Author: E tū

Future uncertain for NZ Post workers across the country

An estimated 750 people could lose their jobs at NZ Post if a proposal for major changes at the state-owned enterprise goes through as currently signalled.

The radical changes would see the end of the nightshift at the Christchurch Mail Centre, with some members losing up to 30% of their pay. The International Mail Centre and Auckland Operations Centre are facing a ‘dumbing down’ of their roles which would also see their pay reduced and could potentially impact future redundancy compensation.

Further, NZ Post are proposing to move their delivery workers into a contracting model, meaning they would not get the benefits and protections of being directly employed.

Christchurch Mail Centre delegate Nelson Tainui says the workers are feeling the pressure.
“As with all change, it’s the fear of the uncertain, and what it means for everyone’s own individual circumstances,” Nelson says.

“It’s the initial stages of a business-wide change, the breadth and depth of which is still to be determined. We are just one cog in a rather large machine.”

E tū Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher says NZ Post isn’t living up to their social responsibility as a state-owned enterprise.

“NZ Post should be modelling the best practices as a large employer delivering an essential service for Aotearoa New Zealand,” Joe says.

“Instead, they want to join the ranks of the bottom-feeding courier companies who exploit their workers to provide the services at the lowest possible cost.

“It’s particularly galling from a state-owned enterprise, because they should live up to a responsibility to their workers and the wider community by making decent work a priority.

“E tū members have a long and proud history of protecting NZ Post both in the interests of the workforce and to maintain delivery of an excellent service. We will be fighting to protect Post once again.”

Unions welcome a new model for employing staff in the water sector

Members of AWUNZ, E tū, and the PSA have endorsed a multi-union, multi-employer collective agreement that will help improve water services, overcome critical staff shortages, and ensure decent workplaces for everyone working in the industry.

“This is a historic opportunity to work collaboratively with the incoming government to build a workforce that will improve public health,” says Blake Monkley, AWUNZ lead organiser.

“This collective agreement provides career pathways that can attract people to an industry that desperately needs to attract and develop a skilled workforce.”

“Events including widespread flooding, the recent cryptosporidiosis outbreak in Queenstown and sink holes in Auckland show an industry in crisis,” says Ian Gordon, PSA National Sector Lead.

“To respond to this crisis, the country needs a skilled, sustainable water workforce. Without the provisions of this agreement, the industry will keep losing skilled workers it already has and won’t be able to recruit and develop new ones. This agreement is a huge victory for workers and Aotearoa.”

The benefits for workers are clear. “A national employment framework will create clear career paths that will draw people to the industry and keep them there. It will allow the industry to focus on training and developing staff across the industry instead of in isolated pockets,” says Amy Hansen from E tū.

“While negotiating this agreement, it has become increasingly apparent how damaging a fractured approach to employment relations has been to retaining and developing the workforce we need.

“The incoming government needs to recognise how essential the provisions of this agreement are, and it needs to treat workers justly as well, no matter what happens with the water reforms.”

The Amalgamated Workers Union NZ (AWUNZ), E tū, and the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (PSA) represent workers across water management, including technicians, engineers, electricians, administrators, fitters, reticulation workers water, and wastewater treatment operators, local and central government officials, and more.

For two years, the unions worked with members and non-members in the workforce, and the Department of Internal Affairs, to find best path forward. The membership of all three unions have now endorsed this approach by supporting the proposed agreement.

Some useful numbers

  • There is currently a shortage of skilled staff with vacancy rates sitting at approximately 15% across the industry
  • Economic analysis projects that the industry will need 6,000 to 9,000 jobs over the next 30 years.
  • Unions in the sector represent approximately 1850 employees across a wide range of occupations.
  • There are currently 87 collective agreements covering impacted workers with a wide range of different conditions.

ENDS

For more information please contact Hamish McCracken (AWUNZ)
Phone: 0212885609
Email: hamish.mccracken@awunz.org.nz

New members of the National Executive

Congratulations to our three new members of the E tū National Executive, who won the elections held at our Biennial Membership Meetings. 

 Don Pryde – South Island Vice President

Nia Bartley – Central Region Representative

Vivien Welland – Northern Region Representative

 Don, Nia, and Vivien will now join the other members of the National Executive in overseeing the day-to-day operations of our union.

We acknowledge all candidates who put themselves forward in these elections and all the union members who came to meetings during September and October to vote. We are a proudly democratic union. 

National’s tax plan “deeply misleading” – E tū

E tū, the biggest private sector union in Aotearoa New Zealand, is hugely disappointed with the National Party’s policy to implement a tax regime that benefits the wealthy while leaving many others no better off.

The plan, released today, includes an adjustment of tax brackets, reinstating interest deductibility for landlords, removing the Government’s recent public transport subsidies, ending the foreign buyer ban on homes worth over $2 million, and cancelling other government projects.

“This is a deeply misleading policy, because it doesn’t factor in everything National will take away from working families,” says E tū Director, Sarah Thompson.

“Their policy says that average families will be ‘better off’ because of their FamilyBoost policy, but they have not factored in the extra costs on families resulting from the removal of Labour’s ECE funding extension.

“Their numbers also don’t reflect that families will be paying more for public transport under their plan, nor does it include the congestion charges they are planning to implement as part of their transport policy.

“Families who rely on public transport or the extra ECE funding will not be nearly as well off as National claim. They’ll also be paying extra costs when National bring back prescription fees. It’s all smoke and mirrors.”

Sarah says landlords like Christopher Luxon are the real winners from this policy, with $2.3 billion going to them over four years.

“Christopher Luxon does not need to pocket more money. He is on the record saying he doesn’t even know how much his seven properties are worth – he’s doing extremely well.

“That money should be going to increasing essential services, building core infrastructure, supporting those who need it most, and investing in the future of Aotearoa. Instead, he’s going to give billions to himself and his rich mates.”

Sarah says that with lower- and middle-income New Zealanders doing it tough during the cost-of-living crisis, the money should be targeted based on real need.

“It’s galling to hear Luxon describe this as a cost-of-living policy when so much goes to the richest people.

Sarah says today’s announcement is another example that the National Party are going into the election with an anti-worker agenda.

“This is just the latest indicator that National doesn’t really care about working people. Yesterday, they re-committed to extending 90-day trials, despite the evidence clearly showing they don’t work. They will also scrap Fair Pay Agreements, robbing low paid workers of their best opportunity in decades to make real gains.”

ENDS

Funding holes in National’s policies deeply worrying for workers

E tū, the biggest private sector union in Aotearoa New Zealand, is deeply concerned about the prospect of a National-led Government’s ability to fund essential services and infrastructure, after figures released today show their policies create a large fiscal shortfall.

The figures have been released by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, using all the information the National Party have published about their own policy costings to date, as well as data from Treasury and the Reserve Bank. It reveals a shortfall of $3.3bn to $5.2bn, numbers which do not even include major spending promises that remain uncosted by National.

E tū Assistant National Secretary, Rachel Mackintosh, says the National Party must front up now about how they would pay for their election policies.

“National’s promises are expensive, and the party simply cannot make it work without new revenue or significant cuts,” Rachel says.

“The Council of Trade Unions have had to carry out this work because National are still not being upfront with the public about their financial plan. It should really be National’s own responsibility to explain to the voting public how they are going to balance the books. The closer we get to Election Day, the more worrying it is that the National Party can’t present a credible explanation for how they’ll pay for their promises.”

Rachel notes that other parties have been able to present their numbers – Labour through Budget 2023, and the Greens and ACT with their published alternative budgets.

“With National not even able to make their own announced policies stack up financially, we are deeply worried about what this would mean for continued funding of key services. The money must come from somewhere, and so adequately funding things like health and education is at serious risk.”

E tū Co-President, Muriel Tunoho, has worked in community health for decades. She is particularly concerned about what the budget hole would mean for health funding.

“National underfunding the health system is a tale as old as time,” Muriel says.

“People working in the community health spaces are particularly worried because we’ve been forgotten about before. While we have made some gains under Labour, there is still so much more we need to make the health system work for everyone, especially our most marginalised communities.

“Not funding health properly means real hardship for families in Aotearoa. Both the workers and the service users suffer. I have seen poor health outcomes result in all sorts of huge challenges for whānau, it’s heartbreaking.

“E tū members in health need pay equity, safer staffing, and many more improvements. These things require a proper boost to health funding, which we have been campaigning for. Seeing that National can’t even fund their headline election policies is a clear sign that community health would be neglected again.

“Quite simply, National need to turn their policy programme around so that it helps everyone, not just the wealthy few. Now is not the time for tax cuts for the most well-off. It’s the time for serious investment in the communities of Aotearoa.”

ENDS

ACT Party’s contractor policy would lock in the worst for affected workers

E tū, the biggest private sector union in Aotearoa New Zealand, is shocked by the ACT Party’s new policy to stop workers being able to correct their employment status.

The policy, announced today, would mean that contracted workers would not be able to challenge their status in the Employment Court, even when the real nature of their employment relationship meant they should be entitled to the rights and protections employees get.

E tū Assistant National Secretary, Annie Newman, says this would be a huge setback for the workforce.

“We already know that employers use contracts instead of employment agreements unfairly – that’s why we have taken cases to court, and won,” Annie says.

“In 2017, labour hire workers at LSG Sky Chefs proved they were entitled to the benefits and protections of a normal employment relationship. Last year, Uber drivers proved in court that the company is really their employer, and they also deserve the rights of employees.

“While these court cases have been victories for the workers who have taken them, they have also shown the need for employment relations reform that better reflects the changing world of work.

“Instead, the ACT Party are proposing the opposite – locking workers into these exploitative arrangements without any recourse. It’s a terrible position that will bed in the worst outcomes for many people.”

Annie says this is just the latest policy from the Opposition that demonstrates their hostility to working people.

“ACT have also promised to end Fair Pay Agreements and bring back 90-day trials. They have opposed every increase to the minimum wage, opposed doubling sick leave, and even oppose moves to make wage theft a criminal offence.

“These are disastrous positions that will worsen poverty and inequality. Working people in Aotearoa have a lot at stake this election – we must stop politicians from actively pushing us down.”

Zero offer from cleaning employers – not good enough!

Our E tū team has been in bargaining on your behalf for your collective agreement, to try and get better pay and conditions for cleaners across Aotearoa New Zealand. Last week the companies told us they are offering us nothing – no pay rise, no better conditions, just nothing.

That’s not good enough.

We are holding meetings over this week and next to discuss our path forward. As E tū members, we know that we don’t win anything without fighting for it, and we will be working together to pressure the cleaning employers into improving their offer.

Our next steps

We will be working on different ways to make progress on our agreement. The E tū cleaners on our bargaining team are extremely disappointed and we have been talking about all options, including things we can do on site, media opportunities, and the possibility of taking further action. Keep an eye out for more info from your union organiser and delegates as this progresses, so you can have your say.

In the meantime, as usual, the best thing to do is encourage all your workmates to join E tū. They can visit www.etu.nz/join to get started today!

Stay tuned for Fair Pay Agreements news

The good news is that we’re nearly ready to start negotiating our Fair Pay Agreement, which will give us a much better opportunity to win much more meaningful increases to cleaners’ pay and conditions. We’ll be sending you more information about this very soon!

Thanks

Fair Pay Agreement for cleaners approved!

Cleaners across Aotearoa New Zealand are getting a huge opportunity for real improvements to their pay and conditions, with the Chief Executive of MBIE approving the initiation of a Fair Pay Agreement for cleaners.

The news couldn’t have come any sooner. E tū and large cleaning companies involved in a multi-employer collective agreement for commercial cleaners are in negotiations today with much at stake for these low paid workers.

Historic underpayment of cleaners has meant cleaning companies compete for contracts, which drives down pay and conditions – the exact problem the Fair Pay Agreements Act 2022 was passed to address.

E tū member and cleaner, Mele Peaua, who is part of the union’s commercial cleaners negotiating team, says years of inadequate results from bargaining are a clear demonstration of the need for a good Fair Pay Agreement to cover cleaners.

“A Fair Pay Agreement will be ground-breaking for low wage cleaners like us. It will give collective bargaining power to many cleaners who currently have no access to it,” Mele says.

“Normal collective bargaining just isn’t working for cleaners. We have a wonderful opportunity right now to win a good Fair Pay Agreement and reduce inequality and poverty in our communities.”

E tū Transformational Campaigns Director Sarah Thompson agrees.

“The contracting model creates a ‘race to the bottom’ where labour costs are the significant factor in competitive tendering,” Sarah says.

“Having our multi-employer collective agreement has meant negotiating some marginal improvements for cleaners over the years, but it doesn’t stop non-union employers from undercutting companies who might otherwise be open to paying reasonable wages.

“It’s a particular problem in the cleaning industry, and also in security, where E tū has also been approved to negotiate a Fair Pay Agreement.”

Sarah says that all workers should see the value of Fair Pay Agreements and vote for political parties who support them.

“There is currently a huge political focus on the cost of living. Just as we are finally starting to fix these systemic issues through Fair Pay Agreements, the Opposition has promised to tear them up. That’s just appalling, and we need to make sure as a country that we don’t let that happen.”

Nominations for National Executive are now open!

Keen to serve on our union’s National Executive? Now is your chance!

The following E tū National Executive positions are open for nomination:

  • North Island Vice President
  • South Island Vice President
  • Northern Regional Representative
  • Central Regional Representative
  • Southern Regional Representative

The Southern Region is the whole of the South Island (plus Stewart and Chatham Islands). The Central Region includes Wellington, Wairarapa, Horowhenua, Manawatu, Whanganui, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Tai Rawhiti/East Coast. The Northern Region includes Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

To be eligible for one of these positions, you must live in the region and need to have been a financial member of E tū continuously for at least 12 months immediately before being nominated. Nominations must be moved and seconded by financial members, and would-be candidates must state that they wish to be nominated for the position.

All nominations must be received by the Returning Officer, Christopher Gordon (christopher.gordon@etu.nz), by 5pm, Friday 30 June 2023, along with a short bio of the person being nominated.

If there is more than one candidate for any position, an election will be held at the E tū Biennial Membership Meetings in September.

Click here to use the online nomination form