Author: E tū

Air NZ cuts not good enough for Kiwis

Air New Zealand has announced specific details today about their decision to cut around 1500 jobs from their cabin crew workforce.

Savage, E tū’s Head of Aviation, says that the New Zealand public will share worker’s dissatisfaction with the news.

“Kiwis care about each other and about the success of our national carrier, so today’s news that Air New Zealand wants to rush to axe 1500 cabin crew roles will be of real concern to the public,” Savage says.

“Like all aviation workers, Air New Zealand cabin crew are trained and committed professionals. They want to see the airline succeed and prosper again. Like the New Zealand public, they want to see it carry on with even better safety, service, and standards.”  

However, Savage says, the company is risking their good reputation by speeding into a redundancy process.

“The company’s plan to lay off thousands of people while the country is still in lockdown is the wrong move. It’s too rushed and it doesn’t need to be. That is not what fair consultation looks like and is very disappointing to see a once proud company get it so wrong. They risk destroying the very organisation they are trying to save.

“The wage subsidy, Air New Zealand’s cash reserves, and the government loan means we have the time to properly work through a process and look to the future. E tū members can see the scale of the problem and want a ‘just transition’ approach, where people are at the heart of the process.

“We need time to develop plans for redeployment and repurposing, for retraining and a proper recovery for the airline. Only then can the company, with its workers, set themselves up for success. that’s what New Zealand needs right now.”

E tū has welcomed the news today that the Government has appointed former New Zealand Council of Trade Unions President Ross Wilson as independent advisor to the Air New Zealand Board of Directors providing strategic advice from a unionised worker perspective.

“Having a worker’s voice at the top table will help steer or national airline through tough times and help the airline’s leadership see there are better options,” Savage says.

ENDS

For more info and comment:

Savage, 027 540 0074

Update for Fletchers members

E tū officials met with Fletcher and subsidiary company representatives to discuss the Bridging Pay Programme (BPP) they proposed and the consultation packet they have sent to workers who did not agree to the BPP by the company’s short time frames.

None of the options the company has offered in the packet are good enough in our view, and given the pressure of agreeing to something or potentially not having enough income for your needs, we view any choice you make as under duress.  However, we encourage you to do what works best for you so you have money to live.  You need to select the option that’s best for you in a bad situation.

E tū will continue to pursue all avenues to try to improve the situation for members and your families now and continuing after the lockdown.  Union reps have met with the company and been very clear that we will raise our deep concerns at all levels, including with MBIE, who we have now contacted.

Our understanding from the company is that those who did not agree before the company cut off to the BPP can still do so, and you also have access to the other options the company outlined in the consultation packs.  After you discuss the option that works best for you with your manager, if the company tells you that option isn’t available for you, please get that in writing and talk to your delegate.

E tū members at Fletchers: “We’ll be screwed”

E tū members at Fletcher Building Ltd are opening up about how they expect their pay cut to affect them and their families.

The company has announced that most workers are in line for a wage cut of up to 70%, while the top executives on millions of dollars a year will have a 30% cut.

Dave Asher, who works at Winstone Wallboards, which is part of the Fletcher building products division, feels betrayed.

“I feel bloody stabbed in the back,” Dave says.

“It’s as if we are worthless and of no value to the company. It would be awesome to get them to listen to us, but we’re getting no feedback through. It’s not good enough for us.

“I feel for the families who live paycheque to paycheque. How are they going to handle this? For the younger ones, it’s going to be a tough ask.”

Tame Wairepo-Bell is worried about what such a major pay cut would do for him, his partner, and their 5-month old daughter, Piper-Mae.

“If I was to lose 70% of my wage, I worry that I wouldn’t be able to give our child the support she needs. We’ll do everything we can to provide the essentials for her, but it would probably mean I myself won’t be able to eat.”

One E tū member spoke anonymously about what the cuts would mean for his shopping list.

“It will put me into severe hardship. At 50% pay I may be able to cover some costs but would have to skip buying some basic household items and would have a really limited choice of groceries.

“30% would mean potentially defaulting on my mortgage. We’d be screwed.”

Another anonymous worker shared the sentiment.

“Don’t know what to do when the money drops down – we’ll have to talk to the bank and see what we can do. We’ll be screwed.

“This is a big company that makes big profits. The people on the floor who put all the work out get nothing and the executives stay on high wages. I feel gutted, it wasn’t what I expected.

That worker also urged the company to make a more realistic offer and engage in good faith.

“It would take a lot of the stress away. If they don’t, I don’t know how we will survive, I really don’t.”

E tū Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher says it isn’t over yet.

“We’re deeply concerned by Fletcher’s behaviour. We believe their proposal to date has been nothing short of unlawful, and our members desperately need the company to rethink it. We’ll be reporting the company’s behaviour to MBIE, as well as continuing to talk to the Government.

We are pleased that Fletchers are applying for the wage subsidy, but they need to come to the party with a meaningful contribution of their own in these unprecedented times.”

ENDS

For more info or comment: Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

A sad end for Virgin NZ

E tū members are hugely disappointed that Virgin Australia has decided to shut up shop in New Zealand quickly, bringing a tight knit workforce to an abrupt end.

The company emailed staff last night, telling them a shutdown was effective immediately. Roughly 600 New Zealand-based staff have lost their jobs.

Kylie Halligan, flight attendant and E tū member, says the last three weeks “have been a complete roller coaster”.

“To say I’m devastated is an understatement. I’ve not only lost a job, I’ve lost a family. The Virgin Australia bases here in NZ were relatively small and we all knew everyone. The bonds formed while working and staying away from home all the time could never be replicated in any other profession.”

Other members anonymously shared their sadness.

“It came as a huge blow for my partner and me who were both employed by Virgin with combined service years of close to 20 years. It’s not just a job loss. It was a way of life and a career we cherished too, for me and the hundreds of others we’ve worked with. It’s an extremely sad time for all, as some of us have been here since the very beginning of the NZ operation and it breaks my heart seeing it all end so abruptly,” says one member.

Another member says the company hasn’t done enough to soften the blow.

“The tag line of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be ‘these are unprecedented times’. This phrase has been used to justify some of the most disappointing behaviour that I have seen from Virgin Australia to date. In the past month, my world and many others have been abruptly shaken, and rather than being given kindness, support and compassion from the company which I have served for the past 12 years, they have given me anguish, stress, and uncertainty.

“It will be very tough for many of us to move forward now, for people like me who have flown for the most of our lives, for the solo mothers who fly with us, for the pilots who have trained for a decade or more to get to where they were. The airline industry will not be what it was before. We are unlikely to find jobs working as crew again with much ease. My heart is broken from the sudden upheaval for my whānau and I feel dazed and lost.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says that the union isn’t convinced Virgin needed to close so quickly.

“The company should have applied for the wage subsidy and done more to ensure the continuity of employment and pay for their workers. We are urging all employers, in aviation and beyond, to take advantage of the government wage subsidy and not let the workers bear the full brunt of the downturn.”

“The global aviation industry is in a precarious state. Airlines has been in a race to the bottom for over a decade and workers are paying the price.

“Fortunately, E tū members have been totally united though this which has allowed them to secure the full redundancy package under their collective agreement, plus some additional travel benefits. This had been uncertain through the last few weeks, but members stood tall.

“However, 19 members who have been employed for less than a year aren’t entitled to redundancy – this is a real concern for those members and their families. It’s not good enough.”

ENDS

For more info and comment
Rachel Mackintosh, 027543 7943

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