Author: E tū

Cloud Ocean job losses “disappointing” says E tū

E tū, the union at Cloud Ocean, says it met today with site management and its union delegates to discuss the company proposal to lay off 125 of the 160 strong work force.

E tū Industry Coordinator (Manufacturing & Food), Phil Knight says the company has been difficult to work with but it’s disappointing things have come to this.

“This is hard news for the workers, and we will be talking with our members about a response to the proposal, and doubtless seeking compensation for the loss of their jobs and income, as well as commitments around re-employment should the plant resume operations,” says Phil.

He says he’s hopeful most workers will find jobs in the event the plant shuts down.

“They’re good workers and any of the businesses crying out for people with a good work ethic and production skills would benefit from offering them employment.”

Phil says the union has no view on the controversy surrounding the company’s use of water from the local aquifer.

“The thing for us is whether they’ve been a fair and reasonable employer and contributed to the Christchurch economy, and the fact is they haven’t,” says Phil.

“These are permanent workers on pretty much minimum wages and conditions, and the work is precarious – they’ve faced constant changes of shift and shift cancellations at short notice.

“It’s had a high turnover because of the very poor conditions,” he says.

Phil says the company seems to have been disorganised from the start.

“There appears to have been little due diligence to ensure they had a market to supply, to as well as what’s required to run a business in New Zealand. They’ve been applying practices that may be commonplace in China but not acceptable in New Zealand.”

Phil says that includes constant breaches of health and safety, basic employment conditions and Holiday Act provisions.

Phil acknowledged few in Canterbury will be sad to hear the plant is likely to close.

“Besides wages, Cloud Ocean has contributed little to Christchurch, with materials including the plastic bottles, boxes and equipment all imported from overseas.

“But there is an opportunity to at least ensure any worker losing their job through this is treated right, and to look after staff properly if they do get production underway again.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator (Manufacturing & Food) ph. 027 591 0053

E tū urges NZTA to lift funding for VTNZ

E tū has written to Mark Ratcliffe, the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Transport Agency, urging the Agency to improve funding for VTNZ so its workers can be fairly paid.

VTNZ driving test and vehicle testing officials took strike action on Monday for 24 hours in protest over their pay.

The driving test officials earn between $21.00 and $22.50, which members say doesn’t reflect their skills and experience, nor the on the job hazards. Vehicle testing officials also earn below the industry standard.

E tū Lead Organiser, Dayna Townsend says driving test officials have been trying to improve their basic pay scale since 2014 when NZTA awarded the driver testing contract to VTNZ.

Before then, Dayna says the AA had the contract “and the starting rate for driving testers was higher then than the highest paid rate for them now. As well as the higher pay, they had allowances which also boosted their pay.

“Vehicle testers are also at the bottom of the mechanics scale.

“NZTA funding for VTNZ is too low to ensure these workers are fairly paid,” says Dayna.

“This is a huge problem for our members wherever services are contracted out to private companies. Typically, government agencies chose the lowest tender and it is workers who pay the price for that, through low pay.”

Dayna says NZTA has been asked to increase the funding for VTNZ so it can lift pay rates to a more realistic level.

“These are government workers, doing the government’s job of keeping people safe on the roads. They should be fairly paid and that means paying contractors enough to ensure that happens,” she says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Dayna Townsend E tū Lead Organiser ph. 027 590 0070

VTNZ workers to strike over low pay

VTNZ driving test and vehicle testing officials will take strike action for 24 hours on Monday 5 August, in protest over their poor pay.

The strike takes effect just after midnight (12.01am) tonight nationwide.  

E tū advocate, Sunny Sehgal says E tū’s VTNZ driver testing members are qualified professionals who do a dangerous job, but that’s not reflected in their wages.

“The pay is between $21.00 and $22.50 an hour, which may look good to some people, but it’s a skilful job. And it’s hazardous. They are in a car with people who may not be competent to drive,” he says.

Since 2014, VTNZ has been run by German company Dekra, which members say has consistently resisted improving their pay scales.   

E tū member, Harun Ali says he’s a trained and qualified professional who has to manage multiple risks on the job “but the pay doesn’t recognise that.

 “I have a passion for this job. It’s something I love to do, but it’s risky,” says Harun, who has 14 years of experience as a driver testing official.  

“Drivers are often poorly prepared. There are a lot of accidents and a lot of us are being hurt. We face people who come out of jail, who are very threatening.

“We’ve been chased around the cars, bullied and threatened. A lot of times we end up calling the cops.”

Sunny says VTNZ mechanics are also qualified tradesmen whose pay rates are well below the industry standard.

Mediation has failed to resolve the dispute, leaving members little choice but to walk off the job, he said.

“Members are only asking for a fair increase to their wages to properly value their work and to cover the growing costs of housing, fuel and food.”

ENDS

The members will be picketing on Monday morning.

Where: Sylvia Park VTNZ site, 5 Sylvia Park Road, Mount Wellington, Auckland

When: from 8am-midday.

For further information, contact:

Sunny Sehgal E tū organiser ph. 027 590 0075

We can provide contact details for Harun for interested media.

Union to consider industry training changes

The following statement by E tū National Secretary, Bill Newson is in response to the industry changes related to polytechnics and on the job training announced today.

“The changes proposed today are significant for working people.

“Industry training is important for working people as life-long employment and income security depends on the ability to continually develop skills at work and have those skills recognised across industry. Training at work while in employment – ‘earning while you learn’ – is important for working people especially those who can’t afford to rack up a big student debt.

“Today’s announcement is complex, the devil is in the detail and we will be reviewing the proposals carefully.  Providing an industry voice through Workforce Development Councils is good, as is the transitionary approach to change.  However, E tū’s concern is that on the job training is not compromised over time to shore up Polytechnic viability.  We will be taking the time to assess the changes carefully.”

An update for our Metals members

Following our last update (which you can check out on our website), your bargaining team met for another day of talks on 19 July.

The result was an agreement has been reached for a settlement, subject to ratification, for the renewal of the Metals and Manufacturing MECA for 2019.

The parties are still in discussion to finalise the wording of the new clauses required to meet the amendments to the Employment Relations Act and some new clauses as a result of members’ claims.

Members can look forward to full details of the proposed settlement, and notification of ratification meetings in the near future.

In the meantime, thank you all for your participation and support during the process.

Regards

Your bargaining team.

An update for our Metals members

Dear members,

Your bargaining team met for talks with Metals employers over the last three days – one day of claims and two days of bargaining.

The big issue for us this year is the rise in the minimum wage and the effect this has had on the relativities of paid rates for those covered by the Metals MECA.

There were valuable discussions around how to resolve this and now both parties have agreed on a common approach.

We have adjourned bargaining for the moment while we await the employers’ response on some issues.

There is another day set aside for bargaining on Friday, 19 July but discussions are continuing via video conference.

Regards,

Your bargaining team.

Access workers begin four-day strike

PSA and E tū members at Access Community Health have voted overwhelmingly in favour of further industrial action after their latest pay talks stalled – more than a month after members first took to the streets for better pay.

The latest round of industrial action begins today across the country, with members on strike for up to four days from today, Friday 21 June until Monday 24 June.

Access Community Health coordinators, administrators, and call centre workers held a week of partial strikes and walkouts in mid-May, with further action in early June after efforts to negotiate a new pay deal failed.

“Our members are beyond frustrated by Access’s ongoing refusal to lift the wages of those who are some of their lowest paid workers,” says Melissa Woolley, PSA assistant national secretary.

“In one month of bargaining, Access have used bullying and intimidation tactics, undermined the bargaining process, and have made offers that would see disproportionate rates of increase between members.”

“Attempts to divide and silence our members have only made them more determined not to back down, as seen by our members continuing to vote overwhelmingly in favour of taking action and by an increase in membership since industrial action began in May.”

“We urge Access to come back to the bargaining table and offer a better deal for these workers,” says E tū Home Support coordinator Kirsty McCully.

“It’s time for Access to recognise these workers as the glue that holds Home Support together in New Zealand. Access’s failure to give their workers a fair increase is disrespectful to both the members, and to Access service users.”

ENDS

Member action:

Access coordination staff in Whangarei will be gathering with supporters in the Whangarei Town Centre to distribute information to the local community at 11am today, Friday 21 June.

For further information, contact:

Kirsty McCully E tū Home Support Coordinator ph: 027 204 6354

For any local Whangarei media interviews and information please contact Moana Witehira E tū organiser ph: 027 204 6367

24-hour strike at IDEA services after mediation fails

A 24-hour strike by E tū care and support workers employed by IDEA Services will go ahead on Sunday after eight day of failed mediation talks.

The workers will walk off the job at 9am on Sunday, returning to work at 9am on Monday.

Three thousand members are affected by the dispute which has been running for eight months and has seen six previous strikes including last Sunday’s 12-hour stoppage.

The members are seeking extra pay for senior support workers, weekend penal rates and the protection of key health and safety rights. They are also resisting IDEA Services demands for more flexibility over their rosters.

“Despite another full day of mediation on Thursday 20th June, IDEA failed to make any offer to settle, so Sunday’s strike is on”, says E tū advocate Alastair Duncan.

Alastair says the strike will affect up to 600 residential homes with many unionised workers “having a well-deserved and rare Sunday off to spend with loved ones,” he says.

There will also be pickets around the country to inform the public about their concerns –

particularly IDEA Service’s insistence on being allowed to roster workers anywhere, anytime.

“Under the guise of so called “flexibility” IDEA wants to undermine the job security of the very staff who support vulnerable New Zealanders,” says Alastair.

Alastair says penal rates for weekend remains a key claim.

“IDEA’s parent company IHC took away weekend rates during the dreadful days after the Employment Contracts Act became law. It is now time to once again respect the fact that weekend work deserves an extra pay margin.”

In an effort to break the deadlock, E tū has also applied for a formal facilitation hearing by the Employment Relations Authority, which is due to be heard on Tuesday.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Alastair Duncan E tū advocate ph. 027 245 6593

Another serious assault at Waikato DHB

A female security guard is off work and recovering after an assault at Waikato Hospital which has left her with a suspected broken nose.

The assault happened on Tuesday, when the guard was called to help with a highly agitated patient who was trying to leave the hospital.  The patient lashed out, giving our member a closed-fist punch to the nose.

It follows the assault on another female guard last month, which has left her with multiple facial fractures and off work for at least three months.

Allied Security is the security contractor for the Waikato District Health Board, and also the Canterbury DHB, where there have been four serious assaults on guards since Christmas.

E tū organiser, Iriaka Rauhihi says the union is appalled by the second serious assault in just over a month at the hospital.

“What are they waiting for – a fatality?

“Assaults are frequent at this DHB and we’re well aware of Allied Security’s record in Christchurch as well. Our members feel unsafe and I’m not the only one worried that someone will die if things don’t improve – our members are saying the same thing,” she says.

E tū Campaign Lead, Mat Danaher says the string of assaults has raised serious alarm bells.

“We are now looking at a record of failure to stem the on-going violence on hospital wards in Waikato and Christchurch,” says Mat.

He says DHBs are due to meet shortly with E tū to review hospital security – a move that’s long over-due.

“Violence on our hospital wards is a serious issue, affecting all staff. The nurses complain wards are unsafe and both they and our security members are frequently in the firing line.

“There are systemic failures including under-staffing, lack of training and poor health and safety processes. We are looking forward to the upcoming security review and welcome the fact that DHBs nationally are taking this issue seriously.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Iriaka Rauhihi E tū Senior Organiser ph. 27 544 8697 – Iriaka can speak for local Waikato members. 

Mat Danaher E tū Campaign Lead ph. 021 336 519 – Mat will be speaking on the situation nationally.