Author: E tū

No April Fool as IDEA workers go on strike

Hundreds of IDEA members turned out across the Country on 1 April standing loud and proud for a better deal at work.

From Northland to Southland member grabbed picket signs, braved torrential rain and made headlines across the country.

With paid stop-work meetings coming up in the week of the 15  April, another strike could be on the  cards.

The Christchurch tragedy

Dear E tū members,

We have returned to work this week under the sorrowful shadow of a great and unjust tragedy.

On behalf of all E tū members I express my respect and support to all of our many Muslim and migrant members and your families. We are proud of what you bring to your union and your country.

Our Christchurch members and your families feel, understandably, that you have been kicked in the guts again.

Our Christchurch union staff and a number of elected delegates supported each other in lockdown at our Cashel St office into Friday evening while the situation unfolded and stabilised. We have staff and members who have been directly affected by this terrorist atrocity.

I would like to thank our E tū members at the hospitals that have been working around the clock to make sure the victims get the best care possible. This includes security, orderlies, cleaners, food service workers and trade staff.

I believe New Zealanders have a keen collective sense of respect, tolerance, dignity and a fair-go for all and this has really shone through in our nations response over recent days.  I have received a huge number of messages of support from across the global union movement, expressing the solidarity of working people across the world.

We mourn with our fellow Kiwis who have lost their loved ones.  Our union can play a key role in assisting members over the next period.  We have already started assisting with public rallies during the weekend and that will continue.

Please click here for some more information from us that I hope you find helpful.

Solidarity Christchurch.

Bill Newson
National Secretary

Care home staff shortages critical

E tū says staffing in aged care is inadequate and frequently unsafe for residents and carers.

An E tū/NZNO survey of 1200 caregivers reveals just one in ten staff believed their rest homes were sufficiently staffed to provide quality care.

Most report cares were missed on most if not all shifts as staff ration care.

In one tragic case, a resident died because they saw how over-worked the staff were and didn’t want to report an infected wound.

E tū members regularly report just two caregivers on shifts providing care for up to 60 frail and vulnerable people.

E tū delegate and care and support worker, Marianne Bishop says the survey reflects the reality of working life for the country’s aged care workforce. 

“We believe staffing is inadequate to deliver quality care. We know from the survey that many carers are in despair.

“They’re absolutely exhausted at their end of their shift. They can’t take breaks because they want to get the work done. Then at the end of the day, they’re sitting in their cars and crying.

“And it’s not just about them. It’s about the care that’s being denied to the people they care for. It’s not right.

“We love our jobs, but I feel I can’t do the job to the standard I think our residents deserve. If you’re really short-staffed basic cares like showers don’t get done. And frequently, you can’t toilet people on time which is an insult to people’s dignity.”

Both unions want a review of the voluntary staffing standards for aged care, which allocates just 6 minutes per hour per resident, and are calling for higher mandatory staffing levels.

“Care is being denied to vulnerable elderly people who need it,” says E tū Industry Coordinator, Alastair Duncan.

“Our caregivers are burning out as they struggle with unsafe workloads. The sector has long been under-funded, and staffing has been an issue for years. 

“But now it’s been cut to the bone at a time when residents are frailer with more complex care needs. At the end of the day it’s the vulnerable elderly who suffer,” he says.

“It means carers can’t spend any quality time at all with them. Our members get very upset that they can’t spare a moment to comfort an elderly person, or just talk to them.”

ENDS

For more information contact:
Alastair Duncan E tū Industry Coordinator Care and Support Ph. 027 245 6593.

We can also provide contact details for Marianne Bishop and other caregivers.

Fair tax proposal will benefit workers

E tū supports the report released by the Tax Working Group today, which proposes changes to the tax system, including a capital gains tax.

Assistant National Secretary John Ryall says that the proposals would clearly make the tax system fairer.

“It’s unreasonable for workers to pay tax on every hour on the job, while speculators don’t pay a cent on what they make off some investments,” John says.

“No one seriously argues that we don’t need taxation, so it’s easy to understand that everyone should pay their fair share for all the infrastructure and services our taxes pay for.”

“The capital gains tax would also be part of a much-needed intervention in the housing market, where house prices and rents are soaring far beyond acceptable levels.”

However, John says the tax system could still be improved.

“To really tackle inequality, we do need other changes. If lower income earners shouldered less of the tax burden, we would see outcomes improve across society. The costs of poverty affect everyone.

“While the Tax Working Group’s preference is to increase the bottom tax threshold, the report states that ‘a material reduction in income inequality through the personal tax system would require broader income tax changes’ – we think that’s worth exploring, as well as other options outside of the Tax Working Group’s scope.

“We also need to clean up the secondary tax system which sees many low-paid workers doing multiple jobs paying more than they are obliged to.

“While they can claim this overpayment back as a refund, that added layer of complication is unnecessary and means that some workers miss out.”

ENDS

John can be contacted from 4pm on 027 520 1380

IDEA members to vote on strike action

IDEA support and administration member are meeting this month in a series of nationwide meetings to vote on possible industrial action.

Nearly 3000 union members are eligible to attend the meetings which will receive an update on the negotiations which started in December.

The strike vote comes after IDEA pushed for cuts to sick leave rights and demanded staff become more “ flexible” by agreeing to move between workplaces without notice. If passed, the strike action would not be scheduled for April.

For their part union delegates are posing the need to address serious health and safety concerns and restore overtime and weekend pay rights which were slashed by IHC in the 1990s.

The meetings are paid for those staff rostered to attend and IDEA has agreed to release members to attend.

Click here for a full list of meetings.

The result of the strike vote will be known at the end of the month.

Westpac leads the pack

E tū congratulates Westpac for becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Westpac is the first bank to become a Living Wage bank, following other large corporates like Vector and AMP.

While the bank’s directly employed staff are not affected, the workers employed by contractors will be getting a big pay bump as the Living Wage is rolled out.

E tū’s Living Wage Lead Organiser, Mat Danaher, says that it’s brilliant news for cleaners, security guards, and others.

“We know that workers employed by contractors can often get left out of the wages discussion. Westpac are showing that to truly be a responsible employer, anyone with regular and ongoing work in an organisation needs to be paid fairly,” Mat says.

“Many E tū members in jobs on or near the minimum wage have seen massive increases thanks to the Living Wage Movement and the employers who are stepping up to the plate.”

Mat says that it’s now time for other banks and wealthy organisations to get on board.

“Let’s face it – Westpac are one of very many organisations who could easily absorb the small cost of bringing workers employed by contractors up to the Living Wage. We’re calling on the other big Aussie banks, and indeed all large, profitable organisations, to take this important step.”

Mat says that organisations moving to the Living Wage has positive effects that reach further than just the workers who get an increase.

“All the evidence says that bringing up wages is the most straight-forward way to address inequality. This has massive flow-on effects for our whole economy. Low pay costs our country billions – through low productivity, poor health and education outcomes, and the government top ups that poverty wages necessitate.

“A big congratulations to Westpac for breaking the cycle. Our members across many industries and organisations are looking forward to achieving the same.”

ENDS

For more information and comment, please send Mat Danaher a text message – 021 336 519

Next step for Fair Pay Agreements

E tū, the largest private sector trade union in New Zealand, is pleased with the recommendations of the Fair Pay Agreement working group, released today.

The report includes strong arguments for the need to change the system to be fairer for workers. It explains how similar industry-wide bargaining systems have been crucial for lifting living standards around the world.

The recommendations are comprehensive and include a detailed design of a Fair Pay Agreement system.

E tū security guard Wayne Richdale says it’s high time for fairness across the security industry.

“I’ve worked in security on just above the minimum wage. It’s tough,” Wayne says.

“Now that I’m on the Living Wage, thanks to our campaign at Wellington City Council, getting by is a lot easier. I wish that all of my colleagues in the security industry were afforded the same respect.”

However, Wayne says it’s not just about decent pay.

“Pay is just one of many issues in the security industry. A decent Fair Pay Agreement could give security guards job security, sort out health and safety issues, ensure decent training and education opportunities, and a whole lot more.

“A lot of the bigger firms try to do things pretty well. It’s the pirates out there that undercut everyone else to get contracts – that’s what’s driving down pay and conditions and that’s what Fair Pay Agreements will address.”

E tū’s Assistant National Secretary John Ryall, who is on the Working Group, says many industries could benefit from a Fair Pay Agreement.

“Security is one of a number of industries where workers are crying out for fair, minimum standards,” says John.

“Many workers, particularly those employed by contractors, are affected by the ‘race to the bottom’ in their industries. This is why workers such as cleaners have been stuck on or just above minimum wage for far too long.

“The recommendations released today are just one step in the process – our union is very eager to see the Government take action on Fair Pay Agreements as soon as possible.

“I’m pleased to have played my part in the process and I’m confident that workers’ voices have been well represented in the process so far.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
John Ryall – 027 520 1380

E tū members may be available for interviews throughout the day, please contact Sam Gribben – 027 204 6329

Foundry workers out in the cold

Workers employed by MFL Ltd (formerly Masport Foundry) in Auckland returned from their holiday this week to find they had no jobs, no wages, and no holiday pay.

They were sent on their annual Christmas shut-down early and were told that they would be returning to work on 7 January. However, MFL Ltd went into receivership on 18 December.

About 90 workers with specialised skills are now going into 2019 without secure employment.

Pati Pele, who has worked at the foundry for nearly 30 years, is “pretty bummed out” that the company has treated their loyal workers like this.

“We committed our loyalty to this company. To be sent on holiday without knowing this was going to happen, and in fact being told we would be back to work this month, made this a big shock and really upsetting, especially at this time of year,” Pati says.

Debashish Mukherjee shares that sentiment. “I am absolutely gutted by what has happened and that there was no inkling that this was coming,” he says.

“This has been very hard for me and my family as we are basically out of money. As a 62-year-old, I am worried that I may not be able to find work as a skilled machine operator.”

Matthew Mateariki, a maintenance fitter who did his apprenticeship with the company and has worked there for 17 years, worries about his colleagues’ job prospects.

“I’m feeling lucky as I have a trade, but I’m gutted for my workmates as they are skilled foundrymen whose specialised skills may now be redundant,” he says.

“I am absolutely disgusted at the way me and my fellow workers, most of who have been there for a long time, were treated.”

Ahlene McKee, E tū’s Northern Region Director of Organising, says that the union is doing everything possible to get the workers through this difficult period.

“We’re helping the workers file claims with the receiver, prepare CVs, and we’ve brought in WINZ consultants to explain what entitlements the workers may be able to get,” Ahlene says.

“Some companies have already been in touch offering jobs to these workers, which is encouraging. However, there are a lot more jobs needed – and fast.

“These are hardworking and skilled machine operators, fitters, fettlers, electricians, patternmakers, furnace operators, gantry crane operators, and dispatch workers. We hope that more employers out there will come forward with job offers.

“Anyone can see that these workers have been treated appallingly and deserve a fair go.”

ENDS

Affected workers may be available for media interviews. For more information and comment, please contact Ahlene McKee on 027 591 0065.

E tū celebrates largest ever minimum wage increase

The minimum wage is set to increase by $1.20 to $17.70 in April 2019 – the largest increase in the adult minimum wage in New Zealand history in dollar terms.

This is the biggest leap yet towards the Coalition Government’s promise to increase the minimum wage to $20 by 2021.

E tū National Secretary Bill Newson says the increase is another clear demonstration of the Coalition Government’s commitment to working people.

“This Government continues to prove that they really care about workers and their families,” Bill says.

“Lifting the minimum wage is relatively straight forward, and the evidence shows that bringing wages up is the clear path out of poverty in New Zealand.

“Together with the recent Employment Relations Act changes and the ongoing work on Fair Pay Agreements, the Government is taking us in the right direction. This is another good step forward.”

Mareta Sinoti, a cleaner at the National Library in Wellington, says that while the increase is welcome, it’s not going to solve all the problems.

“The thing is, we need a Living Wage,” Mareta says.

“Everything is just too expensive. Rent, food, and transport costs are increasing all the time. When you add up the 10-trip for the train, the costs of clothes for our families, and everything else, it’s just too much.

“It’s great that the minimum wage is going up to $17.70, but how long have we waited for it to get there?”

ENDS