Author: E tū

Security guards’ job terms and conditions legally protected from July

Working life for Aotearoa New Zealand’s security guards is about to get a whole lot more secure, now they’ll be legally entitled to keep their job with its terms and conditions if another security company takes over the contract they’re employed on.

On 1 April, the Government added security guards as a category of employees to be protected under Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act.

For security guards, this means maintaining the terms and conditions of their original employment, such as pay and accrued leave, even when their contract with one security company ends and is taken over by another.

The new legislation will come into effect on 1 July.

E tū delegate and security guard Jayson Ormsby says the news is a “great accomplishment” for those in the industry.

“I always found it odd that security work was never secure. I feel really glad and happy for those workers who will now be protected, who may have lost a lot of entitlements due to contract changes in the past.”

E tū Organiser Mat Danaher says the inclusion of security guards as protected workers under Part 6A is a really positive step forward.

“At last, security guards will have some certainty as to their pay rate and benefits when they are moving from one contract and employer to another.

“They’ll have access to the hard-earned leave they’ve accumulated and won’t have to start from zero each time a contract changes hands.”

Jayson says he hopes the new law will be the start of a better foundation of employment conditions for guards, who are also campaigning for Fair Pay Agreements or industry-wide regulation across employers.

“Security guards are usually paid different rates at different sites, and they don’t have control over the sites they are deployed to work at – Fair Pay Agreements are definitely needed.”

Mat says the Part 6A protection is the first of many changes that are needed in order to create real certainty and security in the lives of this group of workers.

“We see this as important milestone in working towards Fair Pay Agreements, which will stop the inevitable driving down of workers’ terms and conditions in a ‘race to the bottom’ as employers compete for contracts.

“All security guards deserve certainty in their employment conditions and to be paid at least the Living Wage, regardless of the site they are working on.

“These workers provide a valuable and important service, while also often facing personal risk on the job,” Mat says.

“E tū will continue to campaign with and on behalf of security guards to see them further protected and the industry transformed.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Mat Danaher, 021 336 519

Shock redundancy proposal at Nestlé confectionery factory

Auckland’s Nestlé workers are in shock at a restructuring proposal which would see almost 40% of their site’s union members lose their jobs, with plans to stop confectionery manufacturing at the plant altogether.

On Wednesday, Nestlé revealed its plan to make around 40 workers redundant at its Wiri site, due to several of its product lines now slated to be produced in Australia and another product line proposed to be outsourced to a third-party manufacturer.

If confirmed, the redundancies would go ahead in December.

According to the proposal, the redundancies are part of a plan to completely shut down the confectionery manufacturing arm of its Wiri site.

E tū’s National Executive Northern Region Representative Gadiel Asiata, who also works in food manufacturing, says the news is a huge shock and will likely have a ripple effect on the community.

“Nestlé is one of those companies that has supported South Auckland for a long time, and it has been the main source of income for a lot of people in that community.

“It’s really sad that it’s come to this – we’re potentially losing something that generates jobs, along with workers who have been at the company for many years.”

E tū Team Leader Jen Natoli says the blow is reminiscent of the Cadbury closure in Dunedin in 2018 and serves as a stark reminder of yet another global corporate making a decision, without proper regard for how it affects workers.

Many workers have invested many years of their lives to make the company successful, she says.

“The size of the confectionery manufacturing plant and the number of jobs it provides to South Auckland workers is significant.

“When large companies, such as Nestlé, come into the country to do business and then leave when they find a better deal elsewhere, it can devastate local communities – especially now when we need to invest in recovery and rebuilding.”

Jen says should the proposal go ahead, E tū is calling on Nestlé to do the right thing to ensure none of its workers are without jobs come Christmas.

“This means redeployment, getting members’ skills credentialed and qualified, actively working with E tū to find alternative employment, and making sure those members who find new jobs are able to exit when they need to with their full redundancy entitlements.”

Jen says in the wake of COVID-19, it’s obvious that decent work not only includes decent pay and a safe work environment, but also stability and security.

Decisions need to be made with workers at the forefront, and we will be fighting to ensure Nestlé’s workers get a fair deal.”

According to the Dun & Bradstreet Business Directory, Nestlé New Zealand has 356 employees (all locations) and generated $277.79 million (USD) in in 2019.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Jen Natoli, 027 591 0041

Lifewise under fire over treatment of homecare support workers and café fundraising drive

Homecare support workers employed by Lifewise – a church charity – are resorting to picketing yet again, as the organisation continues to refuse to negotiate liveable pay and better conditions, while also facing criticism over a recent fundraising campaign.

Lifewise is a charitable trust which is a part of the Methodist Church of New Zealand. The organisation has come under fire this week, as reported by The Spinoff, about the lack of transparency in its latest fundraising drive for Merge Café – a service it runs for homeless people in Auckland.

Meanwhile, E tū Lifewise homecare support members have been striking and picketing since December for increased sick and bereavement leave and fair hours of work to be incorporated into a first-time collective agreement.

Lifewise also threatened members with three separate lockout periods in February and reneged on improved leave and conditions agreed on before the first COVID-19 lockdown.

An E tū Lifewise member, who prefers not to be named, says they feel like the organisation is ignoring them.

“It’s going on two years of negotiations now and no results. We’re voicing all the nitty gritty about what we want in our collective, but it doesn’t seem to register,” she says.

“It’s like they’re not listening, they’re not really taking our needs into consideration. It’s the necessities we’re asking for – it’s not going to break the bank.”

E tū Director Kirsty McCully says the moves by the charity are some of the most “aggressive” she’s ever seen against workers in the homecare sector.

“For the past four months, Lifewise workers have been driven to fight publicly for reasonable, simple improvements to their pay and conditions – all while their employer has tried to intimidate and disrespect with lockouts and broken promises.

“It seems like a crazy response when you consider the request: several additional days of sick and bereavement leave, and fair guaranteed hours, so that these already low-paid workers are not left struggling,” she says.

“It makes absolutely no sense to us that a church organisation, and a seemingly well-endowed one at that, is refusing to treat its own workers with integrity and to fund these modest, yet vital improvements.”

Desperation drove workers to the picket line in December, as they have now been in negotiations for their first collective agreement since mid-2019, Kirsty says.

“If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it’s the value of health and healthcare services.

“We can’t forget that Lifewise workers do jobs most of us wouldn’t or can’t – caring for the sick, elderly, and vulnerable in our communities.

“As an employer with such community standing and mission, Lifewise has a responsibility to ensure its own workers are looked after too.”

Lifewise community picket

When: Friday 19 March

Where: Outside Lifewise’s head office, 385 Queen Street, Auckland 1011

Time: 12.30pm–2.30pm

Available: Homecare delegates will be available for comment at the picket. Please contact Kirsty McCully for more information and to be put in touch with delegates.

ENDS

For more information and comment contact:
Kirsty McCully
027 204 6354

Smelter extension brings certainty to Tiwai workers and community

Tiwai workers and the Southland community will now have time to plan a proper transition with the future of the Rio Tinto smelter secured for the next four years.

On January 14, it was announced that the smelter’s owner, Rio Tinto, has signed a contract with electricity provider Meridian Energy to keep the operation open until the end of 2024.

Originally, the company had proposed to close the smelter at the end of its contract in August, potentially impacting around 1000 workers and putting many local businesses and suppliers at risk.

Delegate Owen Evans says the majority of Tiwai workers are “quite happy with the decision” about the contract extension.

“For those with big mortgages and families, it’s been a relief for them. For younger ones, it removes the panic of having to search for a job immediately,” he says.

“Workers can stay at Tiwai in the interim and have the time to upskill to other roles they may want to do in future.”

The announcement is positive for many others in the community too, Owen says.

“A lot of people – for example, those in operations, suppliers, or food places – also rely on Tiwai.”

Owen says since the closure was first proposed, it’s been a struggle to attract new workers, with many leaving the company.

He says he hopes that will change thanks to the certainty the new contract provides.

Joe Gallagher, a negotiation specialist at E tū, says the news is a “win” for workers, the union and the community to enable a ‘Just Transition’.

“Four years gives everyone a lot of time to make choices about the future – whether that’s training, looking at different industries.

“Now people have a chance to put together a plan. It’s an opportunity for all parties, including the union, to put a frame around how things will look in 2024 and beyond.”

Since the proposed closure was announced last year, E tū has called on the company and the Government for a Just Transition to make sure the impact of switching to low-carbon or alternative industries doesn’t fall disproportionately on workers and their communities.

Joe says now there’s a new opportunity to set an example of a Just Transition model.

“We can make it the gold standard for what might help other communities to deal with this same question,” he says.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

Industry Council Expression of Interest

Industry Council Expression of Interest Form

Applications must be received by 5pm on Friday 27th November 2020

E tū welcomes commitment to ‘Just Transition’ for Tiwai workers

E tū says Labour’s just transition approach will give workers and communities in Southland confidence to plan for a future with good jobs to replace those at the Tiwai Point smelter.

On Monday, the Labour Party announced its commitment to keeping the smelter open for an additional three to five years, rather than see it close in 2021 as proposed by Rio Tinto.

The extension will give the community and local leaders more time to develop a transition plan for Southland.

Tiwai delegate Owen Evans says the proposal to transition to other jobs and industries over a longer period “gives people options”.

“To get the three- to five-year extension is better for the majority. It means that a lot of young ones with big mortgages don’t have to quit straight away, and they can upskill while they’re still working.”

The transition would also allow for possible recovery of the aluminium market post-COVID-19, he says.

E tū Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher says the union supports Labour’s plan to give workers and the community more time to prepare.

“The proposed closure of Tiwai, which is due to take place in August next year, leaves little time to design and roll out new economic activity to replace jobs at the smelter,” he says.

“We’re very much in favour of a plan that will enable the development of a Just Transition for workers.”

Joe says the premise of a Just Transition is simple – it means the costs of the big structural change, such as a shift to low-carbon economy, must be spread evenly and not fall heavily and disproportionately on workers.

However, unions need to be part of the transition conversation too, Joe says.

“Just Transition is a trade union concept developed and used in many countries, including most recently in New Zealand in Taranaki. 

“E tū has been active in driving Taranaki’s transition and any just transition process needs to have active involvement from workers and their unions.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015
Alan Clarence, 027 548 2434

Proposed redundancies at NZ Steel will harm local and national economy, union says

Buying local and supporting local businesses is more important than ever, E tū says, in the wake of up to 200 redundancies proposed by BlueScope Steel.

On Thursday, the Australian-owned company who has New Zealand’s NZ Steel in Glenbrook and Pacific Steel in Otahuhu, announced its proposal to make between 150 to 200 workers redundant.

BlueScope aims to cut up to around NZ$54 million in costs, after their A$5.8 million full-year operating loss. However, they have now ruled out the closure of either Kiwi plant.

E tū member Lance Gush says members have a good collective agreement with strong terms and conditions to deal with the consultation process.

“Now it’s about maintaining what we can, working through the process to consult with the company, and minimising the impact on workers to get an outcome that’s good for everyone.

“We understand role we play in the structure of the local community and groups. We understand the business also needs to make a profit. We all want to be part of a successful business – it’s about how we do that together for the future.”

E tū negotiation specialist Joe Gallagher says the consultation process will take around seven weeks, as the collective agreement means the company is required to go through an “extensive” process with members around redundancy.

“We’re arguing the company needs to maintain workers’ incomes, their hours of work, and by any means necessary, to minimise job losses.”

While it’s some comfort that complete closure is off the cards, there is a ‘supply chain effect’ when people lose their jobs, which will not only harm the economy but many New Zealand communities, Joe says.

“For every $100 it takes to make to steel, $80 goes back into our economy – that’s a huge amount, compared to the $5 return from imported steel.

“Any redundancies will have a supply chain effect which will impact many industries, including manufacturing and construction. We’ve got to support local as well – that means cafes, gyms, and other small businesses – this is what keeps our communities alive,” Joe says.

“We have to do whatever it takes to keep local businesses going – big and small – and support each other to get through this.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

Union warns no more ‘job slashing’ in wake of Air New Zealand loss

E tū wants to see the country’s national airline carrier putting airline workers and their jobs at the centre of the aviation sector’s recovery in the wake of its reported full-year loss.

On Thursday, Air New Zealand announced an after-tax loss of $454 million for the 2020 financial year.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of workers have been made redundant, been put on furlough, or taken extended leave without pay.

An E tū cabin crew member, who prefers not to be named, says although the company had recently thanked staff and was going through cost-saving measures to protect jobs, it now needed to “put its money where its mouth is” with regards to its people.

“There’s always a fear of redundancy. I don’t think anyone feels comfortable right now or could say with 100% certainty that their job is safe.”

They say the way that the wave of redundancies was handled during the first lockdown has left a “bitter taste” behind.

“It was the speed with which the redundancies happened – the fact that people were isolated and unable to get together and talk about it. There’s a sense that there’s always the chance that [the company] could have saved more jobs.”

E tū’s Head of Aviation Savage says the “heavy-handed way” in which Air New Zealand went about its cost reductions, including its clumsy handling of fare refunds, has damaged its reputation with the public and with employees.

“They are no longer the respected brand they once were, and the approach to cost reduction via mass redundancies is not a sustainable strategy.

“Air New Zealand needs to do far better by its employees and not just always fall back on a blunt measure, like slashing jobs.”

Savage says if the airline can’t rebuild trust and ensure the safety of their staff and the travelling public, then it will struggle to recover.

“Any moves to cut more jobs, or to outsource work – like Qantas has – in order to save money and decrease the wages of working Kiwis, would severely damage its reputation even further,” he says.

“As the country’s national carrier, the airline needs to ensure there are well-paid, decent jobs, and to give workers have a proper say in what’s happening, with their voices leading the recovery.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Savage, 027 590 0074

‘Significant redundancies’ proposed and possible mill closure for steel workers

Keeping local jobs as part of the New Zealand construction industry supply chain is essential, E tū union says, after the announcement of proposed redundancies by BlueScope Steel.

On Monday, the Australian-owned company warned of its plans to lay off “a substantial number” of staff as it reduces the scale of its New Zealand sites in Otahuhu and Glenbrook.

It reported a full-year operating loss of A$5.8 million for its operations in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and has not ruled out complete closure of its Glenbrook mill.

E tū member Lance Gush, who works at New Zealand Steel’s Glenbrook mill, says while the extent of the redundancies isn’t yet known, the situation was causing anxiety for workers.

“We’ve seen press releases in Australian papers talking about mass redundancies, and it’s very concerning. The lack of information makes that worse,” he says.

“Obviously, this business is an extremely important landmark in the Glenbrook community and surrounding communities. Any layoffs would have a huge impact on the area.”

Lance says other redundancies, including voluntary redundancy and redeployment of workers, affecting up to 60 staff at Glenbrook were only formally confirmed on Friday last week.

E tū negotiation specialist Joe Gallagher says while the union acknowledges the “significant headwinds” faced by the company, such as power, carbon emissions and the competitive prices of imported steel, keeping local jobs was essential.

“Glenbrook is the only mill in the country that produces steel, and it’s really valuable to our economy. This business contributes to 1% of our GDP, with a direct benefit to the community of more than $135 million per year,” Joe says.

“One in four workers in the Glenbrook community are employed at the mill, and we’d like to see a guarantee from the Government that will ensure local procurement.”

Joe says retaining steel production onshore will keep the New Zealand construction industry strong and keep valuable production lines open, rather than relying exclusively on imported steel.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015