Author: E tū

COVID-19: 13 August update

Dear E tū members,
 
As we find ourselves facing a new lockdown period, we wish to reassure you that E tū remains fully able and ready to advise and support our members throughout this time.
 
E tū Auckland area members are advised to work from home where possible from 12pm on Wednesday 12 August for a minimum of three days. Essential services and businesses that are able to operate safely will continue as per the Government’s COVID-19 guidelines.

All others on Level 2 must take COVID-19 health protection measures very seriously over that period.
 
Please keep an eye on www.covid19.govt.nz for the latest info.
 
Our staff in Auckland must operate from home, but we are equipped to do that. We are also aware that the Alert Level periods may be extended.
 
We know that many of our members are essential workers or may be working over this period, and we thank you for the wonderful services you  provide to your whanau and communities all the time, including during our last lockdown.

We were here for our members through the last lockdown. We had your back. We remain here for you.
 
In this lockdown period, please remember:

  • You are entitled to your full ordinary pay when required to be at home, unless your employment agreement says otherwise.  Contact your delegate or an organiser at 0800 186 466 if you’re unsure.
  • Members are strongly advised not to agree to be paid less or to use leave entitlements in place of ordinary pay.
  • Employers of members continuing to work must have clear COVID-19 safety protocols in the workplace and provide adequate PPE to protect your health and safety in as far as is practical.
  • Members, who are vulnerable due to health concerns or immune compromised, are advised to take extra precautions if continuing to work. Discuss any concerns with your GP.

If you are in doubt then talk with your delegate, health and safety reps, employer, or contact E tū on 0800 1 UNION or [email protected]. Please understand that given the circumstances, this may mean longer waiting times than usual.

Now is a good time to remember that E tū has core principles for how we handle COVID-19, which are the building blocks of our Rebuild Better campaign:

  • Prioritise community health and wellbeing
  • Workers’ wages leading the recovery
  • Keep and create decent jobs
  • Union members involved in all decisions
  • End inequality

For more details on this, check out: www.rebuildbetter.nz

We’ll keep our website up to date with all the latest info as well: www.etu.nz 
Above all, take care, be kind, and take COVID-19 precautions.

Thank you,
Bill Newson
E tū National Secretary

Changes to New Zealand’s Alert Levels from 12 August

New Zealand’s Alert Levels are changing from 12pm on Wednesday 12 August.

Auckland will move to Alert Level 3, and the rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 2. As per the most recent COVID-19 update from the Government, see below for more.

Auckland

Work

Under Alert Level 3, you are encouraged work from home if you can.

Travel and self-isolation

If you are currently in Auckland and do not live in Auckland, we suggest that you go home. Practise good hygiene and be conscious of your health. We recommend that you keep your bubble small.

Businesses

Businesses are able to open, but should not physically interact with customers.

Essential services including healthcare, justice services and businesses providing necessities are able to open.

Bars and restaurants should close, but takeaways are allowed.

Education

Schools in Auckland can safely open but will have limited capacity. Where possible we encourage students to learn from home.

When you’re out and about

Maintain physical distancing of two metres outside your home, including on public transport.

It is highly recommended that you wear a mask if you are out and about.

Public transport can continue to operate with strict health and safety requirements. You should maintain physical distancing and wearing a mask.

Public venues should close. This includes libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds and markets.

Gatherings

Gatherings of up to 10 people can continue, but only for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga. Physical distancing and public health measures should be maintained.

At-risk people

People at high risk of severe illness such as older people and those with existing medical conditions are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home.

Rest of New Zealand

The rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 2 at 12pm on Wednesday 12 August. Under Alert Level 2, the following restrictions apply.

You can still continue to go to work and school, with physical distancing.

Wear masks if you can in public.

No more than 100 people at gatherings, including weddings, birthdays, funerals and tangihanga.

Businesses can open to the public if they are following public health guidance, which include physical distancing and record keeping.

People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, for example those with underlying medical conditions and old people are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving home.

Practice good hygiene – stay home if sick.

Huge Living Wage victory for MSD guards

Ministry of Social Development (MSD) security guards across the country are thrilled today to learn that they will finally be moving up to at least the Living Wage of $22.10 per hour.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced today that around 400 Tautiaki (security guards) will be paid at least the Living Wage from 1 September.

 It comes after years of campaigning for public service workers who are employed by contractors to be paid at least the Living Wage.

MSD keep Work and Income offices across the country safe and secure. They are often posted outside Work and Income offices for hours at a time in all weather.

Robert Duston says it can be a hard job, but one he enjoys.

“I like being able to help less fortunate people have a good day and feel that they’ve had a good experience. “Yes the Living Wage has taken a long time, but I’m really happy the Government has recognised we’re worth it.”

Robert says: “It’s my 50th birthday next year and earning the Living Wage for me means that I can start saving to go on a holiday and not have to worry about paying bills along the way.”

E tū organiser Yvette Taylor says that the announcement amounts to a promise finally honoured by the Government.

“In 2017, all three government parties committed to paying at least the Living Wage to people employed by contractors in the core public service,” Yvette says.

“The way to deliver that is by making the Living Wage the minimum rate that people must be paid when negotiating with government contractors for services like security.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Yvette Taylor, 027 585 6120

Fight for #safestaffingnow continues around the country

The joint campaign to push the Government to commit to safer staffing levels in aged care continues around the country with two North Island actions.

E tū members and delegates will be holding two photo opportunities in Gisborne on Thursday to raise awareness of how a lack of staff affects carers and residents as part of the union’s national #safestaffingnow campaign.

E tū delegate and aged care worker at Te Wiremu House Josephine Culshaw says not having enough staff makes it “very hard” to provide safe care.

“You’re very quick – just getting what you need to get done and moving onto the next resident.

“On our rest home’s website, it’s all about quality for the resident and giving them the best, but we can’t do that when it’s just me and one other person [on duty].”

Without mandatory staffing levels, it makes it hard to get the company to take workers’ concerns seriously, Josephine says.

“It would be great to say, by law, we need to have so many staff to residents. It gives you something to stand on. As things are now, it’s the company’s call if they want to save some money [by having less staff on].”

Home support workers will also be holding a stop-work meeting at Age Concern Tairawhiti on the same day to discuss the impacts of moving key coordinator roles to Auckland and the gross underfunding, reduction of hours, and understaffing across the sector.

Staffing levels in aged care homes are not mandatory and voluntary guidelines are woefully outdated, with as little as three staff for more than 60 residents.

E tū Director Sam Jones says the situation won’t change until the Government updates the recommended staff-to-resident ratios and makes them mandatory at all rest homes.

“Not only are the current guidelines completely out of date, but they’re also voluntary, which means aged care facilities are not held accountable at all for providing an adequate and safe number of staff to residents.

“As far back as 2010, Labour and the Greens recommended making staffing levels compulsory. But since their election in 2017, so far there’s been no follow-through,” he says.

“In the wake of COVID-19, having a regulated number of staff to care for residents is absolutely essential.”

The #safestaffing photo opportunities will be at Te Wiremu House at 12pm and Age Concern Tairawhiti at 1pm on Thursday 6 August.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Sam Jones, 027 544 8563

Auckland Council’s contracted cleaners to get Living Wage

Living Wage campaigners in Auckland are celebrating the news that Auckland Council has committed to paying a Living Wage to all its contracted cleaners in this council term.

On July 30, Auckland Council passed its Emergency Budget, which included the Living Wage commitment to the council’s contracted cleaners.

Members of the Living Wage Movement Aotearoa New Zealand were present at the Governing Body meeting on Thursday morning.

Former E tū delegate Malia Langi is relieved and happy the Living Wage will now be a reality for her colleagues.

A cleaner for six years, Malia says: “Now there’s no more worries. I’ll feel relieved now it’s been passed – everything that we were working and campaigning for the past eight years,” she says.

“We just thank all our supporters, our communities, our union, and everybody that was on our side.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says it’s a great achievement for the movement to see Auckland Council extending the Living Wage to more workers.

“The wages of the lowest paid directly employed council workers were lifted to a Living Wage in 2019 and we’re absolutely thrilled that this has now been extended to contracted cleaners.

“This is a great step forward in creating a decent, fair system of social procurement. Our aspiration is to see all workers throughout New Zealand on the Living Wage.”

ENDS

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

Living Wage promise: Government running out of time

The Government are running out of time to honour their 2017 promise to pay the Living Wage to core government workers employed by contractors.

All three Government parties made the commitment in the 2017 election campaign to “support and promote changing government procurement policies to ensure that all contracted workers, who are delivering a regular and ongoing service to the core public service, move to the Living Wage within the next term of government”.

Today, on International Day of Justice for Cleaners and Security Guards, E tū members are urging the Government to recognise their value by sticking to that Living Wage commitment.

E tū member and Otahuhu Police Station cleaner, Rose Kavapalu, was recognised by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the COVID-19 lockdown for the hard work that she does.

Now, Rose and her family have had to move in with relatives because they simply cannot afford Auckland rents.

“I am left with no choice but to move in with my family and live with my parents as I couldn’t afford the $400 rent anymore,” Rose says.

“Even though I work two jobs, 65 hours a week on the minimum wage. By the end of the week, my body is sore and so tired I am left with no energy to enjoy life with my family.”

Rose says receiving the Living Wage could change her family’s situation overnight.           

“I will be able to work one job, able to afford the rent, and most of all enjoy spending quality time with my family.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says COVID-19 has led to public recognition of essential workers and the crucial work they do.

“The crisis and response has highlighted what cleaners and security guards have always known – that their work is essential, difficult, and risky, while their low pay is barely enough to make ends meet,” Annie says.

“As we rebuild our economy, we must no longer accept that low wages are OK for anyone, especially essential workers. The Government has a responsibility to play a leadership role here.

“They have done the right thing by paying the Living Wage to directly employed workers in the core public service. Now’s the time to honour the promise to their cleaners and security guards – they are the stars who are shining bright through COVID-19.”

ENDS

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

Union stands in solidarity with members over death at worksite

E tū offers sincere condolences in the wake of the tragic death of a member from Auckland’s Alto Packaging.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says the union stands in solidarity with his family and fellow union members who have lost one of their own.

“Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones, as well as his colleagues and the wider community, who have been deeply affected by his sudden death,” Rachel says.

“We believe that everyone should have the right to return safely from work each day and will do all we can to support both his family and our members in the coming days.”

ENDS

For more info and comment:
Rachel Mackintosh 027 543 7943
Rachel will be available to take media calls after 8pm tonight

Temperzone workers to picket on Monday

E tū and FIRST Union members at Auckland air conditioning and ventilation manufacturing plant Temperzone, are set to picket near the premises on Monday.

Many workers had to use up their leave or take leave in advance during the lockdown, and they now face selection scores for possible redundancy.

At the picket, members and their families will hand out flyers to the public to explain how they’ve been treated by the company during COVID-19 alerts.

It is also expected to be the first physically distanced community picket in the country.

E tū delegate Pena Tamamasui says workers are picketing because they’ve “had enough of being disrespected at work”.

“The company used our leave and only applied for the subsidy a week ago, after they proposed to cut up to 85 of our jobs.”

Last week, workers received letters confirming their selection scores for redundancy, and they feel Temperzone is not listening to their feedback or engaging in good faith.

“Our community and the public needs to know how we’ve been treated and that it’s not on. We all need to do our bit so New Zealand recovers, and our community needs to know Temperzone isn’t,” Pena says.

E tū is calling for New Zealand to rebuild better as a nation, and that means keeping New Zealand manufacturing jobs for our communities.

Rebuilding better also means workers’ wages leading our recovery, E tū Team Leader Jen Natoli says.

“Everyone should get 100% of their normal pay – instead of seeing their leave used and weekly income reduced to the point of wondering how they will put food on the table for their families,” Jen says.

“By putting money in people’s pockets, we make sure that goods and services are kept in demand in all our local communities, keeping businesses thriving – that’s how our economy will recover.”

Workers will picket in non-work time, still working their hours as expected.

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Jen Natoli, 027 591 0041

For details about the picket:

Blue Rika, 027 204 6339

Members will be picketing from 6am-8am on the corner of Massey Rd and Tidal Rd in Mangere.

Air NZ workers ‘devastated’ as more than 1300 lose jobs

More than 1300 workers will lose their jobs as Air New Zealand has announced staffing cuts affecting all routes. 

Long- and mid-haul workers will lose 950 jobs, out of 1600. 

For domestic crew, 300 workers will be made redundant across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. 

Regional airlines are also affected, with a combined loss of 97 jobs between Air Nelson and Mt Cook Airline.

One E tū cabin crew member, who wishes to remain anonymous, says they are “absolutely devastated”. 

“Having seen first-hand the work done by our union members, and still having this result, is crushing. Air New Zealand values its staff less than its profit and shareholders, which so sad to see unfold.” 

“The company’s process has been rushed, overbearing, heavy-handed, and uncompromising. I don’t believe the feedback in the consultation process was ever truly evaluated or applied.” 

The member says their future is uncertain, and they expect they will “slip into the thousands and thousands of job applicants” and look at retraining for completely different work. 

They say Air New Zealand needs to “re-establish the culture that they have kicked to the curb and re-establish the trust they have shattered”.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says many more workers are also devastated. 

“It couldn’t be much worse for some of Air New Zealand’s loyal cabin crew,” Rachel says. 

“Many are completely gutted – they have committed years to making Air New Zealand a world class airline, only to be out of work with huge uncertainties about ongoing careers in their industry.” 

Rachel says E tū has been calling for a better process at Air New Zealand since the start of the crisis. 

“Air New Zealand employees need the company to be much more transparent, accommodating, and compassionate if they are to build their way back to being a strong national carrier. 

“E tū is calling for Air New Zealand, other companies, and the Government to rebuild better – making sure we keep and create decent jobs and have union members involved in all decisions.”

ENDS 

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