a glance

A Just Transition

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to E tū oil and gas industry members in May about a Just Transition for energy workers in Taranaki. A Just Transition means a pathway towards sustainability in energy at the same time as ensuring workers, families and their communities are protected as huge changes affect our workplaces.

E tū members at the Biennial Conference endorsed a submission outlining our support for a Just Transition for workers in the energy industry. OceanaGold delegate and Industry Council member Mark Anderson says commitment to a Just Transition is “great for the mining industry.”

“It’s good to know that the union is working with the Government to sort out a way to transition these guys into other valuable jobs, should there be a change. It’s an actual, tangible thing that we can see happening at the Government level.”

Domestic violence leave

Karen Brown supports domestic violence leave

In a world first, New Zealand workers now have the right to 10 days domestic violence leave a year. Green Party MP Jan Logie’s Victims’ Protection Bill was passed in July and comes into effect on 1 April next year.

Southland delegates and Women’s Committee members, Karen Brown and Linda Bevan are delighted with the new law. Karen says her employer has just agreed to having a similar clause in their collective agreement: “We felt something needed to be done and that’s why we got stuck in and came up with a clause.”

Linda agrees that the leave entitlement is a huge step forward: “It makes a huge difference to those affected by domestic violence, just to know it’s there and that you have the support of your workmates,” she says.

Looking forward to the future – member profile

Congratulations to Wheeti Haenga – who was elected as the new Women’s Committee Convenor at our Women’s Conference in June.

It’s a whole new challenge for Wheeti, who has years of experience as a delegate, first with the Meat Workers Union, during nine years at the Tirau meatworks, and later at Carter Holt Harvey in Tokoroa, where she works as a stacker operator, tagging and marking up wood for processing.

Wheeti first joined a union aged 15 after her family found her a job with the Post Office in Wellington. It was the 1970s and a time of union activism: “I remember we did a protest – Holyoake was in government then!” she says.

But it was the meatworks where she first made her mark after her mostly male co-workers asked her to be their delegate.

“I was working with all these young guys; they’d work hard out on the cool chain, and then I discovered they were being offered a keg of beer and a BBQ for doing extra work on a Friday. I said, “Why are you doing that? Why don’t you just take the money and use it for your family?” So they asked me to be the delegate: one of them thought I must have had the biggest mouth!”

It was tough for a woman in such a male-dominated industry, but it was also a great delegate’s apprenticeship. Then, when she moved to Carter Holt Harvey, she was soon asked to be a delegate there, too.

“At the time, there were no women delegates and that’s why I put my hand up; I also work as a Health and Safety Rep on the site Committee so I’ve had my fingers in a number of pies.”

She admits her time as a Women’s Committee member has been an eye-opener, as she compared their bare-bones pay and conditions with the much more generous terms at Carter Holt Harvey.

“There are no problems at Carter Holt Harvey about approaching our managers personally with problems but with the other women on the committee, they don’t have that luxury. I have to remind myself we get what we get through our bargaining and others don’t have it so easy.”

Wheeti praises delegates, like Linda Bevin and Karen Brown, who have won cross-union support for including domestic violence clauses in collective agreements – rights now recognised in Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act (more overleaf).

“What they’ve done is great. At our site, we get generous leave so we’re covered, but hopefully the clause can be worked into collectives as well.”

Wheeti pays tribute to the Committee members she’ll be working with as Convenor.

“For me it’ll be two years of learning and I feel quite humbled. I just see myself as a leader in a committee that’s come forward from all areas and ethnicities and it’s not about me – it’s about working together as a committee.

“We’re all one. We’ve also got young ones there to spice things up. I thought, ‘Wow! I’m looking forward to the future!’”

Mental health pay equity deal official

The equal pay settlement for mental health and addiction support workers is official!

The Government, unions and other agencies signed on the dotted line at an event at parliament in August.

Shona Pao has worked in mental health support for 27 years, after following her mother, Tina Topia into the industry. Her pay will lift from $19.80 to $24.50 an hour.

“It’s exciting!” says Shona. “And I’m so happy for our delegates who have worked hard for us. This will make a huge difference.”

Delegate Huia Broughton says the settlement is a weight off her shoulders.

“You just feel you have more options, and like you can rest now. We’ll have a better work-life balance to look forward to,” she says.

About 5000 workers will benefit from the settlement, which includes backpay to 1 July last year.

Home support push

Home support members are organising! Workplace Organising Committees and training are growing membership numbers and active leaders.

“When I first joined, I thought I’d just give support, but it’s become much bigger than that,” says Etevise Ioane, who is one of our amazing home support activists.

Etevise Ioane (right) with fellow activists Shannon Crowley and Shaun O’Neill

Etevise says the members learn to speak for themselves, knowing the union is there to provide help, support and a sense of connection: “We have a much stronger bond with each other. And we encourage others to speak out,” she says.

“We know the union is behind us, that we can fall back on them. Once the members understand that, they become more proactive. And that’s the message we are trying to get out there.”

“We don’t just join for ourselves, but it’s for the good of all, and for the future.”

Organising Our Future

Delegates from across the country gathered in Auckland in July for our second Biennial Conference. The Conference name and theme, ‘Organising Our Future, Te Anga Whakamua’, set the stage for a forward-looking event focussed on preparing our union and our workforce for the world of work ahead.

Our membership was well represented by attendees from diverse backgrounds including delegates from all our industries, representatives from our democratic networks and committees, regional representatives and our National Executive members. Together, the Conference delegates embodied who we are as a union.

Delegates participated in different workshops to explore new and exciting ways of organising. E tū member Roszanne Davidson particularly enjoyed learning about political organising around election campaigns.

“What stood out for me was the political organising strategies workshop” Roszanne says.

“I learnt that there’s more to the political side of things than meets the eye. The people doing the work behind the scenes are the unsung heroes.”

As the highest decision-making body of our union, the Conference endorsed a number of remits and rule changes, including a remit that E tū supports the NZ Council of Trade Unions’ policy outlining opposition to the occupation of Palestine.

Charlie Ross, a representative from the Taranaki Delegates Forum which put up the remit, says he is very happy with the outcome.

“We discussed it at our Forum and we were keen to voice our support for the people in Palestine. We can only do what we can do, but it’s important that we stand up for them. I thought it was awesome that the Conference passed the remit.”

The Conference also recognised outstanding contributions to our union with Life Memberships awarded to E tū activists that have put in the hard yards. For Wellington caregiver Marianne Bishop, that was a real highlight.

“My favourite thing was Kristine Bartlett being awarded her Life Membership. She really deserved it for sticking with the equal pay fight for so long, and she got so many people a life-changing pay rise,” Marianne says.

 

Editorial – E tū shines amongst the business gloom

One of the main focal points in the media recently has been the surveys of business confidence.

Every time a Labour Government is elected the owners of capital are outraged and take a form of strike action through the business confidence surveys.

They hope that getting the media to highlight these surveys will shake the confidence of a Labour Government and stop it from raising the minimum wage, legislating for greater worker rights and other measures that would force a greater distribution of New Zealand’s wealth.

Westpac Bank CEO David McLean has described this attitude from businesses as a “self-fulfilling spiral of doom and gloom.”

More important to E tū are the surveys we have done of our members that show worker confidence is at an all-time high, and that is for a very good reason.

The Government is lifting the minimum wage by about 25% over its first term and this is flowing on to our members in the low-paid service sector as the union pushes to retain the margins above the minimum wage in collective agreements.

The Government has introduced the Living Wage of $20.55 for all workers in the core public service and a growing number of local councils are doing the same.

With the recent mental health support workers’ pay equity settlement, most of our care and support members are on pay rates from $21.00 to $24.50 an hour.

The Government is intent on passing employment legislation to recognise the rights of elected workplace delegates, to make it mandatory for employers to give out union material to new workers, to include wage rates in collective agreements, and to have a provision that requires parties to conclude collective bargaining.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is an E tū member, recently announced that all members of parliament would have a 12 month pay freeze and State Services Minister Chris Hipkins also announced that state sector chief executiveswould no longer get performance bonuses and some would have their salaries reduced when they came up for review.

We know that some die-hard owners of capital are outraged by these actions, but others are not.

 

Software accounting company Xero says its data shows that small businesses are booming and former ANZ economist, and now consultant, Darren Linton says that his surveys showed that seven out of 10 New Zealand businesses were either on track to achieve their financial targets or were due to exceed these targets.

Rob Campbell, who is chair of Sky City Casino and retirement group, Summerset, welcomed the shifts in the lowest rates of pay and the equal pay settlements. He warned his fellow employers that they had a social licence to operate in this country but when they conducted business with excessive greed or insensitivity they could easily lose their social legitimacy.

E tū will not be put off by the negative Business NZ campaign against this Government and its policies. The Government’s strategy is to create prosperity and in the end, that is good for everyone.

E tū is engaging on many fronts with Government ministers and employers, who want to improve the rights of members and grow the New Zealand economy.

We are represented on the Government’s Fair Pay Agreements Working Party, the Future of Work Governance Group and the Living Wage Consultative Forum.

Now is our time! Let’s do this!

 

 

Notices

New Industry structure

The E tū industry structure has changed to better reflect which sectors and industries E tū members work in. The six E tū industry groups are now:

Aviation

Communications

Community Support

Engineering, Infrastructure and Extractions

Manufacturing and Food

Public and Commercial

Please visit the E tū website for more information: www.etu.nz/industry

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)

support@etu.nz

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 at: www.etu.nz/join

Rule changes

The E tū Biennial Conference voted for a number of changes to the official E tū Rules. For a list of all the changes, please visit: www.etu.nz/rulechanges2018

AIL Insurance

All members are now covered by a $1,500 Accidental Death and Dismemberment Benefit, including $500 spouse coverage and a further $500 coverage on dependent children. This is an automatic membership benefit of belonging to E tū.

Members must return an AIL reply card or reply online at ailing.co.nz/request  in order for an AIL representative to deliver your certificate of coverage and explain additional insurance coverage available. If you did not receive a reply card, please call the freephone number listed below. This is very important to you and your family. 

Members also have the option to increase their coverage an additional $10,000 which costs just $2 for the first year.

Please note: to qualify for the $10,000 of additional ADB coverage, an AIL representative must visit you, obtain an enrolment form and collect premium for the first year. You may renew annually for $5.

AIL Public Relations

mario@ailnz.co.nz
Freephone 0800 894 121
www.ailife.com

American Income Life Insurance Company logo

E tūtu: union welcomes Royal NZ Ballet

Meet the delegates team at the Royal New Zealand Ballet, which we are delighted to welcome to the ever-growing fold of E tū. Most of the dancers and support staff officially joined early in March.

The company used to have its own union, but as it increased in size, the Secretary advised members to seek a more arms-length union.

“We were kind of at a plateau a bit with our own union so we thought we needed someone who’ll have a bigger voice for us,” says dancer and delegate Katie Hurst-Saxton.

The delegates are hoping for a close working relationship with the Ballet’s board and management: “more input, more communication and more trust,” says delegate and office administrator, Nigel Boyes.

E tū also represents the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, with which the ballet works closely, so that was also a good fit. The union has been working to forge closer ties between the orchestra and Australian performing arts networks and hopes to provide similar opportunities for the ballet.

E tū organising

Members face Fletchers’ fallout

Members at Fletcher Construction will soon be job-hunting after the company’s near-billion dollar loss and its decision to mothball its Building and Interiors division once all current projects are finished.

E tū has many members at Fletchers, but few in this division, which is a symptom of what’s gone wrong. “At one big project, the only Fletchers’ guys on site are managers. The rest are all subcontractors,” says one member.

“Usually there’s a fixed budget and there’s where we lose our money – they only price for half the job.”

E tu’s view is the industry is overly dependent on subcontractors, which has helped drive up costs.

Our member, who won’t be named because he will soon be job hunting, says a key concern is subcontractors don’t fully price work. Instead, they take “the cream of the work, but fail to complete awkward stuff they can’t make money on.

“You’ve got a fixed budget and there’s where we lose money – they only price for half the job. We come in at the end to fix everything up after they’ve walked away,” he says, which blows out the budget.

In the case of the Justice Precinct in Christchurch, our members say much of it was built twice; once with mistakes and a second time to correct them.

E tū wants firms to hire more permanent workers, provide secure jobs and train apprentices, including locals and qualifying migrants, which would help resolve major skills shortages.

Instead, worksites typically involve an army of subbies, labour hire workers and in some cases, undocumented migrant labour sourced illegally.

Our migrant members say it is now hard to find stable jobs with wages high enough to qualify for residency.

“We came here going through the right process and pay all the fees and hope one day we can get our family to settle,” says one member from a labour hire company. “But with this kind of situation how do we win?”

Planning begins for Metals meetings

Planning is underway ahead of mass meetings for members covered by the Metal and Manufacturing Collective Agreement, known as “the Metals.”

The current document expires on 30 June with the meetings scheduled in May.

The agreement, which is a Multi Employer Collective Agreement, or MECA, covers more than 600 workers at over 80 companies and is the country’s leading manufacturing agreement.

Members meet in 2016 to discuss claims for the Metals agreement. Meetings this year are in the planning stages.

“Employers like it because it’s a minimum wage document – it means they can pay the minimum rate,” says delegate Ken Wilkins of Piersons in Christchurch who has been on the bargaining team since 2005.

Ken says it also keeps a floor under wages and conditions, and of course, many employers pay more. Ken says he also expects rates will rise in the wake of the lift in the minimum wage on 1 April.

Recruitment surges at Sistema

This year we’ve hit the ground running with our campaign at Sistema. Our delegate numbers have grown from 4 to twelve delegates, and membership continues to grow despite high staff turnover.

“I never thought about becoming a delegate,” says new delegate, Sesilia Williams, “but because my colleagues asked me to step up, I said “why not”? I want to support them with their issues and motivate them to get involved in making our workplace better.”

Helping drive membership growth are health and safety issues at the plant. This includes heat caused by the plastics’ manufacturing process and made worse by a sizzling summer. One member who is heavily pregnant almost fainted at work because of it.

That galvanised hundreds of workers to sign a petition demanding management take urgent action. Delegates presented this to management when they raised several other issues.

Meanwhile, this increased activity has made people more confident about joining the union. Before, they were nervous; now they come up and ask to join.

Sistema delegates, Luke Sanglap and Sesilia Williams

As the campaign grows, Sistema workers will be looking to the wider community for support. Delegates have already started mapping links between their colleagues and the wider community, for instance churches and rugby clubs.

The number one priority at the moment is to grow the union on the site in numbers and leaders. As the delegates grow more confident, and start winning victories that becomes easier.

Back pay sought in LSG Skychefs case

LSG Skychefs is seeking leave to appeal a court decision which found two of its long-term labour hire workers should be considered direct employees of the global airline catering company.

The two members, Kamlesh Prasad and Liutofaga Tulai, worked for LSG Skychefs for years, but because they were labour hire workers they were paid less than directly employed workers. They also had periods when they received no holiday pay, sick leave or Kiwisaver entitlements and even had to pay their own ACC cover.

The union successfully argued in the Employment Court that the workers’ real employer was LSG Sky Chefs.

The application for leave to appeal is due to be heard in June. If the original ruling is upheld, the union will be lodging a back pay claim for Kamlesh and Liutofaga and many other workers. Kamlesh has since found a new job, and Liutofaga has a new baby!

Kamlesh told E tū and You: “I am very happy that we won the case. Now we need to flight to get our money that is owing to us. It is a very important victory.”

Meanwhile, the union is working with other labour hire workers at LSG Skychefs, to ensure they know their rights in the event the Court of Appeal upholds the Employment Court ruling.

End of an era as Cadbury closes

Our thanks and best wishes go to our E tū members at Cadbury in Dunedin which closed on 29 March.

Once the plant employed close to 400 workers. Today, only maintenance engineers remain on-site, dismantling what’s left of the machinery. The rest has been shipped to Australia where Mondelez, Cadbury’s owner, has moved production.

E tū Cadbury delegate, Teresa Gooch

Cadbury Sub-Branch Vice President, Teresa Gooch documented the shut-down in the photos below.

Speaking just days before the closure, Teresa told E tū and You it was tough working those last months, especially once work began to pull the place apart.

“It was something some of us thought we wanted to do, but we didn’t realise the end would be so hard, not having your friends there, it’s just not the same. It’s really not ‘the factory’ any more.

“There’s quite a few Aussie contractors pulling the place down and it’s been pretty hard to watch them do that,” she says.

Cadbury was very much a big family, and Teresa remains adamant the closure is a mistake.

“It’s just heartbreaking – they’ve destroyed a good, family-oriented business in Dunedin.”

Teresa and her fellow delegate, Jason Welch have also thanked the union for its support and work on their behalf in the wake of the closure decision.

“It’s been really good, really helpful,” says Jason who has also watched with sadness as the factory shut down. Jason has a new job but he remains critical of the closure.

“When you think of the history, the tradition and the chance to have a job, and a good job, which it gave people, it’s sad.”

We’d like to thank Teresa, Jason and our other Cadbury delegates and members, who made this site so special for our union.

Dayshift crew working on the final production run of Pineapple Lumps

Members working on the final production run of caramilk

Settlement close for Silver Fern Farms

Takapau members on the Silver Fern Farms picket line

Last minute hiccups delayed the ratification of the Silver Fern Farms’ collective agreement (CA), reached after further bargaining talks in February.

The deal was reached after strike action by 19 members at SFF’s Takapau plant, following an initial, miserable pay offer, which was withdrawn in the wake of the strike.

Delegate Brendan Illsley, says members had been trying to settle their agreement for more than a year.

“We were getting further and further behind everyone else, basically every other tradesman around the country. We’re not paid that well around this area anyway,” says Brendan.

The final deal is a good one for Takapau members, as well as our members at SFF’s other four plants. A key win is the company agreeing to the same expiry date for all five Collective Agreements.

The offer includes:

  • back pay of 1.5% from November 2016 to November 2017, for Takapau members, whose CA failed to settle over the period
  • a 1% pay rise for the next 6 months for Takapau members, as they aligned their CA with SFF four other sites
  • a 2% wage rise from 31 March 2018 to 31 March 2019
  • a new 40 cents per hour tool allowance and an additional 40 cents per hour for those already getting the existing allowance.

The total pay rise is close to 4% and Brendan says the strike was definitely worth it.

“I think it made the company wake up and realise we meant what we were saying. I don’t think we would have got anywhere without it.”

Brendan says he’s hopeful the pay rise will help slow the high turnover of skilled tradespeople at the plant.

Workers singing about Chorus subbies

A young worker fired by a Chorus subcontractor has been left without a job and with his working visa in jeopardy.

“He fired me,” says the member of his former boss. “He just said you’re no longer part of the company. I didn’t get any payment for the one month of work I did for him.”

The worker is one of many who have joined E tū after being badly treated by Chorus subcontractors installing ultrafast broadband.

The Government ordered an inquiry into Chorus subcontractors just before Christmas, after reports of labour abuses by subcontractors, including not paying so-called “volunteers”.

Problems include illegal pay deductions, the underpayment of wages or no payment for so-called ‘volunteers’, as well as health and safety breaches, no annual leave and sick leave, and inadequate equipment.

Like our member who lost his job, many are migrants and need the work to maintain their working visa status.

The union is putting these members in touch with the Government investigation team so they can tell their stories and reveal the true scale of abuses in this industry.

Roster win for Nexans’ members

When New Plymouth cable maker, Nexans decided to reinstate a 24/7 4-on, 4-off roster to replace Monday to Friday shifts, delegate Rodney Johns and his team of four were keen. It would mean a 20 percent pay rise, because they’d gain an allowance they lost when the weekday roster was introduced.

But they didn’t like the 6 o’clock start times. It limited time with their families and caused fatigue. They wanted to start at 7 o’clock instead.

Nexans delegate, Rodney Johns

“We know that is a better, healthier shift for us,” says Rodney. “Even though it sounds small, only one hour, it had a big impact on family life. When you walk in at 6am, you’re tiptoeing around, trying not to wake people. When you walk in at 7am, you’re getting people up and you are there for breakfast. And getting up at 5 in the morning wasn’t fun!”

Management said a different start time could disrupt production. So Rodney and his work mates decided to find solutions to get what they wanted. Rodney met regularly with management to discuss their concerns about operational “flow”, supervisor’s cover and so on.

Then the four members resolved each issue, working in their breaks and through texts and phone calls. “We all agreed on the 7 o’clock start, so we wrote the proposal, got it on E tū letter-head and mailed it to management,” he says.

As well as solutions, their proposal promoted the benefits of a change, including improved morale from happy families, minimised fatigue, and production benefits.

They also had a precedent. Nexans agreed to a shift change in 2016, after members made a convincing case for this. And Nexans also agreed at bargaining last year to genuinely consider different start times where this was unanimously supported.

This gave Rodney and his team hope. Sure enough, late last month management agreed to the proposal and the new roster began just after Easter.

“I was stoked! Just relieved,” says Rodney. “It’s what we needed just to make life that much easier. It made our work environment so much happier.”

Rodney pays tribute to his union and the skills he’s learned through training and on the job experience as a delegate.

“We wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it without that,” he says. “You’ve got the clauses in your contract to use; you’ve got the law to use; you’ve got the tools that E tū provides, and the education; it’s just putting it all together I guess and doing it.”

Home Support: push to resolve issues

The union is working with fed-up members at the country’s biggest home support provider, Auckland-based Geneva. Members say Geneva can’t manage guaranteed hours, with many working in conditions tantamount to zero hour contracts.

They are also concerned about their clients, many of whom report waiting for carers who fail to turn up.

“It just seems there’s something terribly wrong with the whole way it’s working at Geneva,” says delegate, Shannon Crowley.

Members at Access and Enliven report similar issues.

“Equal pay has lifted pay rates and that’s great,but people tell me they’ve lost so many hours, then they don’t hear from anyone until three weeks are up and they legally lose them,” says South Canterbury delegate, Jenny Stewart.

Members also query new requirements to log on using cellphones. They say if phones are required, then providers should pay for them as well as the data charges.