Author: E tū

New Zealand Post update

Lockdown payment

There have been many reports of companies such as Countdown paying a bonus to all essential workers who have continued to work through the lockdown. We have proposed to your employer a similar scheme for all NZ Post union members who work over this time. Watch this space, we’ll update you with progress.

Your safety at work

E tū has been in daily contact with the company about how they are managing health and safety during this lockdown. We have worked with the company to ensure that all essential workers are kept safe and provided with adequate PPE. This is the primary concern raised by most union members.

Below is of what Post promise will be provided at all sites:

ALL SITES (PRINTING, PROCESSING, CONTRACT LOGISTICS AND SERVICE DELIVERY) MUST HAVE:

  • Daily site cleaning provided by external cleaning suppliers at most sites. 

Note: There will be a small number of remote sites where we don’t have external cleaner providers and local leaders will need to implement their own alternative arrangements.  The risk profile at some smaller sites (eg. less number of people on site during the day, coupled with other controls) may also mean full daily cleaning is not necessary.  Each site will be assessed and risk based approach to cleaning protocols applied.

  • All basic sanitary items – soap (liquid or bar), toilet paper, paper towels for hand drying.  This remains the most effective personal hygiene approach.  Site based bottles or dispensers of hand sanitizer (alcohol or non-alcohol) are additional to this or could be a short term substitute.  Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be prioritised for delivery people who cannot easily access other hand washing facilities.
  • Access to toilets.
  • Surface (desks, counters, tables, kitchens, etc) cleaning products for wiping down in between externally provided cleaning.  These could include easily purchased disinfectant spray and wipe type products from local supermarkets.
  • Alcohol-wipes (or substitute) for shared equipment used by the same person during a shift – eg. Scanners, forklifts, Paxsters, etc.  Substitutes could include meths and disposable wipes or other disinfectant spray and disposable wipes.  Give the extremely low risk profile of other items such as barrow, roles cages, etc, the other controls (particularly regular hand washing and not touching your face) will minimise any risk.  Sites will discuss and determine which shared items are to be wiped down.
  • 2 mtr social distancing practices and monitor these are being applied.
  • Leaders making sure that all team members are well – ie. Regularly reminding them not to come to work if they are sick and intervening if anyone comes to work appearing unwell.  Leaders also need to ensure any vulnerable people, or primary carers of vulnerable people who live in the same house, are not coming into work.

ALL SERVICE DELIVERY SITES MUST ALSO HAVE:

  • Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer for delivery people (or substitute).  Short term substitutes could include, non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer, small bottle of liquid soap and bottle of water for rinsing and paper towels for drying, or baby wipes.

They have also stated: If mandatory requirements (or agreed substitutes) are not in place, then people should not be working.

What is printed above is an excerpt from a full paper provided by the company called “COVID-19 – Personal Protective Equipment and Services”. Ask your team leader for a copy.

Leave provisions

E tū has been continually advocating for our members who are unable to attend work for health or childcare reasons. We have asked the company to apply for any subsidies available on your behalf, and we have clearly stated what should be available for members who may not be able to attend work at the present time.

A comprehensive table has been produced by the company showing what is available to all workers. This has been sent to all delegates, and all team leaders should have a copy.

Key situations include:

In isolation due to: Leave type and process
 Being a vulnerable person (as defined by MoH criteria) Working from home if the job allows, or special paid leave (reviewed every 14 days).
Absence of essential worker due to childcare needs   The team leader will work with our member to determine whether there is an alternative carer within the household or if a “trust buddy” can be used. Where there are no other options for childcare, a leader may allow the employee to take special paid leave.  
Absence due to living with a person classed as vulnerable.   NZ Post’s medical advice is if they are taking all appropriate steps to protect employees from COVID-19, then the risk of bringing it home to a vulnerable person is low. However, some employees will live with people who are especially vulnerable, and they will address these examples on a case by case basis; special paid leave may be available.

Again, each site should have a full copy of this paper titled “COVID-19 – Managing Leave”. Ask your team leader for a copy.

Bargaining

E tū, PWUA and NZ Post will be working through the draft terms of settlement and other documents via videoconference on Thursday 2 April.

Following feedback from the E tū national delegate team and discussions between both unions, it has been agreed that ratification will be postponed temporarily. We will evaluate the situation regularly over the coming weeks and decide as soon as possible about how and when to proceed. All agreed increases will still be backdated to 1 April 2020.

Message to Fletchers – don’t cut pay!

E tū members at Fletcher Building Ltd are not satisfied with the company’s announcement that they intend to cut pay by up to 70%, while top executives keep earning megabucks.

Last night, the company sent a letter to all employees outlining their proposal which would see thousands of workers severely out of pocket for many weeks.

E tū negotiation specialist Joe Gallagher says that the unfairness is incredible.

“We expect companies to do the right thing and pay all workers 100% of their average weekly earnings, especially companies like Fletchers who can easily afford it,” Joe says.

“It’s frankly unbelievable that they want workers to take such a gigantic pay cut while the higher-ups, who earn up to half a million dollars a year, will take just a 15% cut in their pay.

“It shows a lack of respect for the workforce that keeps their company moving. It shows that they don’t seem to care about families getting through the crisis.

“This is not a struggling company. They have massive public and private contracts and could absolutely afford to keep everyone employed with the pay rates that union members have fought hard to secure. Instead, they’re passing the cost of COVID-19 directly onto the workers. It’s outrageous.”

Joe says that these issues should be addressed through proper consultation.

“We want proper consultation and engagement, but workers have only been given about 24 hours to consider the proposal.

“The Government subsidy enables Fletchers to pay 100% over the four weeks of lockdown, which allows meaningful time for proper engagement with the workforce.”

Joe says that Fletchers can’t unilaterally impose such changes across their workforce.

“The Employment Relations Act and our collective agreements are still fully in force. COVID-19 has not suspended our rights at work. The virus does not give license for companies to just do as they please.

“We’re very open to engaging properly through this process, but with the company already leaving workers out of crucial decision-making, we need to be clear: our bottom line is that workers are paid properly and given the job and wage security that they deserve and have fought for.”

ENDS

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

Workers celebrate minimum wage increase

About a quarter of a million Kiwi workers will get a much-needed pay rise today, as the Government’s scheduled minimum wage increase comes into effect.

The minimum wage has gone up from $17.70 to $18.90 an hour, giving our lowest paid and often most vulnerable workers a little extra in their pocket through the COVID-19 crisis.

E tū member and cleaner at Otahuhu Police Station, Rose Kavapalu, is pleased with the Government’s decision to make the increase as planned.

“Thank you, Jacinda, and all of the Government for this increase that’s needed now more than ever,” Rose says.

“I am currently working 13 hours a day, Monday to Friday, to put food on the table for my family and pay the bills.

Rose says that her essential worker status demonstrates the importance of her job.

“Being an essential services worker at the police station, all of a sudden people realise how important your job is.

“I’d rather not be at work as I have many family commitments, but the police officers really need us to keep the place clean and free from COVID-19. So, I am happy to do the work, but honestly, I deserve more than the bare minimum.”

E tū member and security guard at an Auckland train station, Lavinia Kafoa, agrees with Rose that more is needed.

“We need more money because of the risky work that we do. We also need proper PPE, but we’re still waiting for that. The minimum wage increase is better than nothing, but we should be doing more for our frontline health and service workers,” Lavinia says.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says that the minimum wage increase is more important now than ever.

“Low paid and vulnerable workers always bear the brunt of economic downturns like the one we are facing now,” Annie says.

“While it’s not much, the minimum wage increase will make a huge difference for hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs and livelihoods are rapidly changing.”

ENDS

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

PPE victory for frontline health workers

Frontline health workers in aged care, home care, and community support are relieved by the Ministry of Health announcement that proper PPE will now be made available to them through DHBs.

E tū member Pam King, a support worker in Invercargill, congratulated the Ministry for listening to support workers.

“We are pleased with this decision by the Ministry of Health. It’s great that support workers and our clients will be better protected, and that we won’t unduly risk the spread of COVID-19 amongst our most at-risk populations,” Pam says.

“I regularly see 20 or more clients a day and, like me, they want to know we are protected as much as possible from spreading this awful virus.”

E tū Director Kirsty McCully says that while this is a good first step towards ensuring all care workers are protected, more needs to be done.

“There is still work to do on rostering arrangements and screening processes to further minimise risk, and we look forward to the Ministry, DHBs, and providers working across the sector to ensure the right decisions are made and implemented at pace,” Kirsty says.

“We also want to see clear guidance on the issue of pay for the immune compromised, over 70s, and those with caring responsibilities in essential services to ensure they don’t lose out for doing the right thing by everyone and staying home.”

Kirsty says these issues are being faced by workforces around the world.

“The provision of PPE for frontline care workers is a global issue. Care workers worldwide have been calling for protection for themselves and others using the hashtag #GetMePPE.

“E tū joins forces with care workers everywhere in calling for respect, protection, and support for our frontline carers who are out there working tirelessly at the moment to ensure our communities say safe.”

ENDS

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

E tū tells Air NZ to ‘take a breather’ and delay redundancies

E tū is not convinced that Air New Zealand need to lay off as many people as quickly as they have proposed.

Last night, Air New Zealand told staff, including over 5,000 E tū members, that up to 3,500 people would lose their jobs in the next couple of months.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says that the company is moving faster than it needs to.

“It’s time to take a breather and keep people employed until we actually know what’s going to happen in the aviation industry domestically and globally,” Rachel says.

“Regardless of the problems, Air New Zealand needs to remain a company where there are decent jobs and where workers are respected and valued.  Every Air New Zealand employee understands the massive challenge facing the airline, but the airline cannot recover if workers do not have a say.

“Forging ahead with extreme cuts will hurt too many people. It will undermine Air New Zealand and damage the economic recovery. It will damage the company’s culture and slash at the company’s brand promise. If they rush into this, Air New Zealand will forever be known as the company that kicked their workers while they were down.”

Rachel says that the company has alternatives to consider.

“We understand the scale of the problem, but the company have options. They have $1 billion in the bank. They have access to $70 million worth of wage subsidy and a $900 million dollar taxpayer loan to fall back on. To formally initiate redundancy talks while so many workers are on lockdown at home would be a mistake. It’s just wrong.

“The mid- and long-term future of flying in the Asia-Pacific region is open to speculation. No one can really say what will happen. Domestic and regional flying will start to recover in the next few months as New Zealand emerges from Alert Level 4 and can travel again.

“The Prime Minister has said we need to ‘go hard and go early’ to stop the spread of COVID-19, but Air New Zealand are wrong to take the same approach to firing thousands of their workers.”

ENDS

For more info and comment:
Rachel Mackintosh, 027 543 7943

Minimum wage increases vital for over 250,000 workers

Tomorrow’s scheduled minimum wage increase is vital for the hundreds of thousands of minimum wage earners who are doing it tough through the COVID-19 global pandemic.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says that while life is difficult for minimum wage workers at the best of times, the current economic conditions make things a lot worse.

“Far too often, the poorest and most vulnerable in our society bear the brunt of economic downturns,” Annie says.

“We know that low wage workers spend the largest chunk of their wages in the local economy. Keeping money in the pockets of our lowest paid will be vital for stimulating the economy as we go forward.”

Annie says that the minimum wage will help many of the people in essential industries and services.

“Many minimum wage workers are also on the COVID-19 frontlines, including in security and cleaning. These workers get up every day to make sure our communities are safe and healthy. Yet they are paid as low as they legally can be – it’s an injustice.

“A minimum wage increase tomorrow means it will be easier for these workers to keep food on the table and keep the heaters on through the pandemic. Surely there’s not much more important than protecting our frontline workers.”

Annie dismisses the claims from some groups that the minimum wage increase should be delayed.

“These are the same groups that argue against minimum wage increase in any weather. Their fears are always unfounded – their predicted economic outcomes never come to pass.

“New Zealanders will get through the COVID-19 crisis by sticking together and looking out for each other. Scheduled minimum wage increases are one part of that picture. While the minimum wage will still be short of the Living Wage, the increase is a hell of a lot better than nothing.”

ENDS

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

Home support workers awaiting COVID-19 test results

Two groups home support workers may have been exposed to COVID-19 and are in self-isolation, as the family member of a client, who lives with the client, awaits test results.

E tū understands that up to seven home support workers may have been exposed.

One home support worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, is very worried about how many clients may have also been infected.

“I’ve been into the client’s home several times during the global pandemic. The job requires two support workers because we have to lift the client, so there are a few of us who might be affected,” they say.

“One support worker has also started a job at a local rest home recently, on top of her home support work, so we’re really worried about those residents as well.”

Test results are expected tomorrow.

E tū Director Kirsty McCully says this demonstrates the massive need for proper PPE in home support.

“It’s just ridiculous that so many frontline health workers that care for vulnerable, elderly people, are not being given the right equipment,” Kirsty says.

“All it takes is for one person to get COVID-19 and spread it to other clients, or even around a rest home, for the virus to spin out of control.

“Home support workers have a simple message – get us PPE and manage the risks properly to minimise the spread of COVID-19.”

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Kirsty McCully 027 204 6354

Hospitals: Another pay rise won through E tū union power!

In this time of need, amazing E tū members at public hospitals are stepping up to keep us all alive and well. We are pleased to remind you that the next increase in your pay scales applies from today. The pay increase was won by members like you organising our workplaces to get what we deserve.

To stay connected with regular COVID-19 updates during this time join our E tū Hospitals and Laundry Workers Facebook Group Click here https://www.facebook.com/groups/etuhospitals/

Your March 30 increase is between $1.10 and $1.38 per hour.

Orderlies/attendants/cleaners/kitchenhands/laundry

  25 March 2019 30 March 2020 29 March 2021
Commencement $18.60 $19.70 $20.90
12 months $20.40 $21.63 $22.98
Level 2 Qualification $21.61 $22.92 $24.34
Level 3 Qualification $22.70 $24.08 $25.58

Designated security officers/security orderlies

  25 March 2019 30 March 2020 29 March 2021
Commencement $19.10 $20.20 $21.40
12 months $20.90 $22.13 $23.48
Level 2 Qualification $22.11 $23.49 $24.84
Level 3 Qualification $23.20 $24.58 $26.08

Catering assistants/food service assistants (ward-based)

  25 March 2019 30 March 2020 29 March 2021
Commencement $19.10 $20.20 $21.40
12 months $20.90 $22.13 $23.48
Level 2 Qualification $22.11 $23.49 $24.84
Level 3 Qualification $23.20 $24.58 $26.08

Cooks/menu processors/collators

  25 March 2019 30 March 2020 29 March 2021
Commencement $20.60 $21.70 $22.90
12 months $22.40 $23.63 $24.98
Level 2 Qualification $23.61 $24.92 $26.34
Level 3 Qualification $24.70 $26.08 $27.58

Supervisors/team leaders

  25 March 2019 30 March 2020 29 March 2021
Commencement   $23.10 $24.20 $25.40
Level 2 Qualification   $24.90 $26.13 $27.48
Level 3 qualification   $26.19 $27.42 $28.84
Level 4 Qualification $27.20 $28.58 $30.08

Answers needed for PPE concerns in home support

Increasingly concerned home support workers are worried that without adequate personal protective equipment and mandatory protocols for risk assessments, they may end up spreading COVID-19 around the homes and communities they work in.

The news that 21 hospital workers are now self-isolating as a result of exposure to NZ’s first person to have died from COVID-19 has raised additional concerns for the support workforce who say processes and protocols in their sector are not robust enough to cope with the complexities and challenges of self-isolation requirements.

Jan, a support worker from the South Island who doesn’t want her last name published, is worried about safety.

“I sometimes visit 20 or more homes in a day, I visit our over 65s and people with disabilities or other long-term conditions, and I am concerned for the safety and wellbeing of my clients, and myself,” Jan says.

“We cannot stay six feet away from those we support when we provide personal cares such as showering, we’re usually in close contact. I think there’s a misunderstanding about what we do – we want to continue to support our clients, but we don’t want to be responsible for community spread here in NZ.”

“I know support workers around the country talking about quitting the sector for good if these concerns remain, and I know many are talking about refusing to work in situations which they consider to be unsafe.”

E tū Director Kirsty McCully says that Jan’s concerns are being echoed across the board.

“Care workers worldwide share these concerns and, alongside other frontline health workforces, are calling for PPE to be made available to them,” she says.

“We’ve heard that there isn’t a supply issue here in New Zealand, but support workers currently struggle to access it, and the current advice to support workers is that they do not need it unless they are dealing with someone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

“Providers with PPE including masks must urgently pass them on to the support workers they employ. If they don’t have any, DHBs must act to distribute the PPE support workers need at this time.

“Unless something is done fast, this could become a public health disaster – clients are beginning to cancel their care, and ultimately if they become unwell they will end up in hospital at a time when our health system must be prioritised for those requiring COVID-19 and other urgent treatment.”

E tū has met repeatedly with Ministry of Health and DHB representatives to raise the concerns of support workers and is calling for urgent action on the matter.

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Kirsty McCully 027 204 6354