E tū, The Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (PSA), and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) are calling on Te Whatu Ora to stop interfering in the Care and Support Workers’ pay equity claim that has left 65,000 underpaid health workers waiting.
“For more than a year we have undergone a rigorous pay equity process. We have systematically proven and measured the undervaluation of care and support workers based on their gender,” says PSA Assistant Secretary Melissa Woolley.
The three unions filed the claim on 1 July 2022 with 15 employers that are representative of the wider care and support sector, employing around 30 percent of the workforce.
“We are disappointed that as we near the end of the process, Te Whatu Ora has interfered and overstepped its role by trying to initiate a review of work on the claim that has already been completed and received the necessary sign off,” says E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh.
Pay equity claims follow a prescribed process overseen by the Public Service Commission. Each milestone during the process is awarded appropriate signoff before advancing to the next stage and Rachel says the proposed review seeks to re-open elements of the work that have already been signed off.
“We are on the edge of a decision that would make sure care and support workers are paid fairly for what they do and that would strengthen our community-based health services. This unwarranted and damaging proposed review has significantly delayed reaching a settlement,” says caregiver and NZNO delegate Trish McKillop.
Unions have issued a legal challenge to the review.
An open letter has been launched calling on funders to provide sufficient resources to settle the claim as soon as possible and stop the interference. The letter is supported by community organisations including Grey Power, the National Council of Women, and the Council of Trade Unions.
The situation is now urgent as the Care and Support Workers Pay Equity Settlement Act is due to expire on December 31 st with no assurance of how its protections will be maintained.
“We are committed to working with the next government to ensure care and support workers receive a pay equity offer by the end of the year,” Melissa Woolley says.
The Care and Support Workers’ pay equity claim covers home support workers, aged care workers, disability support workers, and mental health and addictions workers.
Aotearoa celebrated proudly in 2017 when unions won an historic pay increase for care and support workers following landmark legal wins championed by aged care worker Kristine Bartlett. But since then, their wages have regressed back to minimum wage while the cost of living has skyrocketed.
E tū members at Graphic Packaging in Auckland are doing a rolling strike until next week to win a decent pay increase for its lowest-paid members.
Up to 60 members from the packaging production plant will be participating in the strike with daily pickets during weekdays for the duration of the industrial action.
The company’s current pay offer still falls short of what members are hoping for.
Delegate Stephen Meredith says members are feeling really disappointed at the company’s most recent offer.
“It feels disrespectful to receive a low-ball offer. Right now, almost half our membership earns under $24 an hour, which is more than $2 less than the Living Wage.
“For us, that’s the crux of the matter and that’s why we are fighting, because our lowest-paid members are struggling and deserve better, as well as trying to get others a fair and decent increase,” he says.
E tū organiser Alvy Tata says the reason for the strike is simple: winning an acceptable increase for the lowest paid members.
“This is about recognising workers’ contributions, giving them the pay increase they deserve, and lifting up those who earn the least,” she says.
“The company needs to come to the table and give these workers a proper, fair pay rise now.”
E tū members from Graphic Packaging International NZ are striking from Wednesday 4 October to Tuesday 10 October, with a picket outside Downers at 1061–645 Great South Road, Penrose, Auckland, 7am–2pm.
Early voting opened on Monday, and E tū is campaigning hard for a worker-friendly, Labour-led Government.
We kicked off our campaign at our official election launch in Māngere last month, where Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and the Green Party reaffirmed their commitments to policies that benefit workers.
At the event, the PM also launched the party’s workplace relations policy, which includes continued regular increases to the minimum wage, paying the Living Wage to employees and contracted workers across the education and health sectors, and removing the discriminatory practice of youth and training rates.
Now that the election campaign is in full swing, the parties have announced their full list of commitments.
In the table above, you can see the stark contrast between a progressive and ambitious Labour-led Government, and a National-led Government that seems to be about supporting business and the wealthy few.
With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, the most important thing we can all do is make sure everyone we know is voting for a progressive, Labour-led Government.
Historically, we have seen that people who don’t vote tend to be lower paid, younger, or in ethnic minorities – just some of the communities that most need effective representatives in Parliament and progressive policy.
Get out and vote yourself, but give yourself the challenge of talking to five whānau members, friends, or workmates who might not vote or might be voting for the first time, and encourage them to ensure their voice is heard.
E tū is also running phone banks, with members calling each other to talk about the election. If you’re interested in getting involved with this or other election campaign activities, please email email@example.com to sign up.
Final week of membership meetings
Thousands of E tū members across Aotearoa turned out for their BMM or Biennial Membership Meeting – a special membership meeting that only takes place once every two years.
At the meetings, we discussed the direction of the union, and members who attended were able to vote for the people that will represent you on our National Executive for the next two-year team.
If you came to a BMM, we would love your feedback! Click the button below to take our quick two-minute survey.
Labour, Greens commit to Living Wage for health and education
On Friday, E tū members, community, and faith-based groups came together for the Living Wage Forums in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.
We heard from community and political leaders, with Labour and the Greens committing to extending the Living Wage to healthcare and education workers if they form the next government.
It was also the first time that we held a ‘hybrid’ forum, with live streaming between all three locations so each forum had the chance to hear from speakers in all three cities.
Fisher & Paykel members take action!
Following the breakdown of collective agreement negotiations, Fisher & Paykel members took it in turns to picket before and after their shifts this week.
Members are angry that the company came directly to them with proposed changes to their collective agreement, rather than giving the union the opportunity to do so.
Changes the employer is demanding include creating Saturday and Sunday shifts at normal pay, introducing flexible shift times, and removing the need for union approval around hiring part-time employees.
Delegate Chris Burton says it’s been more than 20 years since members took industrial action and they are feeling upset at the proposals.
“The company wants to jump the gun and go straight to the members. They say it’s their right to communicate but we said, ‘This is not the way we want to do it.’”
Open letter to launch for pay equity for care and support workers
E tū and other unions have spent the last 18 months working on a pay equity process that will resolve the issue of underpayment once and for all for the 65,000 workers across the country who do care and support mahi.
If you work in care and support, you should have had an opportunity to attend a meeting about this over the last few weeks. If not, look out for more invites coming soon.
We have nearly achieved pay equity but we need a final push. We’ll be posting an open letter later on this week – so keep an eye out on social media to sign and share.
We also need to ensure we re-elect a government that is committed to real pay equity.
New members’ meeting in October
Have you recently joined E tū? Come along to a new member welcome meeting and learn about your union and tools to support you.
All meetings take place on Zoom. Click on the link to register for a time that suits!
E tū members all over Aotearoa are making clear their intention to vote in the General Election.
Make the commitment by filling our Pledge to Vote HERE (if you haven’t already), and pass it on to share with workmates, whānau, friends, and your community.
We need everyone to get out and vote for a Labour-led Government, so we can ensure our voices are heard and we keep everything that we’ve worked so hard for!
Cleaners’ strike continues
Last week, cleaners working for cleaning company OCS took strike action again – this time at Auckland Airport, with a picket outside the domestic terminal.
OCS is refusing to come to the table with a pay increase for these workers, as one of the companies in bargaining for the new cleaners’ Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA).
Jacqueline Davis, one of the cleaners who went on strike, says the zero offer shows the companies don’t care about their workers.
“Personally, I think they just don’t give a damn about us. We’re nothing in their eyes, we’re just the little cleaners.
“OCS and all the other companies need to treat us with respect. If it wasn’t for us cleaners, the airport would be a hell of a mess. They need to treat us like people, we are sick of being treated like doormats.”
Strike action is planned to continue until OCS cleaners are offered a fair pay rise.
People working for Living Wage Employers are now entitled to this new rate, as are thousands of workers across the public sector, where E tū has won Living Wage victories.
Diversional therapists meet in Wellington
Do you know what the role of a diversional therapist is?
Diversional and recreational therapists support people with physical and developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, and age-related conditions like dementia.
They organise and facilitate creative and engaging programmes for the clients to increase their psycho-social health.
In mid-August, E tū members working at diversional therapists joined the annual conference for workers in their profession. It was a great chance to come together, connect, and attend a range of workshops.
E tū co-president Muriel Tunoho also gave a presentation (to standing ovation!) on employment rights, including E tū members’ current fight for pay equity for care and support workers.
E tū offices on the move
Our Wellington office is now moving into the city!
From 11 September, our new Wellington office address is:
Level 12, 79 Boulcott Street
Please note that the Whangarei office is now closed permanently. If you need to get in touch with an organiser in this area, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
New to E tū? Come to a welcome meeting
Learn more about how E tū can support you, how to use our digital tools, and more!
Click on the link of your preferred time to register.
Auckland Te Ohu Whakawhanaunga launch – Wednesday 6 September, 6pm-8pm Lesieli Tonga Auditorium, 143 Favona Road, Māngere CLICK HERE to register now
E tū Election Campaign Launch – Saturday 16 September, 12pm EFKS Church, 43 Thomas Road, Māngere, Auckland CLICK HERE to register now
Climate Action Week – Monday 18 September to Sunday 24 September Nationwide events, CLICK HERE for more.
Living Wage Forums – Friday 29 September, 6.30pm-8pm Auckland: Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, 27 Galway Street, Onehunga Wellington: St Peters on Willis, Willis Street, Wellington Christchurch: Aldersgate Centre, 309 Durham Street, Christchurch
Cleaners at Auckland Airport will be stopping work today and going on strike, after their employer OCS has offered zero increase in recent negotiations.
The workers will strike in groups and will be on a picket line at the Auckland Domestic Terminal (Air New Zealand side) from 1:30pm until 2:30pm.
OCS is one of the parties to the multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) for commercial cleaners, which also includes ISS, City Cleaning, PPCS, Total Property Services (TPS), Millennium, Kleenrite, Watershed, United Cleaning Services, and Westferry. These companies hold some of the biggest cleaning contracts across both the public and private sector.
While the MECA has been settled with some margin above the minimum wage in previous years, this time the employers aren’t budging.
Jacqueline Davis, an airport cleaner who will be going on strike today, says the zero offer shows the companies don’t care about their workers.
“Personally, I think they just don’t give a damn about us. We’re nothing in their eyes, we’re just the little cleaners,” Jacqueline says.
“OCS and all the other companies need to treat us with respect. If it wasn’t for us cleaners, the airport would be a hell of a mess. They need to treat us like people, we are sick of being treated like doormats.”
E tū has been campaigning for the Living Wage for cleaners. Jacqueline says getting the Living Wage would be a huge help, including for her health.
“Right now, if I get sick, I can’t afford to take the day off or go to the doctor. I had to use up all my sick leave after an accident, so I simply have no choice.
“Getting a decent wage would mean not having to worry about finding the money for a simple day off and a doctor’s visit.”
E tū Director, Sarah Thompson, says OCS and the other cleaning companies need to step up.
“This is such a harsh position from the employer group,” Sarah says.
“It shows that they just don’t value the essential work of cleaners like Jacqueline and thousands of others.”
Sarah says it’s a clear demonstration of why cleaners need a Fair Pay Agreement.
“Right now, we’re getting ready to bargain the very first Fair Pay Agreement for the cleaning industry, which will be the best opportunity in decades to really improve things for this essential workforce.
“The National and ACT parties have promised to scrap Fair Pay Agreements before they even get started. It’s another slap in the face to working people like Jacqueline, and we can’t let that happen.”
Check out the latest edition of our online magazine!
This issue, we feature a spotlight on the aviation industry (a new magazine feature!), updates on our important campaigns, a report from our Delegate Forums, an article by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, and much more.
At the end of July, E tū members working as cleaners for major cleaning companies currently bargaining for a new MECA (multi-employer collective agreement) took action after a zero offer pay rise.
Their employers – OCS, ISS, City Cleaning, PPCS, Total Property Services (TPS), Millennium, Kleenrite, Watershed, United Cleaning Services, and Westferry – refused to give workers a single cent over the minimum wage, even though in past MECAs they have paid 30 cents above this.
Auckland Airport cleaner Jackie Clark says getting no offer is stressful and workers don’t feel respected. “We have whānau to feed, rent and other bills to pay. It’s also affecting our health physically and mentally, and these cleaning companies don’t care.”
The zero-offer shows is exactly why cleaners need a Fair Pay Agreement – to stop the race to the bottom on wages. With E tū initiating Fair Pay Agreements for both cleaners and security workers, we are on track to finally be able to negotiate for what we know these essential workers really deserve!
Keep an eye out on social media for upcoming action and how you can support.
From the picket line to third collective!
Lifewise members have a new collective agreement. Ratified last week, members will now be able to take a defensive driving course and first aid courses for free. They also won the right to long service after 15 and 20 years, a $500 Pak’n’Save voucher, and a special fund to assist members taking bereavement leave has been doubled.
Delegate Maggie Greig says it’s a good outcome. “It feels really good that we’ve got the ball rolling and the momentum of improving our work conditions. It’s awesome, and it’s makes it better for the new staff coming on too. With every new collective, we’re gradually improving lives for Lifewise members.”
It shows how far Lifewise have come since members needed to take strike action in 2021/22 to win their first ever collective agreement.
Solid pay rises for packaging workers
Members at Oji Packaging at six sites around the country got a great deal for their next three-year collective agreement, winning a pay increase of 7.5% and then 5% per year after that for the term of the agreement.
Delegate Barry Jackson from Christchurch says, “it’s probably the biggest offer we’ve had in most people’s memories, and everyone was really happy.”
E tū Election campaign kicks off
We want members and workers to keep the gains that we’ve all fought so hard for – legislation like Fair Pay Agreements, 10 days’ sick leave, and decent minimum wage increases.
This General Election, we’ll be campaigning hard for a Labour-led government and we need your support.
As most members will already be aware, E tū’s National Secretary, Bill Newson, is stepping down from his position in late November.
From then until the next Biennial Conference (where you’ll officially elect a new National Secretary), the E tū National Executive has officially endorsed E tū Co-Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh to take over Bill’s role.
New to E tū?
If you’re new to the union and would like to meet other new members and learn more about how E tū can support you, come to our next online new member meeting.
Click on the link of your preferred time below to register.
Cleaners employed by multiple large cleaning companies will form a picket line today in Auckland as the companies have offered them nothing at all in recent negotiations. The picket will be outside a special general meeting of the Building Service Contractors of New Zealand, the employer association for cleaning companies.
E tū members have been in negotiations for the multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) for commercial cleaners seeking a pay increase to the Living Wage and other improvements to conditions, such as the provision of first-aid kits.
The employer representatives have offered nothing at all – not even the 30c above the minimum wage which has been negotiated in previous terms of the agreement.
The employer parties to the MECA are OCS, ISS, City Cleaning, PPCS, Total Property Services (TPS), Millennium, Kleenrite, Watershed, United Cleaning Services, and Westferry. These companies hold some of the biggest cleaning contracts across both the public and private sector.
“We feel that cleaning companies don’t care about the cleaners, and they don’t respect us,” says Jackie Clark, cleaner at Auckland International Airport.
“Getting no offer is stressful for us. We have whānau to feed, and rent and other bills to pay. It’s also affecting our health physically and mentally, and these cleaning companies don’t care.
“We’re doing this for all the cleaners around the country, because we deserve more.”
E tū Director Sarah Thompson says the zero-offer is a particularly stubborn position.
“Although cleaners have traditionally been paid near the minimum wage, we have usually been able to negotiate some increases above that rate in MECA bargaining,” Sarah says.
“For companies to not budge even one cent above the minimum wage is unprecedented and frankly insulting, especially during a cost-of-living crisis.”
Sarah says the employers’ position is a clear demonstration of the need for a Fair Pay Agreement in the cleaning industry.
“We’ve initiated bargaining for a Fair Pay Agreement for cleaners because our members are sick and tired of being undervalued for so long.
“When employers are committed to offering literally nothing to their own workers, the system is broken. We need to negotiate a Fair Pay Agreement that truly values the essential work of cleaners across Aotearoa, and that’s why E tū will be campaigning to re-elect a Labour-led Government which will keep this vital mechanism in place.”
This will mean that no matter which cleaning company they work for, all cleaners will have the same base pay, rights and protections on the job – even if they don’t belong to a union.
It also means union members on collective agreements can keep bargaining for better terms and conditions.
Cleaner and mum of two Iunisi Fainga’anuku says an FPA is very important not just to her but to her whole whānau.
“[Because I’ll get paid more], it means I’ll be able to work fewer hours and spend more time with my kids. It will also help cleaners to get health and safety training – we work with lots of different chemicals and worry that they might be harmful to our health,” she says.
Your organising wins
Members at elevator engineering company Kone have finally settled their latest collective agreement for another three-year term. The new agreement includes a pay increase of at least 14% over three years, and free union membership for new and existing members. Both can now claim to have their membership fees reimbursed. Now that’s a power lift!
Spotless hospital service workers
Spotless members working as kitchen and cleaning staff at Te Whatu Ora in the Bay of Islands, Kaitaia, Rotorua, Kenepuru, and Wellington hospitals, had a major win after they filed strike notices in June.
Spotless hadn’t signed off on their collective agreements, which were ratified by members back in March. The morning before they were due to strike, the company finally signed everything off so the members could get their pay rise. Wellington members (above) were quick to celebrate!
Photo exhibition by E tū leader celebrates 20 years of gardens
E tū National Executive member, delegate, and union leader Jason Fell recently opened his latest photo exhibition, based around the university grounds where he’s worked for more than 20 years and represented E tū members as a delegate.
Mā ngā Karu o he Kaitiaki māra – Custodian of the Grounds runs at Old Government House, 24 Princes Street, Auckland, until 4 August.
New law supports health and safety reps
New Zealand now has a new law that means all workers are entitled to have an election for a health and safety representative if they ask for one. Before this, smaller, “low risk” businesses could refuse this request.
Before this, most employers with fewer than 20 workers could refuse to have workers participate in their own health and safety.
In June, the Health and Safety at Work Act was amended, delivering a big win for E tū members who campaigned for the law to be changed.
Businesses now also have a to establish a health and safety committee if a health and safety rep or five or more workers ask for one.