Author: E tū

COVID-19: Aviation workers under unprecedented pressure

E tū is preparing for a scale of disruption to the aviation industry unlike anything we’ve witnessed before, after the Prime Minister’s announcement this afternoon that all people arriving in New Zealand will have to self-quarantine for 14 days, ensuring a massive hit to the aviation industry.

“Today’s unprecedented announcement will test aviation workers like never before as the whole industry scales back its operations in response,” says Savage, E tū’s Head of Aviation.

“As New Zealand’s largest aviation union, we have close to 8000 members all over New Zealand. We have implemented a comprehensive plan to ensure union members and their workplace leaders are supported and can get the information they need. We have already been involved in talks and negotiations with multiple employers. That work will escalate in the weeks ahead as employers begin consulting employees about what the shutdowns mean in their sector.

“It is not just international flying. The flow on effects into domestic and regional networks will be huge. Thousands of workers and their families will be affected as cabin crew, caterers, aviation security, customs, airport workers, engineers, ground handlers, refuellers, and cargo workers see a massive drop off in work. Workers risk redundancies if these hard measures carry on too long.

“The Government’s commitment to supporting the Aviation industry will be vital. Aviation is a life blood industry. It must be supported and ready to rebound soon as the restrictions finish. Aviation workers are skilled workers with high security clearance – the industry cannot afford to lose their skills and workers must remain ready to take off again as soon as possible.  

“Flying itself is still safe. New Zealanders should take advantage of the low fares on offer and explore New Zealand.”

Savage says that it’s not just aviation members who will be affected by today’s decision.

“As the largest private sector union in New Zealand, with over 53,000 members, we represent people across many industries that will be affected by this decision, particularly in hospitality and tourism. That’s on top of the thousands of members in healthcare, such as workers in aged care and hospitals, who are already grappling with this.

“Unions are all about maximising mutual cooperation and collective support – values important to all Kiwis. Now more than ever it is time for New Zealanders to rally around and look after each other. Especially those who are most vulnerable.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Savage, Head of Aviation, 027 590 0074

NZ Post bargaining update – 12 March 2020

E tū, PWUA and NZ Post met for three days of bargaining over 10,11 and 12 March.

There were over 90 claims combined between the three parties and over 50 people in the room so it is a large and complex bargaining process.

Amongst many important claims, the major claims for E tū were around wages, location of work and movement between sites, and a fair deal for PPM posties if PPM is taken away. These claims remain unresolved and we are not satisfied with the company’s position nor offers on these matters.

There was some provisional agreement on smaller claims of ours including parity for goldplated Courier Post members, a review of bereavement leave wording, a review of annual leave policies and when it can be taken, paid breaks for SDCs. There were also some positive discussions around forklift rates but they are not yet resolved.

Post has the largest number of claims. Some of these were considered clawbacks the by the unions, and we resisted them strongly. We agreed to some claims of the company’s that were simple wording fixes or the removal of unnecessary clauses.

E tū and PWUA worked strongly together to advance the interests of all union members regardless of which union they belong to.

We are meeting again on 18 and 19 March.

PLEASE NOTE: WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE COMPANY IS CURRENTLY SENDING OUT UPDATE TO ALL MANAGERS AND TEAM LEADERS. THIS UPDATE IS THE COMPANY’S UPDATE ONLY AND DOES NOT REFLECT E TŪ’S POSITION ON ALL MATTERS.

Latest COVID-19 update to all aviation workers

Dear E tū Aviation members,

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is reassuring people it is safe to fly and is encouraging people to carry on doing so. 

E tū has now escalated our response beyond the initial focus on health and safety to address the wider economic impacts of a prolonged disruption to aviation schedules and aviation work.

If you or your workplace leaders not getting accurate answers from your employer about your safety and health concerns or about the business effects in your workplace please let the union organisers know and they can assist you to set up meetings with your managers and help obtain the information you require.

Financial Effects
While the financial disruptions are already being felt (particularly by part-time workers) this disruption will be temporary and it will eventually end. Unfortunately at present no one knows how long the disruptions will last and what the wider economic effects might be.

Some employers are already encouraging staff to take leave and offering unpaid leave options as a preliminary way to deal with the lack of available work. It is expected some employers will seek temporary dispensation to alter work hours or pay rates but a temporary decrease in profitability does not automatically mean workers should give up terms and conditions.  If, however, jobs are at genuine risk or an employer cannot sustain the business through this period then the union will be open to discuss the matter with employers and assess any temporary solutions proposed. 

Rest assured any request to negotiate temporary changes to employment agreements will be assessed on a case by case basis after taking guidance from the affected members. E tū members want to raise standards in aviation not decrease them. We will not tolerate employers who try to take advantage of the outbreak to undermine working conditions.

Safe Travel
As someone in the industry you can reassure friends and family that flying and air travel is not the problem. The closure of air travel routes is about containment and border safety. It is stopping the spread of infected people to other countries. It is not because flying itself is a risk.

People are not becoming infected because they flew on a plane. They are becoming infected through close contact with a person displaying symptoms. Close contact with an infected and symptomatic person may make a person sick but being on board an aircraft or walking through an airport is not enough. Casual contact with people in public places is not the main source of risk.

At the recent IATA conference in Singapore, Dr David Powell, IATA’s Medical Advisor stated:

“To date, there’s no real evidence of transmission from one passenger to another passenger, despite the fact we know there are instances where people have flown and traveled even when already sick with a fever.

“Most of this outbreak has been driven by close contact with people that are significantly sick and by close contact, in the most cases there actually has been household contact or healthcare worker contact.

“So whilst all of us have seen media reports at the exceptions to that rule, amongst those 90,000 people [infected worldwide], really most of them have been truly close, in other words up close and personal with people unwell at the time”.

Key Points
The following are some key things to keep in mind as the situation develops: 

  • Do not believe everything you read in the media or hear from a friend /co-worker about the virus or the economic effects. Instead take necessary and sensible safety precautions as advised by medical authorities.
  • Seek out reliable evidence-based sources of information.
  • Make use the Ministry of Health website on COVID-19
  • NOTE: We have contacted the Ministry of Health to press for better and more up to date aviation specific information. Their current advice for ‘airline workers’ (dated 5 Feb) is out of date and was written specifically about flights from mainland China at that time. 
  • Remain aware of the difference between the risks involved in ‘close contact’ and ‘casual contact’ and between an ‘infected person displaying symptoms’ and an ‘infected person who is asymptomatic’. Medical advice is that unless you are in close contact with someone who is displaying symptoms you are unlikely to be at risk. Practice good hand hygiene and encourage those around you to do the same. 
  • Employers should be acting under Ministry Health advice. This includes decisions on when a worker who has been in casual contact at work with an infected person may have to self-isolate. If you believe your employer is not following MOH advice you have every right to question their processes and escalate the matter if needed within the company or organisation. If you need help doing this reach out to your union workplace leaders or the union office for assistance. 
  • If your gym, or your child’s school or anyone in public attempts to treat you differently because you work in aviation or at the airport reassure them firmly that working in Aviation is not a risk factor. Point out that treating someone differently because of their perceived health status is not appropriate or rational or helpful. Especially in a country with such low rates of infection. If you need assistance to overcome unfair treatment please contact the union for guidance.  

Thanks for taking the time to read this and the information provided.

Union organisers are on hand to advise your delegates, health and safety reps and fellow union members on the ongoing aspects of this virus outbreak. 

We will issue COVID-19 updates on a regular basis until further notice. Being in union is about looking out for one another and now is a great time to do just that. 

Savage                                          
E tū Aviation
Head of Aviation  

COVID-19 (coronavirus) info for E tū members

In brief:

  • You should not be going to work if you get sick.
  • Your employer can’t make you take unpaid leave for directed leave (such as preventative self-isolation after potential exposure to the virus).
  • E tū will advocate with your employer to make sure you are not unnecessarily out of pocket.

All workers who have potential coronavirus symptoms or who may have been in contact with anyone who may have coronavirus are being asked by the Government to register with Healthline and undertake self-isolation for 14 days as a precaution to help stop the spread of the virus.

Self-isolation means staying away from others, which obviously prohibits attending the workplace in most cases.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, all employers have a duty to eliminate or minimise risks and hazards to their workers and any others who may come to the workplace. This means they should not require an employee to come to work if they are required to be in self-isolation.
 
Where staff are in isolation, we argue that the appropriate course of action for employers is to continue to pay them as normal.

It would not be appropriate for an employer to require an employee to take annual leave or unpaid leave where they are in isolation for legitimate health and safety reasons.

In our view, requiring employees to use sick leave entitlement would be unfair as ‘self-isolation for 14 days’ consumes most sick leave entitlement for a whole year.

It may be possible for an employee to work from home and this should be explored.

Employers are obliged to operate in good faith in their employment relationships.  Isolation due to coronavirus is an extenuating individual circumstance and we ask employers to recognise that by allowing the 14 days isolation period on normal pay. 

Further, if an employer directs and employee to not attend work when they are fit and able for work then the employer must pay them for that time away from work.

Bill Newson
National Secretary

Events: The Future of Journalism and Media

Our events with Jacqueline Park are happening next week in Auckland and Wellington.

Jacqui is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Media Transition, University of Technology, Sydney, and will speak on her report on media innovation in New Zealand and Australia. Both events will also explore the role of public media.

Jacqui’s presentation will be followed by a panel discussion at both events, featuring top media players for what we hope will be a lively exploration of issues and challenges confronting the Fourth Estate, as well as the latest media innovations in Australasia. Audience participation is welcome!

Details are below:

In Auckland:
When: Thursday, 5 March, 5pm for a 5.30pm start – 7pm.Venue: Foyer, NZME, 2 Graham Street (off Victoria Street) Auckland

The panel will be chaired by Brent Edwards, the Political Editor of NBR and will include Spinoff founder, Duncan Grieve, Rick Neville, the Editorial Director of the Newspaper Publishers Association, Miryana Alexander, Head of Premium NZME, and Chris Warren, former Federal Secretary of the Media Entertainment Alliance of Australia.

In Wellington:
Venue: Beehive Theatrette
When: Friday, 6 March 3pm-5pm

The event will be hosted by Broadcasting Minister, Kris Faafoi. The panel includes Chair Chris Warrant as well as Bernard Hickey from Newsroom and Kim Griggs from RNZ. 

If you can make either of these exciting events, we’d love to see you there!

NB: if you plan to attend the Wellington event you will need to provide you name to parliament at least two days beforehand for security purposes. You can do this by emailing Brent Edwards with your details: [email protected]

Names in by Tuesday 3 March please.

NZ Post: claims and bargaining info

The E tū NZ Post collective agreement is up for renewal at the end of February and all E tū members at NZ Post are encouraged to have their say by participating in the claims process. To enable the best level of participation we are holding meetings in person, contacting members via telephone, calling for claims through delegates, and providing information online. The process will vary from site to site, but anyone with questions is encouraged to ring E tū Support on 0800 1 UNION (0800 186 466) to speak to an organiser.

A list of key claims has been drafted by the E tū national delegate team and we are seeking their endorsement. Additional claims can be raised and these will be assessed by the national delegate team before bargaining.

Bargaining is scheduled for the following dates:

  • 27 February
  • 28 February
  • 10 March
  • 11 March
  • 12 March
  • 18 March
  • 19 March

Important documents

Key claims list

These are the key claims, as well as the ratification rate (50% of all members + 1) and the names of the full E tū bargaining team.

E tū NZ Post Collective Agreement

E tū decent work survey

Achieving ‘decent work’ for our members is one of the core aspirations of the union. This concept is also an aspiration of other groups such as the United Nations, the Human Rights Commission and the CTU, and includes good wages, safe workplaces, secure jobs, sustainability and more. We want to know what decent work means for our members at NZ Post and so we are requesting that all members fill out our online decent work survey.


Rest in peace, Mike Moore

E tū acknowledges the passing of Former Prime Minister Mike Moore.

E tū National Secretary Bill Newson says that Mike’s contribution to New Zealand politics can be remembered for him taking the lead while facing adversity.

“He stepped up for the New Zealand Labour Party when times were really tough,” Bill says.

“Mike’s period of leadership was an important part of the party’s ability to begin to rebuild during some turbulent times in New Zealand’s recent political history.”

“Mike was also a life member of the Printers’ Union, one of E tū’s legacy unions. He was an active trade unionist from a young age and understood the importance of workers being represented in politics.”

“E tū would like to pass on sincere condolences to Mike’s family and loved ones.”

Another much-needed minimum wage increase

The Government are continuing their commitment to raise wages for Kiwis with the announcement that the statutory minimum wage will go up to $18.90 in April 2020.

The increase of $1.20 is equal to this year’s increase, which was the biggest increase in the adult minimum wage in dollar terms in New Zealand’s history.

Auckland security guard Lavinia Kafoa is thrilled with the news.

“It really sounds great to me. As a single mother, every bit of extra income makes a lot of difference,” Lavinia says.

“For my family, being on minimum wage means I spend many more hours at work than with my boys at home. I explain to them that mum has to work more hours to earn more money so we can afford everything we need.

“It’s a struggle to keep up the all the rising costs, especially rent.

“It can be especially hard during the school holidays. My boys are at home, so I have to get everything ready for them before I go to work. I wish I could spend more time with them.”

Lavinia says that the struggle is felt by her colleagues as well.

“Lots of us at work are single parents so we’re on the same page. We don’t like working for only the minimum wage, but we have no choice. We need to get out there and earn what we can.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says that while minimum wage increases are very important, they are only one part of the picture.

“We’re very pleased that the Government has kept to their commitment of significant increases to the minimum wage,” Annie says.

“However, we’re still waiting for the Government to deliver on some of their other promises. In the 2017 election campaign, all three coalition partners committed to paying the Living Wage to all core government workers, including those employed by contractors.

“Time’s running out to deliver the Living Wage for the people who need it most.”

Annie says that it’s not just all about wage increases.

“If the Government is to oversee fundamental changes to the New Zealand workforce, they need to implement strong Fair Pay Agreement legislation as soon as possible.

“Many thousands of workers on low wages are exploited by the contracting model, which sees businesses in a ‘race to the bottom’ – paying low wages to stay competitive.

“Fair Pay Agreements would put a stop to that by setting minimum standards bargained by unions and employers. Security guards like Lavinia, as well as cleaners, retail workers, and many others would have their lives transformed by decent Fair Pay Agreement legislation.

“We whole-heartedly commend the Government for lifting wages – now let’s see the transformational changes that we need to fix inequality in New Zealand.

ENDS

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

Lavinia Kafoa may be available for limited interviews this afternoon. To arrange:
Sam Gribben, 027 204 6329

We’ve won the Living Wage at schools!

Pressure from E tū members wins living wage commitment for directly employed school cleaners, caretakers, canteen workers, and ground staff

As you may have heard over the weekend, the Labour Party has confirmed their intention to lift wages for E tū members directly employed in schools to the Living Wage. This announcement came on the back of pressure from E tū not to leave the lowest paid in schools out of their commitment to the Living Wage at schools. 

Your E tū bargaining team is in negotiations with MOE officials on December 11 and will be discussing how and when the Living Wage will be delivered, as well as margins recognising skills, qualifications, services, and duties undertaken by caretakers and ground staff. 

Another priority in this process will be protections against contracting out of this commitment and potential cuts in hours with added pressure on schools operations budget funding which currently also covers your wages. 

We are seeking reasonable compensation for availability for caretakers who have been carrying phones and/or attending call-outs. This is a requirement of a legislative change from 2016 so we will be seeking back pay for members. 

We will update you following this meeting, but in the meantime, keep the pressure on making this change happen quickly by asking your fellow cleaners, canteen workers, caretakers, and ground staff, to join with you in E tū! They can join online at etu.nz/join