Author: E tū

Union calls on Air New Zealand to rebuild better

E tū is calling on the country’s national carrier to ensure it rebuilds better than before, after the half-year announcement of a profit loss of $185 million, before other significant items and taxation.

E tū Head of Aviation, Savage, says the announcement comes as no surprise, but the issue now is whether the airline can balance its need to generate profits with its commitment to putting people before profits.

“The pandemic has focused attention on how vital Air New Zealand is to New Zealand’s economy – not just as part of our national infrastructure connecting the regions and to global markets, but also in terms of the standards Air New Zealand has itself set in industrial relations.”

Air New Zealand is a large, high profile employer that had turned a corner in the last five years, and committed to doing far better by its staff, he says.

E tū members represent a third of the workforce at Air New Zealand.

Savage says it is a hard time to be an airline worker.

“The company is rightfully scrutinising every cost increase, but workers still have bills to pay, housing costs continue to rise, and there are still people at Air New Zealand who earn below the Living Wage.

“Rebuilding a better airline that can serve the national needs and becoming a better employer is the challenge now.”

However, the company has made recent strategic statements that indicate its priorities in terms of people coming before profit, and that is the standard the company will be judged by, Savage says.

“Flying more passengers and cargo and vital to rebuilding, but the CEO and his management team will also need to keep supporting and recognising the thousands of workers who have kept the company going through all the tribulations of the last 12 months.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Savage, 027 590 0074

E tū welcomes vaccine arrival

The expected early arrival of Aotearoa New Zealand’s first vaccine shipment is welcome news to E tū, the union representing many border and health workers.

The Government announced this morning that the first batch of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine should be rolled out from next week and will be delivered to border and MIQ workers and their close contacts as a priority.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says it is great news.

“This is a very important milestone for our COVID-19 response and takes us a step closer to getting this virus under control,” Annie says.

“It’s entirely appropriate that people working at the border and in MIQ will be vaccinated first, as they have the most risk of exposure.”

Annie says it is vital that workers are not disadvantaged by the vaccine roll-out.

“This means that workers need to be properly paid throughout the process. If they need time off work for the vaccination, that must be fully paid. If any part of the process prohibits them from working for a period, that time off should also be paid and not require workers to use up their leave.

“These basics will need to be followed for the whole roll-out, not just this first batch. As our healthcare workers and others begin getting vaccinated, all Kiwi workers deserve financial security for doing that which is in all of our best interests.

“E tū members across many industries have kept Aotearoa safe and thriving through the pandemic. Health workers, aviation workers, cleaners, security guards, food workers, and many more have shown exactly how essential they are. 

“The best way to thank these workers for their outstanding service is to make sure they are always properly paid for the work they do and any sacrifices they have to make.”

Annie also stressed the importance of following official advice and relying on the best information from the Ministry of Health.

“E tū members are encouraged to learn about the vaccine and why it’s so important in our fight against the pandemic. Excellent information is available on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine page.

“With proper protections, and good information, Aotearoa can once again show the world how it’s done.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

One step closer to Matariki holiday

Workers across the country are celebrating today as the Labour Government take a further step towards their pre-election commitment to make Matariki a public holiday.

The Government have announced that the first Matariki public holiday will be on 24 June 2022 and the date will change every year, similar to Easter.

E tū Co-President Muriel Tunoho says a mid-winter public holiday is long overdue.

“After Queen’s Birthday, Kiwi workers don’t get a public holiday until Labour Day in October. Matariki will give people a much-needed ray of sunshine in the middle of winter,” Muriel says.

“We are very happy that this will be a new public holiday. Matariki is unique and indigenous to Aotearoa and it is a very positive way our nation can all embrace it together.”

Muriel says that while the Government are making good progress on some workplace relations issues, other urgent issues remain.

“While an extra public holiday is fantastic news, E tū continues to campaign for many other changes that will fundamentally improve workplace relations in Aotearoa, such as the implementation of Fair Pay Agreements, paying the Living Wage to all workers in the public service, and strengthening industrial democracy.”

Union welcomes border workers given priority for COVID-19 vaccine

E tū supports the Government’s commitment ensuring that border workers and their families are prioritised in the roll-out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said workers such as cleaners, nurses who undertake health checks in MIQ, security staff, customs and border officials, airline staff and hotel workers will be among the first to be vaccinated.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was given provisional approval by Medsafe today. The vaccines are expected to arrive in New Zealand by the end of the first quarter.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says the priority status is fantastic news for both border workers and their families.

“Protecting our members at work and keeping them and their families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an ongoing concern for E tū.

“It’s a relief to know that their health and safety is considered a top priority.”

Annie says the union would like to see workers in care professions, such as aged care and home support, also given priority after the roll-out to border workers.

“During the lockdown, we saw that PPE was extremely slow and was not done with these workers in mind. We also need to make sure that workers on the frontlines in healthcare are taken into account, with worker consultation and rights at the forefront of any future processes.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

Lifewise workers continue strike action despite lockout threat

Lifewise homecare support workers are continuing their fight for better working conditions, even as they now face a possible lockout from their employer in response to their strike action and pickets.

From Saturday, members will be going ahead with more strike and picket action, outside the Lifewise offices in Mount Eden.

Lifewise, an Auckland-based organisation which is also part of the Methodist Church, has issued a lockout notice to all E tū Lifewise members.

For more than a year and a half, Lifewise members, who care for vulnerable Kiwis including seniors and those living with disability, have been trying to negotiate their first collective agreement with increased sick and bereavement leave.

Members also need fair guaranteed hours as they struggle to survive financially, with some on as little as nine guaranteed hours of work a fortnight.

E tū delegate Helen Taufa says the move to lockout members is “extreme”, but members will not back down.

“Instead of coming back to the bargaining table to negotiate and talk about things, [Lifewise] has gone to this extreme.

“For them to lockout all members – it’s harsh. We’re disappointed it’s come to that point,” she says.

Another member, who doesn’t wish to be named, says her family struggles to pay the bills even though she and her husband both work, and taking action is the only way to get the attention of Lifewise.

“Striking is the only way to get more money for my family,” she says.

Members of the Methodist church and family members of those receiving care have also strongly criticised the lockout move from Lifewise and are “deeply concerned” about the organisation’s treatment of members during the current dispute.

A church member says: “The Methodist Church has a strong culture of social justice and fairness. I am deeply ashamed of Lifewise’s behaviour.”

An E tū Director Kirsty McCully says in New Zealand, low-paid care workers shouldn’t have to go on strike to win hours they can survive on, or to know when they will be working from week to week.

“The employment model in homecare is broken, and these workers are bearing the brunt of it,” Kirsty says.

“Now, a ruthless employer, usually known for its good work in the community, is pushing its own workforce to the poverty line with a lockout which would see workers without income.

“However, the workers have said they are steadfast and will stick together until they achieve a fair deal at Lifewise.”

Lifewise members will be picketing on Saturday 23 January and Monday 25 January at 227 Mount Eden Road, Mount Eden from 7am-11am, and striking from Saturday to Monday.

ENDS

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

Lifewise strike: complaints about care quality, Methodist Church members concerned

Lifewise homecare workers continue their action to win a fair collective agreement which protects quality care at the Auckland-based homecare provider, taking strike action from 6am-9pm tomorrow (Wednesday) and picketing outside their employer’s premises at 227 Mount Eden Road from 7am until 11:30am.

Family members have started to complain to the Auckland District Health Board in support of the reasonable demands of the workers but are unhappy about the poor coordination of care from Lifewise, and the increased turnover of long serving employees due to their working environment and low hours.

In addition to client complaints, members of the Methodist Church, of which Lifewise is a part, have begun to express their concern that the homecare arm of The Lifewise Trust is failing its employees and clients.

“It’s a shame to me that Lifewise is not responding to the direct concerns of homecare workers about their low hours which keep them in poverty,” says an Auckland lay preacher who prefers to remain anonymous.

“It’s up to those of us in the church who feel strongly about the social justice principles to make the church step up and practice what it preaches,” she says.                                                                                                                                     

“I and a number of my colleagues will be taking this up within all the channels available to us – within our Synods, with our church ministers, and with our church representatives.”

E tū Director Kirsty McCully says that the homecare workers are taking their stand for themselves, but also for future generations of homecare workers.

“They can’t survive on the hours they’re receiving and the model at Lifewise is set up to keep employees in poverty, shouldering all the financial risk for the organisation,” she says.

ENDS

All are invited to the picket tomorrow at 227 Mount Eden Road from 7am until 11:30am. Members of the Methodist Church will be attending the picket.

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

E tū condemns arrests of Hong Kong democracy activists

E tū has joined New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister, global unions and others in condemning the arrest this week of over 50 prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists.

Among those arrested was aviation worker Carol Ng, the chair of the Hong Kong Council of Trade Unions and former general secretary of the British Airways Hong Kong International Cabin Crew Association. Carol was released last night but the arrests are part of an ongoing and escalating intimidation of the democracy movement in Hong Kong.

E tū spokesperson Sam Huggard says the union extends its solidarity to Carol and other trade union and democracy activists.

“An attack on democracy is an attack on ordinary working people and communities and cannot be tolerated. We join with others in condemning this move and call on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to stop this intimidation immediately,” Sam says.

The detentions were made by local police, under the controversial National Security Law, for trying to “overthrow” the government by holding primary elections for pro-democracy candidates in last year’s postponed elections.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Sam Huggard, 021 462 148

Homecare strike: not so ‘Happy New Year’ for Lifewise homecare workers

It’s not a very ‘Happy New Year’ for Lifewise homecare workers, who will go on strike for at least the next three full days unless the Lifewise Trust is prepared to settle a fair collective agreement. 

Homecare workers at Lifewise provide care and support to our elders and people with disabilities for the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB). The care workers have been in negotiations with their employer for more than a year and a half.

The workers want to see commitments to deal with their guaranteed hours of work, the lack of which is keeping some of them on the poverty line. They are also calling for improved leave, which their employer previously agreed to and then reneged on.

“Lifewise does a lot of good work in the community and they say they stand for social justice, but there’s a double standard at Lifewise when their own workforce of homecare workers can’t afford to live decent lives,” says care worker and E tū delegate Helen Taufa.

E tū Director Kirsty McCully says this is an issue of equity for the largely women and Pasifika workforce.

“These women cannot live on their incomes, and the inadequate conditions at Lifewise contribute to the disadvantage that these Pasifika women experience,” Kirsty says.

“It’s one example of a much wider problem. The Human Rights Commission has recently launched an inquiry into the pay gap for Pasifika women and E tū has invited the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo to meet with Lifewise homecare members and hear their experiences.

“It’s a shame to have to call out an organisation which otherwise does good work, but Lifewise, if it truly supports justice for the community, should get its own house in order first and stop contributing to these societal issues of poverty and inequality,” Kirsty says.

“Lifewise is a part of the Methodist church, and as such we feel it should be above disrespecting its homecare workforce in this way.”

Homecare workers will picket at the Lifewise Trust’s CBD offices at 385 Queen Street from 7:15-9:30am on Tuesday 5 January, and their strike action will continue in the following days. They will be joined by members of the Pasifika community, including Cook Island drummers.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Kirsty McCully, 027 204 6354, [email protected]

New collective for aged care workers

E tū members at Radius, BUPA, and Summerset have voted to accept the new collective agreement recently negotiated with their employers.

The new collective agreement is also endorsed by NZNO members.

It delivers:

  • pay rises to household staff,
  • continues the focus on care staff moving up the scales,
  • slowly, but steadily, improves pay and conditions. 

As more New Zealanders come to understand the critical work aged care workers do, E tū will be pushing employers to continue to make improvements around training and safe staffing in the new year.