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E tū organising

Strike power leads to real results at Asahi

It took grit and determination for delegates and members to more than double their membership and triple their delegates at Asahi, the well-known drinks company, in the lead up to bargaining this year.

But they knew joining was just step one to secure decent pay increases.

Members were fully engaged in their bargaining process and voted nearly unanimously in favour of a 24-hour strike if the company was not going to improve their offer.

The threat of a strike worked, and Asahi offered the pay rise members needed to settle.

The end result? An extra $5 per hour over two years, which will mean all members will now be at least on a Living Wage from June next year.

A delegate at Asahi, Ken Cruickshank, says members were “relieved” to secure a pay rise.

“Members worked ridiculous hours and they had to work those hours as the pay was so low before,” he says.

“It was a bit sad that we had to go to those lengths to get it resolved. But the end result is the main thing and we managed to achieve it.”

Big step up for workers in schools

Porirua school caretaker and groundsperson Bill Hiku knows a good deal when he sees it.

The E tū delegate, who bargained the deal alongside delegate and cleaner Liz Hammond, says the pay wins in the most recent collective agreement for school cleaners, caretakers, and canteen staff are “monumental”.

All workers in those areas employed by the Ministry of Education will be entitled to anywhere from a 12% to 16% pay rise over the agreement’s two-year term.

The pay increases fall under the Government’s cost of living increase for workers in public service, which was up for review during the bargaining for  the collective agreement.

The new rates will go through in the first quarter of 2023, but with pay backdated to signing.

“Bargaining began in February and has been a long, drawn-out process, so I’m pleased members were so patient and we were able to negotiate some really concrete rates,” says Bill, who primarily works at Porirua College, alongside six other schools in the area.

E tū delegate and school caretaker Bill Hiku

The Ministry has also agreed to form a working party to review pay for caretakers to fairly recognise their qualifications and experience.

Bill also wants to see a Fair Pay Agreement (or FPA) for workers in his sector.

“FPAs signal some return to certainty around progression and pay rates, and it sends a crystal clear message to employers to be fair and responsible to their employees.”

Aviation delegates join together to create safer airports

Air New Zealand delegates at their first Delegates Council meeting in November

Delegates at Air New Zealand are taking a proactive and strategic approach to creating better work conditions and building union power by forming their own elected delegates’ council. Around 20 of the airline’s delegates, who work in different roles, came together for their first meeting in November.

Health and safety was a big focus, and creating shared goals for bargaining that all Air New Zealand members could get behind.

Ground handling delegate Owen Walthew works at New Plymouth Airport and says it was important that workers in different roles could unite around the same aims.

“It’s about having that energy and standing together in power with other workers also on collective agreements – rather than regional airports bargaining for one thing, and Engineering and Maintenance bargaining for something different,” he says.

“I’m really interested in the idea of having safe airports, which means every employer and operator – including contractors – has to have high health and safety standards and reps elected by the workers.”

Cabin crew member Gina Urlich became a delegate in the past year and had only previously met other delegates online due to the pandemic, so it was great to meet face to face.

“I think it keeps you more engaged as a delegate. It’s really positive and great to actually be able to reach out to other delegates.”

The next Air New Zealand Delegate Council meeting is set down for February.

There are 3100 members covered by 10 collective agreements at the airline.

“Terrific” result for latest journalists’ collective

RNZ in Wellington

The pay rise in this year’s collective agreement at Radio New Zealand (RNZ) is one of best its journalists have seen for a decade.

Signed in November, the joint E tū and PSA collective has members feeling very positive after many years of minimal or no pay increases.

Most members will get a seven percent pay rise, with a 10% increase on all allowances.

Those who have been with the company for more than five years, but who are earning below the median for public sector workers, will also have their pay increased to bring them up to 95 percent of that, as well as the seven percent rise on top.

Longtime RNZ delegate Phil Pennington says the result is “terrific”.

“The feedback that we’ve had is very positive,” he says. “We’ve only had one pay rise like it in the past 10 years that I can recall.”

RNZ members’ next bargaining will take place with their TVNZ colleagues, when the two merge into Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media in 2023.

IDEA Services members win the fight to save their collective agreement

IDEA services members at their ratification meeting for Thames Valley

After two years of tough negotiations, IDEA Services members have at last finalised their new collective agreement.

IDEA wanted to take hard-won conditions off the members and tried to negotiate away benefits, including rights to redundancy notice and pay.

The organisation tried to destroy the collective agreement altogether, taking the Government and the union to court.

The Government had given an extension to agreements that expired during Covid, and IDEA wanted the extensions to be declared illegal.

IDEA won the case, but our members on our negotiating team stood firm and pushed ahead with negotiations.

They saved the collective agreement and preserved all the existing conditions.

Members will receive improvements to conditions, including support to complete training and go up the pay scale.

There is more to win in future, but the bargaining team believes this was the best achievable outcome given the circumstances.

Bargaining team member Dawn Kopa-Katene, who has been an E tū member for almost 20 years, says the negotiations have been hard work.

“Most of our members didn’t know how close we came to losing our agreement,” she says.

“We’ve been working hard. Now the agreement is done, it’s a weight lifted off my shoulders.”

Mass bargaining kicks off at major aged care chains

Ngahuia Singh (right) with members at BUPA Foxton at their claims meeting

Members at major aged care chains are standing together for a better deal this bargaining round.

From mid-November, members from BUPA, Oceania, Radius, Summerset, and Metlifecare are in bargaining for new collective agreements with their employers.

Members are bargaining at the same time to create some consistency in pay and conditions between the aged care employers.

New delegate and carer Ngahuia Singh, who works for BUPA, says she’s always been union but is now on the bargaining team to make a difference.

“I’m very vocal and I’m not scared to speak up. I think we deserve the pay rise that we’re wanting. It would be good to increase our sick leave too,” she says.

“It’s about working as a collective – we are stronger together.”

Workers will also be fighting for pay parity with Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ) service workers, and a cost of living increase for care workers.

Rest home members long fight brings Living Wage at last

The E tū and NZNO Selwyn bargaining team

It’s been eight years since they first put a claim through to be paid the Living Wage, but members who work as caregivers and service workers at Selwyn Village never gave up.

And their fight has paid off, with pay going up by 10% for all members on the collective agreement and having the Living Wage as a starting rate.

E tū and NZNO members negotiated the deal in November, more than eight years after members called a community meeting to urge Selwyn to pay them more for their work.

Melenaite Elekana, who has been a delegate for more than a decade, says she’s “impressed” with the outcome.

“It’s good for members. Most of them are really, really happy, especially our cleaners and our care workers – we finally got it,” she says.

“The cost of living is too high at the moment, and this is a great outcome. Having a strong union will always get a better result.”

She says since starting work at Selwyn, this was the first negotiation she can remember that’s been easy.

“Even though we had two really, really long days of bargaining, this is the first easy outcome.

“This was also the first time I felt like we had a really good relationship – I think Selwyn really tried to find out what union members wanted.”

“Having a strong union will always get a better result.”

Melenaite Elekana

City parking wardens’ positive new start

WCC parking officers bargaining team at the end of negotiations

The capital’s parking officers are happy and still in shock at their “awesome” new collective agreement, which has many wins for members and looks like the start of a positive new working relationship with their employer.

The majority of members working for Wellington City Council as parking officers will see around an 11% lift in their pay, backdated to 1 July this year.

As members are on a rotating roster, new clauses mean they won’t miss out on any of the 12 annual public holidays, and will receive a day in lieu if the holiday falls on their rostered day off.

E tū delegate and senior parking officer Stuart Wheeler says the vote to accept the new agreement was unanimous.

“Everyone voted yes, which was awesome. I was quite shocked at the amount that went through in the end – it’s like a whole pay grade change for staff and will allow a lot more growth to happen.”

Stuart says union membership is also increasing with around 80% of parking officers now part of E tū – “a massive advantage” in representation for members.

Another great change has been the openness of the management to listen to members, he says.

“We now have monthly meetings with delegates, a rep from HR, and management to help build our relationship and find issues that are easily missed and work out how we can fix those.”

Solid wins for Compass hospital kitchen members

Members who work in hospital kitchens for Compass will finally get a pay rise and a new collective agreement.

It means a lift in their hourly rates this year of $2.10 an hour with back pay to September 2021, and a further 50-cent increase next year.

Under the new collective, all members will have the chance to complete their training and to progress through the different levels at the one and two-year mark of their employment.

Other benefits include being able to apply for an entitlement to more sick leave and a new Te Tiriti o Waitangi working group.

The agreement has also been extended to include members who used to work for Spotless in South Canterbury, Wairarapa, Whanganui, and Mid-Central, and whose work has recently been taken over by Compass. A special schedule protects all their
former entitlements.

Compass bargaining team members at the E tū Auckland office in August

Bargaining team member and delegate Wiremu Jenkins says the new collective agreement has been a long time coming.

“People were ready to take industrial action – that’s how angry and frustrated they were. Both Compass and our team agreed, let’s get some money on the table for our workers, and keep going with working committees around training and Te Tiriti in the new year.”

One thing he’s looking forward to? Having te reo in his kitchen.

“The hospital is beautiful, but you come into my kitchen and there’s not a single Māori word. Now we have the opportunity to sit down with the company’s cultural advisor and put things together.”


“Go for gold!” Making life better for members in cleaning

Kura Leka is an E tū delegate and was part of the team that won the first collective agreement at the cleaning company she works for, before joining the fight to win Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs). She lives with her husband and seven tamariki in Auckland.

Tell us about your background.

I’m from Wainui Bay in the far north. My iwi is Ngā Puhi. When we were young, Mum and Dad used to live up there, but most of the jobs were orchard jobs, picking fruit. Mum and Dad wanted something different, so they came to live in Auckland. We go home every Christmas to spend quality time with the rest of the family as most of them still live up there.

How did you get into cleaning as a job?

My grandfather and nan were part of the cleaning company that I work at now. They helped establish it and made it really good. Even when I was a kid, I used to go with them and help them. They served for the company, I’d say, pretty much all my life.

How did you come to be part of E tū?

I felt like we were doing so much work in our eight hours at a rate that wasn’t suitable for people with big families. The struggle is so real, with the cost of everything that’s gone up so high. We should fight for what we need, and those who are fighting in silence.

What inspired you to join the fight for Fair Pay Agreements?

It’s really good that FPAs have now passed. We really need that in our communities, especially for any contract jobs and stuff like that. Many companies don’t follow rules, like guidelines around PPE gear. The health and safety is so poor. Many companies also don’t follow up with workers around health and safety. For example, making sure that we aren’t cleaning over a certain height.

What do you get up to in your time off?

Church is a big part of my life, and I’m currently a Sunday school teacher at my church.

“We should fight for what we need, and those who are fighting in silence.”

What’s one thing that members would be surprised to learn about you?

A few years ago, I started up my own small business. I do custom printing, making business cards, stickers, and other stuff. I have still gone back to work cleaning though, as sitting in front of the computer all day gets hōhā. So physically and mentally I wanted to think of my health.

What would you say to other members who work in cleaning and want to get an FPA?

My message would be: Don’t wait – go and sign up for the FPA, and go hard. Go for gold! Live like there’s no tomorrow.

Remembering Waihi 110 years on

On the main street of Waihi, one of the country’s major mining towns, a plaque to unionist and miner Fred Evans lies mostly hidden from sight outside the settlement’s town hall.

Evans is one of the only unionists in Aotearoa who’s been killed during a strike, after he was attacked on 12 November 1912 by police during an ongoing dispute between the Waihi Gold Mining Company and the union.

That same union – the Waihi Trade Union of Workers (WTUW) – was affiliated to the ‘Red Feds’ or New Zealand Federation of Labour, which then went on to form the first Labour Party.

E tū and UNITE Union leaders and staff at the event

In 2021, the year before the 110th anniversary of Evans’ death, E tū Engineering, Infrastructure, and Extractions (EIE) Industry Council Convenor, Mark Anderson, raised the idea of commemorating the day.

“It’s an important story about political power. The striking miners weren’t just up against an employer, they were up against a police force and a government.”

Around 30 people came along to the weekend event, organised collectively by E tū, the Auckland Labour History Group, Labour Coromandel, and the NZTCU.

E tū Co-President Muriel Tunoho says she was touched by the story of Evans, the miners’ union, women and community fighting back when their rights were severely under attack.

E tū National Secretary Bill Newson and NZCTU Union Development Director Ross Teppett

“A huge price was paid, and the lessons from history are still relevant to us today. Building solidarity and organising collectively, including with tangata whenua, is vital to improving conditions for all workers and to strengthen our employment legislation framework.”

A message from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

There’s no doubt the whole world is facing a cost of living crisis right now and New Zealand families are not immune.

But in tough times Labour will always stand alongside working families to help you through. That’s why we cut fuel excise by 25 cents a litre and made public transport half price to make getting around more affordable. We introduced a cost of living payment through the winter months and at our recent conference announced increases to childcare subsidies because we know that is the biggest in-work cost for working families.

All these extra cost of living supports sit alongside our ongoing commitments to middle and low income families, such as increases to the minimum wage, increases to working for families, the food in schools programme, benefit increases, free doctors visits for under 14s, and so much more.

E tū members play an important role in our party. As an affiliated union, E tū has a strong voice and has been an important part of some of the key decisions we’ve made as a government.

2023 will bring new challenges and an election. But Labour is the only party that will keep looking out for workers and those most in need.

Wishing you all a great, much-needed break this summer with family and friends.

Labour Party Conference 2022

As 2023 will be a General Election year, the Labour Party Annual Conference 2022 was all about setting the scene for the campaign ahead. The 23-person strong E tū delegation left the event pumped up and ready for action.

E tū and our legacy unions have been involved in Labour Party democracy since the party was formed over a hundred years ago. It’s an important way for workers to have our voices heard at the highest levels of decision-making in Aotearoa, and we use the opportunity to fight for the rights of workers, our families, and our wider communities.

At this year’s conference, E tū and other unions championed some really important policy, including a transformational remit to create a new institution to oversee Fair Pay Agreements and other workplace relations issues.

Neil McCarthy, E tū delegate and chef who lives in Taihape, has been representing E tū in Labour Party democracy for many years. He had another great conference.

“My favourite part of the conference was the unions coming together and working together not only for the party, but the greater good of all workers and unions,” Neil says.

“Watching the democracy and progress of the whole weekend was just awesome.”

Neil says it’s as important as ever that E tū is involved with the Labour Party.

“Our union and the Labour Party are cut from the same cloth and grew out of the issues and struggles that are still relevant to this day. We have had some great wins, particularly the introduction of Fair Pay Agreements, which will address many of the problems we have had since National passed the Employment Contracts Act in 1991.

“We need Labour back in next time to keep building on the good stuff and to stop National getting in and undoing all of our hard work.”

Celebrating victories during Living Wage Week

The Living Wage Movement has a lot to celebrate! Our Living Wage Week this year was all about marking how much progress has been made, and looking ahead to victories to come.

In Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Christchurch, local Living Wage supporters presented their new councils with cards of congratulations for making Living Wage commitments during the local election campaigns.


Porirua City Council had a particularly special Living Wage Week, officially receiving their accreditation certificate, marking them as the most recent Living Wage Council in Aotearoa.

Our Movement keeps on winning because E tū members, other unions, community organisations, and faith groups are united for such an important common purpose – fixing poverty pay for all workers in Aotearoa.


A year of growth and progress in Southland

It has been a fantastic year of action for our union’s Just Transition work in Southland. From classic industrial organising to participating in innovative community projects, E tū is throwing everything at making sure that workers don’t bear the full brunt of economic changes in the region.

One significant highlight has been our growing membership and power at Tiwai Point, the aluminium smelter operated by Rio Tinto. The future of the company has been uncertain for a while, with their ongoing business remaining reliant on complex energy deals with the Government.

While the company itself announces different intentions about the future quite regularly, E tū members at Tiwai aren’t letting that stop them from getting on with the work of both improving conditions at the smelter today and taking practical steps to prepare for a range of possible future outcomes.

Another one of the highlights has been our growing delegate team. Aaron Officer, who became a Tiwai delegate this year, is pleased to be increasing the union presence onsite.

“The stop-work meetings were fantastic and it’s great to have more leaders on board as a result,” Aaron says.

“I’ve also really enjoyed supporting our members who needed help dealing with workplace issues.”

Another new delegate, Curtis Omelvena, says “it’s nice to be part of something and knowing you’re not alone.”

Steve Fotheringham has also joined the delegate team, and says “being a new union delegate has been great, especially the training and learning.”

Our organising isn’t just happening within the Tiwai Point gates. As prospects for the whole Southland community are affected by the future of the smelter and other local opportunities, E tū is part of wider community organising efforts to make sure the voices of working people and other stakeholders are heard.

These include our partnership with local Rūnanga through Murihiku Regeneration, and direct lobbying efforts to the Government through meetings with Hon Megan Woods, the Minister of Energy and Resources.

“It’s nice to be part of something and knowing you’re not alone.”

Curtis Omelvena

Delegates, including long-standing delegate Tony O’Driscoll, know that a community-wide strategy is the best way to go.

“The Southland Just Transition project has brought the community together to work towards a better future for Southland, regardless of staying or going,” Tony says.


All eyes on Fair Pay Agreements in cleaning and security

We are on a roll! E tū is busy collecting the signatures we need to initiate Fair Pay Agreements in cleaning and security. We already have hundreds of the 1,000 signatures we need in each industry and are planning to initiate bargaining early next year.

Workers across Aotearoa are taking this opportunity to create better lives for ourselves, our families, our communities, and future generations. Winning a Fair Pay Agreement will mean better pay and standard conditions for everyone in a particular industry.

Green MP Teanau Tuiono with E tū members Kari Daniels and Rosey Ngakopu in Palmerston North

Since the Fair Pay Agreements Act 2022 was passed in October, we’ve been travelling up and down the country with other unions on the Fair Pay Agreement Roadshow, to educate communities about this transformative new law.

E tū Youth Network Convenor and security guard, Dan Harward Jones, joined the Wellington leg of the Roadshow and found it both exciting and productive.

“It was a really good way for different unions and workers in different industries to come together and share what we have in common – the fight against low pay and poor work conditions,” Dan says.

“Together, we went to different security workplaces around Wellington and spoke to security guards about the new law. A lot of people had heard about it already. Every single guard was either keen to sign on, or keen to take information home to go read about it.”

Wellington cleaners signing up

“We also talked to a lot of people about joining E tū, and it was awesome to see people really enthusiastic about the union and our goals.”

Wellington security guards signing up

Dan says that there are clear issues to resolve in bargaining for the first Fair Pay Agreement in security.

“Better pay, that’s probably the first thing for everyone. For security guards, better training is a must as well. We also want fair and consistent hours, and of course, workplace safety.”

As cleaners’ and security guards’ work is spread out across our cities and towns, it’s a steady process to get the 1,000 signatures necessary to initiate our first E tū Fair Pay Agreements. We’re looking forward to the summer season of events, where we will be able to talk to both security guards and cleaners in greater numbers, and expect to be ready to initiate early next year.

Meanwhile, we might be on a fast track for a Fair Pay Agreement for some E tū members in hospitality, as the other hospitality union, UNITE, has been collecting signatures to initiate a Fair Pay Agreement. This will likely cover hundreds of E tū members including those working at Sky City Casino, The Cordis Hotel, and other hotels, clubs, bars, and restaurants across Aotearoa.

E tū activist and cleaner Karena Kelland during the Invercargill leg of the roadshow

While this Fair Pay Agreement will have very broad coverage, there are issues that unite many workers in hospitality, such as low pay, poor hours of work, and a lack of training and upskilling opportunities. Many people in hospitality work simply don’t have meaningful access to a union, so Fair Pay Agreements are an obvious way to fix the problems in the industry.

Public holidays over Christmas

With Christmas and New Year falling on the weekends this year, here’s a handy guide about your minimum entitlements.

Sunday 25 December 2022 – Christmas Day

Do you usually work on a Sunday?

YES – You are entitled to the public holiday.

NO – This is just an ordinary day off.

Monday 26 December 2022 –Boxing Day

Do you usually work on a Monday?

YES – You are entitled to the public holiday.
NO – This is just an ordinary day off.

Tuesday 27 December 2022 – Christmas Day (observed)

Do you usually work on a Tuesday?

YES – You are entitled to the public holiday UNLESS you already worked on Sunday 25 December.
If you worked on Christmas Day, Tuesday will be a normal working day at regular rates.

NO – This is just an ordinary day off.

Sunday 1 January 2023 – New Year’s Day

Do you usually work on a Sunday?

YES – You are entitled to the public holiday.

NO – This is just an ordinary day off.

Monday 2 January 2023 – Day After New Year’s Day

Do you usually work on a Monday?

YES – You are entitled to the public holiday.

NO – This is just an ordinary day off.

Tuesday 3 January 2023 – New Year’s Day (observed)

Do you usually work on a Tuesday?

YES – You are entitled to the public holiday UNLESS you already worked on Saturday 1 January. If you worked on New Year’s Day, Tuesday will be a normal working day at regular rates.

NO – This is just an ordinary day off.


Please remember to check your collective for any addition public holiday provisions or call E tū Support on 0800186466 or email if you have any questions.

E tū Support summer holiday hours

28-30 December: 9am – 3pm
4-20 January: 8:30am – 5pm

Back to normal hours from 23 January.