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Leading through service

Elected in July, Gadiel Asiata is E tū’s new Co-President. A member of the E tū National Executive and Northern Region Convenor for Komiti Pasefika with many years of leadership experience in unions, Gadiel is also running for the Manurewa Local Board in the local body elections this October.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I’m the youngest of nine. My mum and dad moved to New Zealand from Samoa in the 1960s due to the labour shortage back in the day, to start a family here and give us the best opportunities that we could have. They also sent money back home. Outside of my community and union work, I do a night shift as a technical specialist at Griffins, training staff and overseeing that on the factory floor.

How did you come to be involved in unions?

Being the youngest, I was the last of my siblings living at home with my parents, so when I finished high school I didn’t have the opportunity to further my studies because we had a mortgage to pay. My first job when I was 18 was at a cheese factory (now owned by Fonterra) on the assembly line. It didn’t sit right with me the way management treated and spoke to our people. One day I stood up to management and was called into a disciplinary. I remembered my parents saying to get hold of the union. I didn’t even know what a union was. But I managed to save myself and my job. After the meeting, the organiser asked me if I wanted to be a delegate. I asked, “What does that mean?” He told me it was a chance to stand up for people. “Sign me up!” I said. That was how I became a delegate for the Dairy Workers Union. At 18, after going to my FIRST Union conference, I also became the convenor of their Rūnanga. I held both positions until I was made redundant from Fonterra in 2007.

What does a typical day look like for you right now?

I do a 12am–8am shift at Griffins to pay the wages. Then I’m out and about door knocking and meeting up with people in the community for at least four hours in the morning. I’m also making sure the community is ok as many lost their jobs during
Covid-19, so I’m involved with a Pacific Vibes Market where local people can bring food, baking, and arts and crafts to sell. I take two choir groups at my church, where I’m a music director. It’s really fulfilling – teaching and hearing what I’ve put together come out. My ministry – the way I give back to God – is through music.

You’re the first E tū Co-President of Pasefika descent. What does it mean to you to be elected to this position?

I would like to give back to the union what they’ve given me over the years, bringing my own Pasefika flair to it as well, and show the diversity of E tū. I want to lead from the heart and to privilege the voices of all workers. Being born in New Zealand but with Samoan heritage, I feel comfortable in traversing the different cultures in our union.

What motivates you to lead in your community?

I’ve always been taught to lead a life of service, and I stand on my parents’ shoulders and those of many other people. Leadership for us is leading through service. Whatever contribution I have to give, it’s for the greater good of people and to watch our communities flourish.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I play a couple of instruments, so I like to spend time on my piano. I also love spending quality time with my mum and those who are close to me – even if it’s just getting a coffee. Every moment is precious.

What’s one thing E tū members may be surprised to learn about you?

I’m actually a fraternal twin. He’s totally the opposite to me – tall and a rugby league player! But I’m the matai in our family.

Porirua City Council to become Living Wage accredited

After 10 years of campaigning, community leaders in Porirua are excited that workers employed by contractors will be paid at least the Living Wage when contracts are renewed, as the council takes the step of becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Porirua will join other accredited councils including their neighbours, Wellington City Council and Hutt City Council.

Porirua City Council cleaner, Salota Sami, is “100% happy” to be getting the Living Wage.

“This means I can put money towards my dream of taking my children back to the Islands one day. It also helps with paying for my medication and looking after my health.”

As we approach the local elections in October, local Living Wage networks across Aotearoa are gearing up to make sure candidates are making strong Living Wage commitments. Porirua City Council joining the growing list of accredited councils demonstrates the real momentum our council campaigns are having across the country!

Living Wage rate goes up to $23.65 on 1 September

The Living Wage moves up every year, with the new rate announced on 1 April and coming into effect on 1 September. This means that everyone both directly and indirectly employed by accredited Living Wage Employers will be getting at least $23.65 per hour from September.

Most years, the Living Wage moves up based on a calculation of the increase in the average annual earnings, which is one way of measuring inflation. Every five years, the rate is completely recalculated to make sure that it stays relevant and based on the latest factors, including day to day costs and changes to government support. This will happen in 2023, when a fully reviewed rate will be announced in April.

Workers at the centre of industry transformation

It’s not every day that fisheries worker Lavina Rickard gets to sit down with chief executives and talk about putting workers first in a changing industry.

A supervisor at Sanford’s fish factory in Havelock, Lavina has been working hard over the past two years to make sure workers have a voice in a new industry plan for the manufacturing sector.

It’s a tripartite plan that was created by Government, business and unions, with Māori input from all three streams, to create a positive future for the sector.

Known as the Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) for Advanced Manufacturing, it was launched on 1 June. Some of the main priorities of the ITP are to invest in new technologies to lift productivity and wages, to ensure all workers have a plan to develop their skills, and to reduce the sector’s carbon emissions to zero.

A leader of the skills working group for the plan, as well as a member of the main steering group, Lavina says she has really emphasised the need for workers to upskill.

“Many workers are afraid of losing their jobs when new technology arrives, but that doesn’t have to be the case,” she says.

“Skilled workers can become technicians and companies will need to pay them more.

“The discussions with our working group have been constructive. I’ve said to them that with the training and upskilling, you also need to look at the management side of the business as well. You’ve got to create a culture that’s about retaining and attracting workers. Culture is very important,” she says.

Rachel Mackintosh, Vice-President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and an E tū Assistant National Secretary, is a co-chair of the plan’s steering group.

NZCTU Vice-President Rachel Mackintosh (left) at the launch event

“The plan aims to transform the industry. Putting people and wellbeing at the centre of the plan gives us hope for a better life for union members working in the industry, and also for their whānau and communities,” she says.

“All workers in the industry can be engaged as the plan is rolled out. With the foundation that Lavina’s and others’ work has laid, workers can have a voice in their futures and make manufacturing a great place to work, with good skills and decent pay.

“As our member Edwin Ikani says, it’s about unleashing the creative potential of the workers. Then we all benefit.”

Social procurement for a Just Transition in Southland

Union members and our community allies in Southland have explored the concept of social procurement, and what it means for a Just Transition, in a recent symposium.

The Social Procurement Symposium was co-hosted by E tū and Murihiku Regeneration to build a consensus in the Southland community about the use of private and public procurement.

At the heart of social procurement is the simple idea that when making decisions to buy goods and services, governments and organisations need to look beyond just the immediate cost and consider the wider impact that their procurement has on society.

Good social procurement means workers getting decent work, such as a minimum of a Living Wage and secure employment, which has flow-on effects in local economies. It means keeping environmental and economic sustainability front and centre. It also means proper engagement with affected communities to ensure their needs are being met.

People at the symposium heard from experts, Tania Pouwhare from Auckland Council’s The Southern Initiative, and Craig Renney, from the Council of Trade Unions.

Karena Kelland, a member of E tū’s Public and Commercial Services Industry Council, got a lot out of the symposium.

“I found the event very good. I just think that social procurement is exactly what we need, on our society as a whole. I truly believe that it will deliver Decent Work to those who have been excluded before”, Karena says.

“Personally, I try to shop locally, and I want to be able to shop Living Wage as well.”

“Tania made a good point that Māori and Pasefika have basically been left behind. If you have a conscience, then you need to give workers more than the bare minimum. People should be paid what they’re worth.”

Karena says that lifting wages is a fundamental part of social procurement, because it benefits everyone in the area, and that her city council and local businesses should step up.

“We need to pay the Living Wage across the community. I think the Invercargill City Council needs to become an accredited council. A comment was made in a work group that we could identify firms that already pay the Living Wage, and make them local champions for the Living Wage Movement.

“Personally, I try to shop locally, and I want to be able to shop Living Wage as well.”

1,100 submissions for Fair Pay Agreements

E tū members and supporters have knocked it out of the park! When submissions closed in May, more than 1,100 people had used E tū’s online submission tool to let Parliament know why Fair Pay Agreements will be so important to us.

E tū members and supporters made the majority of submissions on this bill, as the total number of submissions received by Parliament was 1,852. Many of the other submissions came from our allies in community organisations and other unions supporting the bill.

There were common themes throughout many of the submissions. Workers want better pay, proper training, decent health and safety, better workplace cultures, and a real say in workplace decision making.

Submissions also included reports that many members are going through real hardship. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the impacts of inequality, and with the price of essentials like housing and groceries growing rapidly, good Fair Pay Agreements legislation is urgent.

Delegations of E tū members in both Auckland and Wellington appeared before the Select Committee to make oral submissions, telling their stories directly to the Members of Parliament. Rosey Ngakopu, a Wellington security guard and dedicated E tū activist,
said it was about a fair go for all.

“Everyone deserves fairness, equality, dignity, and wellbeing at work,” Rosey said.

“Workers in Aotearoa New Zealand need better pay, better conditions, better protections, and better involvement in decision making.”

Rosey said that while it was great to see the bill before Parliament, E tū was advocating for some improvements. A big one for Rosey was the inclusion of health and safety as an issue that was mandatory to agree on, not just to discuss.

What happens next?

We expect The Fair Pay Agreements Bill to have its Third Reading in Parliament in October. Shortly after that, the bill becomes law, and we can begin to initiate the first Fair Pay Agreements!

Initiation will require 1,000 workers or 10% of a workforce (whichever number is smaller) to sign on, calling for a Fair Pay Agreement.

Bargaining parties will be formed, with both employers and workers (through their unions) democratically selecting people to represent them.

Once negotiations have finished, all workers and employers affected by the Fair Pay Agreement will have the chance to vote on it. If no agreement can be reached, then the Fair Pay Agreement goes to a neutral arbitrator at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), to make a final decision.

Anyone employed in the industry covered by the Fair Pay Agreement will have pay and conditions that are at least as good as the new minimum standards laid out in the Fair Pay Agreement – a brilliant new legal right!

Local elections: your voice matters!

Efeso Collins addresses the E tū Biennial Conference

Leaflets are being delivered and billboards are popping up across the country as we get close to the 2022 local elections. This is your chance to vote for mayors, councillors, and other officials who will make important decisions on behalf of your local community.

Councils have a huge responsibility for the things that affect our everyday lives. From day-to-day decisions like rubbish collection and setting rates, to long term challenges like housing, transport infrastructure, civil defence preparedness, and climate change mitigation, the people who we elect this year will have big jobs to do.

E tū is always involved in local elections. As well as having a vested interest in making sure local politics serves E tū members, we also recognise the powers councils have as employers. For both directly employed workers and those employed by contractors, councils are some of the biggest employers in the country. That is why we have fought with our community allies to have paying the Living Wage at the top of council agendas every election.

Auckland needs Efeso

Auckland councillor and E tū member Efeso Collins has thrown his hat in the ring for one of Aotearoa’s most important jobs: Mayor of Auckland. An Auckland councillor since 2016, Efeso has stood firm as a champion for developing strong communities. He is particularly focused on housing, transport, urban development, and climate change mitigation.

Efeso knows the importance of workers and our unions getting involved in local elections.

“Unions represent a collective of people who can often feel left out of the decisions,” Efeso says.

“It’s very important to give a voice to the concerns that affect working people the most. Councils can have a huge role in improving things for workers, from paying the Living Wage to everyone they are responsible for, to making sure that housing is both decent and affordable.

“I don’t just ask ‘what is the future of the city’, I ask ‘who is the future of the city’. There’s no question that we need a people-oriented approach if we are going to keep designing a future for our cities that we can be proud of.”

One particularly exciting policy that Efeso is taking to the election is a commitment to fare-free public transport. Efeso describes this as a “quadruple win”.

“Fares-free public transport will alleviate some of the burdens of the cost of living, it will reduce congestion on the roads, it will help local economic development by connecting up our suburbs, and of course it will help us tackle climate change.”

E tū has officially endorsed Efeso Collins for Mayor of Auckland. Vote for Efeso Collins – and get your friends and whānau to do the same!

Decent Work: E tū, e puta, karawhiua!

E tū Biennial Conference 2022

Delegates and representatives from across the country and all E tū industries gathered in Auckland in July for two days of action, learning, and solidarity at our Biennial Conference 2022. The conference theme was Decent Work – E tū, e puta, e karawhiua, which translates as ‘get up, get out there, get active’. The programme was jam-packed with speakers and sessions exploring the many facets of Decent Work.

As the highest decision-making body in E tū, the conference debated remits to keep our union strong and accountable, including officially enshrining Decent Work as a core union objective. A range of local and international guests shared stories from across the trade union movement. Carl Leinonen, a union campaign coordinator in the global arm of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said he was “ecstatic” to be joining us in person, because our campaigns for Decent Work and Fair Pay Agreements in particular are world-leading.

National Secretary Bill Newson and our Co-Presidents Muriel Tunoho and Gadiel Asiata

Youth Network Convenor Dan Harward Jones

E tū cleaner and Komiti Pasefika activist, Malia Motusaga, had a great time at the Conference. “I really liked the first day, which was all about celebration. We welcomed our new Co-President, and I liked hearing from all the brothers and sisters across our different industries,” Malia says. “It was especially good to hear all the support for Fair Pay Agreements. I thought Auckland Mayoral candidate Efeso Collins was great. He was really encouraging to all the members for what we are doing, and for our hard work. He’s all about the people.”

Malia won the prestigious E tū Activist of the Year award, for her ongoing support of her fellow members and relentless commitment to our union’s campaigns. She says the award was a big surprise. “I was shocked, I wasn’t expecting that. To be honest, the work I do is for my love for all the hardworking cleaners and security guards out there. I appreciate the award, and I just want to thank members for their hard work – keep doing what you’re doing.” It was the first E tū conference for our new Youth Network Convenor, Dan Harward Jones, who particularly enjoyed the opportunity to chat with his fellow delegates.

“My favourite part was meeting members and activists from our wide range of industries,” Dan says. “It’s refreshing to hear about diverse challenges and reassuring to learn how much we have in common. “I learned heaps about solidarity from outside our union. There’s a world of organising and activism in Aotearoa and even overseas that actually links with E tū’s kaupapa, which was amazing to see.”

As the new Youth Network Convenor, Dan says it’s important to encourage young people to get involved with union activities.

“We’re not just the future of the union movement – we’re here right now! Our generation are some of the most vulnerable to exploitation, but also some of the most socially aware. That energy and hope will make real change for our union and workers everywhere.”

Iunisi Faingaanuku tells the conference about her involvement in the Fair Pay Agreements campaign

New Life Member, Bruce Habgood

Carl Leinonen, SEIU

The conference delegates!

Editorial: Standing up for Decent Work

Welcome to this latest edition of our union magazine. I hope you had the opportunity to observe our first Matariki paid public holiday in a special way on 24 June. The appearance of the Matariki cluster of stars in our night sky marks the start of the traditional Māori new year and it provides a unique time to reflect and look ahead.

Just like working people globally, E tū members have been experiencing the tough impact of increased inflation on already stretched family and personal living costs.

Notwithstanding the Covid-19-related disruption across some industries, the importance of a Living Wage as a minimum rate and wage increases that protect our incomes against inflation are more important now than they have ever been.

I acknowledge E tū members across various companies and industries who are standing up together for a fairer deal, including members at ETEL and Assa Abloy in Auckland who have taken strike action to improve their collective agreement outcomes.

It is in the tough times that we see the need for a safety platform of improved minimum employment conditions more clearly. E tū is leading a campaign to support Fair Pay Agreement (FPAs) legislation and stop the “race to the bottom” on workers’ wages. My
thanks to all members who supported us by writing submissions and appearing at the select committee.

We can judge how effective FPAs will be for working people by the well-funded campaign by employer interest groups to undermine them. A notorious example was the “fake news” by Business NZ claiming that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) had condemned FPAs, when in fact the ILO did no such thing.

E tū also has its sights on the issue of exploitative “dependent contracting” employment models that push all of the risk onto the shoulders of those who can least afford it, with little reward.

E tū and FIRST Union are working together on a legal challenge to the Uber driver contract model. The court case has just wrapped up, and we expect the result in the next few weeks.

We have also participated in a tripartite working group reviewing regulatory protection for those who miss out on basic employment rights and protections because they are deemed to be “contractors” when they are not, and we will be focused on achieving policy improvements with the Government.

In the last edition of this magazine, I reported that we were advocating for continued apprentice training support, and it was great to see our Government extend the Apprentice Boost programme in the recent budget. The strength of our union is reflected in the depth of our democracy and E tū has very deep union democracy. I acknowledge and thank our workplace delegates who attended our 2022  Delegate Forums, and attended the E tū Biennial Conference on 20 and 21 July, the highest policy making body in our union.

Conference brings together elected E tū representatives, who provide the voice of membership from across the industries, regions and diversity of our great union, to review the work of the union over the past two years and to look to the future.

Decent Work was the theme of this year’s E tū Conference. As industry rebuilds from Covid-19, productivity demands will compound the already escalating pace of workplace change driven by technological transformation and future decarbonisation of jobs. This conference was a defining event in staking our claim on what Decent Work should look like in that future of work.

At the conference, we also confirmed our new Co-President, Gadiel Asiata, who features in the member profile of this magazine. I also want to acknowledge our former Co-President Don Pryde, who served EPMU and E tū members for a long time. We thank Don for his huge commitment to our union and working people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In closing, I acknowledge NZ Steel Health and Safety Representative Lester Udy who was a top nominee for Health and Safety Representative of the Year at the recent SafeGuard Health and Safety Awards.

Covid-19 will continue to impact on health and well-being during the winter period and we need to remain cautious and practise the generally accepted health measures, including vaccination and wearing a mask where there is a risk.

Please take the time to read our magazine and, on behalf of our National Executive, thank you for being an E tū member.


E tū National Executive

Strike action by Air New Zealand crew leaders leads to Living Wage breakthrough

Strike action by Air New Zealand cabin crew leaders has almost won the day with an agreement in principle that all crew will now start on the Living Wage rate or above and fly on any wide body aircraft.


Forty-four onboard crew leaders, responsible for the inflight and regulatory training of new crew, were on strike for 30 days in a row. The strike was a ban on training in order to focus attention on working conditions for returning crew.


While it hasn’t impacted the traveling public, it has meant a delay in getting new crew signed off to return to work.


Despite their years of experience, crew returning to work after being made redundant during the Covid crisis were put back onto the airline’s minimum start rates, with no recognition of their skills and years of experience.

Another reason for the strike was concern about crew’s work hours on direct flights to New York, which would see them potentially working up to 22 hours.

Two E tū delegates, who were also on the bargaining team, say the strike action was about “paying it forward” and improving conditions in the long run for their lower paid colleagues.

Delegate Sandie Bartlett admits that the situation was tough for everyone, with the strike impacting on the very crew it was trying to help.

“We just had to keep saying to the returning crew, ‘Hang in there with us, just let us try to get something for you and before you know it you’ll be on the aircraft and [the strike] will be a distant memory.’

Another delegate, Tony Krauth says timing the strikes for when returning crew were being rehired on new contracts was “absolutely critical” to getting a good outcome and lifting their conditions.

“We felt compelled, without question, to act on the remuneration imbalance we saw for returning crew,” he says.

“To our mind, it left us with no other option than to take industrial action. It was our one chance to spotlight the minimum wage issue.”

Tony says the issue of crew working up to 22 hours in the case of delay on the New York route is still unresolved with no clear improvements for crew.

Crew will need to work to the upper limits of the 22 hour provision to receive the additional allowance incentives, but in reality these may rarely be earned, he says.

“We’re hopeful that our returning crew will find their feet over the next two years and have the resolve to significantly improve the 22-hour duty limitation terms and conditions.”