Author: E tū

E tū: NZ First photographs deeply worrying

14 February 2020

MEDIA RELEASE

E tū: NZ First photographs deeply worrying

The journalists’ union, E tū is seeking an assurance from New Zealand First on behalf of its journalist members, that it is not involved in tracking journalists as they go about their work.

Reports that coalition member New Zealand First took photographs of Stuff journalist Matt Shand and RNZ journalist Guyon Espiner meeting former New Zealand First president Lester Gray in Tauranga are deeply worrying.

Paul Tolich, E tū Senior National Industrial Officer says the union is not reassured by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ initial response that “we took the photographs just to prove that’s the behaviour going on”, nor his subsequent claim that one of the party’s supporters took the photograph.

“Mr Peters and his party might be unhappy with the reporting of the party’s fundraising, but journalism’s role is to hold those in power to account without fear or favour,” says Paul.

“The work of Mr Shand and Mr Espiner is a good example of that.

“The sort of tactics undertaken by New Zealand First in photographing the journalists and then having the photograph posted on a right-wing political blog is chillingly similar to other examples of attacks on journalists as they go about their work in countries where the freedom of journalists is suppressed.

“Mr Peters needs to apologise to the journalists and give a categorical assurance nothing like this will happen again.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Paul Tolich E tū Senior Industrial Officer ph. 027 593 5595

Imperial Tobacco closure blow to workers, community

E tū says today’s confirmation that the Imperial Tobacco plant in Petone will close is a blow to the members as well as the wider Lower Hutt community.

E tū organiser Damon Rongotaua says the closure, which means the loss of 122 jobs, is the result of several factors which have sounded the death knell for the 100-year old plant.

“It’s a combination of factors and unfortunately they feed off each other,” Damon says.

“As a result of health policies designed to reduce smoking including higher excise, there are declining sales and over-capacity both here and in Australia, where some of the product is sold. The plant also needs up to $4 million to bring it up to code. They’ve got two practically new plants overseas and that’s where this work will be going.

“So, there’s no coming back from it unfortunately. It’s the downside of globalisation,” he says.

Damon says E tū members have a collective agreement with one of the best redundancy clauses in the country and many will get big pay outs, especially those with decades of service.

But he says other workers with little service behind them have been hit hard. 

“We’ve got a couple pushing 50 years’ service; many have 35 to 45 years’ service, and about 35% have about 25 years’ service plus. About 40% have done 10-25 years, and then there are the newer workers.

“They’re really upset about it, because they’ve just got a really well-paid job and now it’s over.”

Damon says the plant pumped millions of dollars into the Hutt Valley, to the benefit of the workers but also local businesses.

“The ones that have been there a while, they’ve been expecting it. But it’s still a sad day for them. Actually, it’s a sad day for the whole Hutt Valley. It’s going to leave a massive hole in the community and the economy.

“I know it’s not the retail product of choice but for all the bad press around it, it’s helped a lot of people to buy homes and kept communities running.”

Damon says the factory will go through a staged shut-down with the decommissioning of the plant due to be completed by the end of the year.

He says over that time the union will be working to ensure company commitments to provide re-employment assistance are met and that redundancy payments are correct.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Damon Rongotaua E tū organiser ph. 027 591 0010

E tū: safety of Air NZ Wuhan crew paramount

The union for aviation, E tū, says it’s working to secure assurances about the safety of up to 10 volunteer cabin crew and any ground crew operating the Air New Zealand evacuation flight from Wuhan.

The Chinese city is at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 170 lives, with the World Health Organisation declaring a global health emergency as confirmed cases surge past 8000.

E tū Head of Aviation, Savage, says so far around 40 crew members have volunteered for the flight that will collect New Zealanders in Wuhan and return them home.

He understands the flight will head to Wuhan on Sunday or Monday. A 777-200 aircraft will be used and the operating crew will fly to Hong Kong the day before so they can rest before the long flight to Wuhan and on to Auckland. 

It is possible an aircraft engineer and aircraft loaders may also travel to Wuhan to ensure a successful turn-around.

Savage says a priority for the crew is ensuring everything is done to keep them safe.

“There’s no shortage of volunteers, but they are asking questions about the safety protocols for the flight and they won’t be flying until they’re satisfied about that,” says Savage.

“Crew need to know that they’re safe, what their risk of infection is as well as the risk of passing something on when they get back. That’s the biggest concern they have, that they could pick it up and not know it and pass it on to colleagues or friends and family.

“We may sign a special agreement for the flight to clarify what to expect and what the conditions are.”

Savage says that includes covering issues such as equipment and protective clothing, quarantine and containment protocols if anyone gets sick, as well as issues related to insurance and members’ sick leave if they do get sick or are quarantined.

Meanwhile, Savage says delegates and health and safety reps continue to be proactive in seeking the latest information from Air New Zealand on the situation, especially as other airlines suspend flights to China.

“As the virus continues to spread, there are anxieties among airport workers. We’re hearing from ground crew members at Menzies Aviation who are wary of touching baggage from China in case it puts them at risk, so there’s misinformation out there about the dangers.

“Good information is the best defence against fear and anxiety. Airlines like Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia have so far been forthcoming with information and we expect that will continue.”

ENDS

For further information, contact: Savage E tū Head of Aviation ph. 027 590 0074

ERA facilitation win for Woburn Masonic members

E tū members at Woburn Masonic aged care home in Lower Hutt have won their application to the Employment Relations Authority for facilitated bargaining of their dispute with owners, Masonic Care Limited.

The union applied to the ERA for facilitation after members were unable to secure a collective agreement following nearly 12 months of talks, mediation and a series of strikes just before Christmas.

The members, who have likened their current rosters to the availability requirements of now illegal zero-hour contracts, want set shifts and hours as well as better sick leave, weekend pay rates, and long service leave.

Delegate Sela Mulitalo says the ERA decision in favour of facilitation is a big win and vindicates last year’s industrial action.

“This is a positive win for us, and we are hoping for a resolution. We didn’t know if we’d win it, because Masonic Care opposed it. And while we took strike action, we needed to have other channels to work through and that’s what we’ve got,” says Sela.

“What we are hoping for is just to be heard – for our truth to be heard, and our struggle, because we can’t live proper lives if we always have to be available to work.

“We just want a proper roster, that’s where we want the talks focussed, and not to be on call 24/7,” she says.

E tū organiser, Robert Ibell says facilitation is a chance for Masonic Care Limited to agree on conditions which respect the members and the work they do.

“We know it’s possible for the employer to run a roster that gives the members set shifts and set hours. Our members have already produced one.

“We are keen to work with the employer to make this a reality and to ensure these are decent jobs – people should know when they work, what shifts they work and what hours they’ll be working.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact;

Robert Ibell E tū organiser ph. 027 436 089

Robert can also provide contact details for Sela Mulitalo.

E tū aviation members monitor coronavirus situation

E tū says it is monitoring the situation with the spread of the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan China, and has so far claimed 80 lives.

E tū cabin crew regularly fly to China and airport workers interact with thousands of travellers every day. E tū’s Head of Aviation, Savage says the union’s delegates and Health and Safety reps are keeping a close watch on developments.

“Every employer has a duty of care to ensure employees are well-informed and that safety procedures and equipment are fit for purpose at the increased risk levels being experienced,” says Savage.

“At the moment the situation does not appear to be worse than the SARS virus, and it’s important for people not to panic.

“However, it is serious, and union members in the air and on the ground are questioning their employers to make sure they have up to date public health advice and are not unduly exposed to any more risk than they ordinarily are,” he says.

“It is important that workers talk to their employer whenever they see any risk to health and safety. Everyone at work has an obligation to be safe at work. But, in an epidemic situation like this, employers have an extra responsibility to act fast to support the workers most at risk and to ensure they are informed and protected”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Savage Head of Aviation, E tū ph. 027 590 0074

E tū response to Imperial Tobacco closure proposal

E tū has been meeting with our members at Imperial Tobacco in Petone, where workers learned this week about a proposal by global parent company Imperial Brands to close the plant.

E tū represents 82 workers at the plant.

“Imperial Tobacco’s global parent has proposed shutting the factory,” says E tū organiser, Damon Rongotaua.

“We are meeting with our members to guide them through the process and working with the company to ensure our people are well-looked after pending a final decision on 13 February.”

The union won’t be commenting further until 13 February when the final decision is known.

ENDS

Strike 3 tomorrow at Woburn Masonic Village

E tū caregivers strike tomorrow for a third time as they continue their fight to end their precarious hours and the 24/7 availability in case of roster changes which is required by their employer, Masonic Care Limited.

The members, who are seeking set shifts and hours, have likened their current conditions to the availability requirements of now illegal zero-hour contracts. 

The workers will be picketing outside the care home during the strike, which runs from 8.30am until 1pm.

E tū member, Mo Tonga says precarious hours are extremely challenging for caregivers like herself who have children, and she needs guaranteed hours so she can have a decent life.

“It’s difficult, being a young mum, having to try to sort out my child and work at the same time, it’s quite stressful. I could spend the times when I’m off work with my daughter, but I have to put her in day care from Monday to Friday.

“It’s a huge issue for me. I have to be available 24/7. If I don’t have enough hours in a fortnight, I have to pick up other shifts and it’s hard to plan my life around that, just having to leave my daughter to come to work. I’d love to have those set shifts just so I can plan my life properly.”

E tū organiser, Robert Ibell says the rosters undermine the intent of the equal pay settlement, which is being subverted by providers like Masonic Care Limited.

“The rosters at Woburn Masonic Village don’t give our members secure hours and a weekly income they can live on,” says Robert.

“The equal pay settlement was intended to place caregivers on a professional footing with training and pay to match but instead we are seeing hours cut, and workers on these very precarious contracts.

“For our members affected by this erosion of decent work, this is about winning rosters which give them a life and protect the care standards of the residents,” he says.

Meanwhile, the union is awaiting a response from Masonic Care Limited to its application for facilitated bargaining.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Robert Ibell E tū organiser ph. 027 436 0089.

To speak with our delegates, please contact Robert, or Karen Gregory-Hunt, Communications Officer, ph. 022 269 1170.

The members will be picketing from 8.30am outside Woburn Masonic Village, 63 Wai-Iti Crescent, Woburn, Lower Hutt

Facilitation sought as caregivers strike again

E tū has applied to the Employment Relations Authority for facilitation of the dispute over working conditions at Woburn Masonic Village in Lower Hutt.

Workers take strike action tomorrow for a second time over guaranteed hours and a requirement by facility operator Masonic Care Limited for 24/7 availability in case of roster changes.

Our members, who are seeking set shifts and hours, have likened this to the availability requirements of now illegal zero-hour contracts. 

The workers will be picketing outside the village during the strike, which is scheduled to begin at 8.30am through until 1pm.

The application for facilitation notes the difficulty settling a collective agreement and the lengthy bargaining period. Talks were initiated over a year ago.

It details issues relating to security of hours of work and appropriate roster arrangements, as well as weekend allowances and sick leave.

“Our members are only asking for what is fair,” says E tū Director, Sam Jones.

“What they are seeking are considered standard terms and conditions across residential aged care, and they need the ability to plan their lives outside the important work they do.”

Woburn Masonic Village delegate, Sela Mulitalo supports the application for facilitation.

“It’s something we need to do,” says Sela. “Our employer hasn’t responded to our strike and it shows they’re not really keen to do anything to resolve the issues.”

Meanwhile, Sela says the members are looking ahead to tomorrow’s strike.

“They were hyped by the Tuesday strike!” says Sela. “They felt good, they felt empowered by that. They’re looking forward to tomorrow and the support we’ve had has given our members good vibes all round.

“It’s sad we are forced to take this action – our members don’t want to strike. But they have been forced into it because they don’t want to be on-call 24/7 for their part-time guaranteed hours.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Sam Jones E tū Director ph. 027 544 8563. To speak with our delegates, please contact Robert Ibell ph.027 436 0089 or Karen Gregory-Hunt, Communications Officer, ph. 022 269 1170.

The members will be picketing from 8.30am outside Woburn Masonic Village, 63 Wai-Iti Crescent, Woburn, Lower Hutt; also, cnr Woburn and Wai-Iti Crescent

E tū: Claymark members wait for certainty

E tū says uncertainty hangs over the future of forest products firm Claymark Group after it was placed in receivership, though the hope is it will find a buyer.

E tū has 20 members at the Claymark processing site on Geddes Road in Rotorua, one of six sites around the country.

E tū Team Leader, Raymond Wheeler says news of the receivership came as “a bolt from the blue but considering the news, the mood of the members remains positive and hopeful a buyer can be secured.”

He says the union has spoken to the receiver and for now the company continues to trade as normal.

“That is good news given this time of year,” says Raymond.

“There is a sale and purchase agreement with New Zealand Future Forest Products which is open until 31 December, so they are obviously still negotiating. But because Claymark couldn’t meet its debt repayment schedule, the receiver’s been called in and will work with the parties to broker a deal.

“Meanwhile, everything is business as usual. The guys are being paid their wages and leave entitlements over the Christmas break will be paid in the usual way.”

He says there is optimism that if the NZFFP deal falls over, there could be alternative buyers.

“It’s now in the hands of the receivers. We’ll have more certainty about where this goes next once we know what happens on 31 December.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Raymond Wheeler E tū Team Leader ph. 027 597 5404