Author: E tū

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.

E tū: NZ First photographs deeply worrying

14 February 2020

MEDIA RELEASE

E tū: NZ First photographs deeply worrying

The journalists’ union, E tū is seeking an assurance from New Zealand First on behalf of its journalist members, that it is not involved in tracking journalists as they go about their work.

Reports that coalition member New Zealand First took photographs of Stuff journalist Matt Shand and RNZ journalist Guyon Espiner meeting former New Zealand First president Lester Gray in Tauranga are deeply worrying.

Paul Tolich, E tū Senior National Industrial Officer says the union is not reassured by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ initial response that “we took the photographs just to prove that’s the behaviour going on”, nor his subsequent claim that one of the party’s supporters took the photograph.

“Mr Peters and his party might be unhappy with the reporting of the party’s fundraising, but journalism’s role is to hold those in power to account without fear or favour,” says Paul.

“The work of Mr Shand and Mr Espiner is a good example of that.

“The sort of tactics undertaken by New Zealand First in photographing the journalists and then having the photograph posted on a right-wing political blog is chillingly similar to other examples of attacks on journalists as they go about their work in countries where the freedom of journalists is suppressed.

“Mr Peters needs to apologise to the journalists and give a categorical assurance nothing like this will happen again.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Paul Tolich E tū Senior Industrial Officer ph. 027 593 5595

Imperial Tobacco closure blow to workers, community

E tū says today’s confirmation that the Imperial Tobacco plant in Petone will close is a blow to the members as well as the wider Lower Hutt community.

E tū organiser Damon Rongotaua says the closure, which means the loss of 122 jobs, is the result of several factors which have sounded the death knell for the 100-year old plant.

“It’s a combination of factors and unfortunately they feed off each other,” Damon says.

“As a result of health policies designed to reduce smoking including higher excise, there are declining sales and over-capacity both here and in Australia, where some of the product is sold. The plant also needs up to $4 million to bring it up to code. They’ve got two practically new plants overseas and that’s where this work will be going.

“So, there’s no coming back from it unfortunately. It’s the downside of globalisation,” he says.

Damon says E tū members have a collective agreement with one of the best redundancy clauses in the country and many will get big pay outs, especially those with decades of service.

But he says other workers with little service behind them have been hit hard. 

“We’ve got a couple pushing 50 years’ service; many have 35 to 45 years’ service, and about 35% have about 25 years’ service plus. About 40% have done 10-25 years, and then there are the newer workers.

“They’re really upset about it, because they’ve just got a really well-paid job and now it’s over.”

Damon says the plant pumped millions of dollars into the Hutt Valley, to the benefit of the workers but also local businesses.

“The ones that have been there a while, they’ve been expecting it. But it’s still a sad day for them. Actually, it’s a sad day for the whole Hutt Valley. It’s going to leave a massive hole in the community and the economy.

“I know it’s not the retail product of choice but for all the bad press around it, it’s helped a lot of people to buy homes and kept communities running.”

Damon says the factory will go through a staged shut-down with the decommissioning of the plant due to be completed by the end of the year.

He says over that time the union will be working to ensure company commitments to provide re-employment assistance are met and that redundancy payments are correct.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Damon Rongotaua E tū organiser ph. 027 591 0010

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.”

E tū: safety of Air NZ Wuhan crew paramount

The union for aviation, E tū, says it’s working to secure assurances about the safety of up to 10 volunteer cabin crew and any ground crew operating the Air New Zealand evacuation flight from Wuhan.

The Chinese city is at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 170 lives, with the World Health Organisation declaring a global health emergency as confirmed cases surge past 8000.

E tū Head of Aviation, Savage, says so far around 40 crew members have volunteered for the flight that will collect New Zealanders in Wuhan and return them home.

He understands the flight will head to Wuhan on Sunday or Monday. A 777-200 aircraft will be used and the operating crew will fly to Hong Kong the day before so they can rest before the long flight to Wuhan and on to Auckland. 

It is possible an aircraft engineer and aircraft loaders may also travel to Wuhan to ensure a successful turn-around.

Savage says a priority for the crew is ensuring everything is done to keep them safe.

“There’s no shortage of volunteers, but they are asking questions about the safety protocols for the flight and they won’t be flying until they’re satisfied about that,” says Savage.

“Crew need to know that they’re safe, what their risk of infection is as well as the risk of passing something on when they get back. That’s the biggest concern they have, that they could pick it up and not know it and pass it on to colleagues or friends and family.

“We may sign a special agreement for the flight to clarify what to expect and what the conditions are.”

Savage says that includes covering issues such as equipment and protective clothing, quarantine and containment protocols if anyone gets sick, as well as issues related to insurance and members’ sick leave if they do get sick or are quarantined.

Meanwhile, Savage says delegates and health and safety reps continue to be proactive in seeking the latest information from Air New Zealand on the situation, especially as other airlines suspend flights to China.

“As the virus continues to spread, there are anxieties among airport workers. We’re hearing from ground crew members at Menzies Aviation who are wary of touching baggage from China in case it puts them at risk, so there’s misinformation out there about the dangers.

“Good information is the best defence against fear and anxiety. Airlines like Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia have so far been forthcoming with information and we expect that will continue.”

ENDS

For further information, contact: Savage E tū Head of Aviation ph. 027 590 0074

ERA facilitation win for Woburn Masonic members

E tū members at Woburn Masonic aged care home in Lower Hutt have won their application to the Employment Relations Authority for facilitated bargaining of their dispute with owners, Masonic Care Limited.

The union applied to the ERA for facilitation after members were unable to secure a collective agreement following nearly 12 months of talks, mediation and a series of strikes just before Christmas.

The members, who have likened their current rosters to the availability requirements of now illegal zero-hour contracts, want set shifts and hours as well as better sick leave, weekend pay rates, and long service leave.

Delegate Sela Mulitalo says the ERA decision in favour of facilitation is a big win and vindicates last year’s industrial action.

“This is a positive win for us, and we are hoping for a resolution. We didn’t know if we’d win it, because Masonic Care opposed it. And while we took strike action, we needed to have other channels to work through and that’s what we’ve got,” says Sela.

“What we are hoping for is just to be heard – for our truth to be heard, and our struggle, because we can’t live proper lives if we always have to be available to work.

“We just want a proper roster, that’s where we want the talks focussed, and not to be on call 24/7,” she says.

E tū organiser, Robert Ibell says facilitation is a chance for Masonic Care Limited to agree on conditions which respect the members and the work they do.

“We know it’s possible for the employer to run a roster that gives the members set shifts and set hours. Our members have already produced one.

“We are keen to work with the employer to make this a reality and to ensure these are decent jobs – people should know when they work, what shifts they work and what hours they’ll be working.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact;

Robert Ibell E tū organiser ph. 027 436 089

Robert can also provide contact details for Sela Mulitalo.