Category: Communications

Journalists reject Deputy PM’s comments about the media

In light of the Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ recent comments about the media, a group of journalists who serve as E tū delegates say these claims are misinformed.

Mr Peters has claimed the Public Interest Journalism Fund was a government “bribe” – which is a well-known but incorrect claim made amongst those who peddle conspiracy theories. He has further doubled down on that by saying he is at “war” with the media. We strongly reject claims of a bribe.

Journalism was just one of many industries that got government help as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. There was never any expectation tied to the Public Interest Journalism funding to cover any one topic, or in any one way, and there were clear and well-publicised conditions for the work produced.

While journalists strongly reject Mr Peters’ claims, we will all continue to cover him, New Zealand First, and all parties in an unbiased way. The media has an important role to play in a democracy, holding politicians to account and acting as a watchdog for the community. 

Journalists at the front line doing their job have faced strong and sometimes unusual pressures recently from people acting on strong views, to limit reporting or the how stories are told.

By spreading misinformation and supporting conspiracy theories, Mr Peters is placing journalists at risk. We urge Mr Peters, as well as other senior politicians and public figures, to support and protect our independent media, not attack it. 

The Post and Stuff delegate Tom Hunt said it was ludicrous to label PIJF a bribe.

“Many of the PIJF journalists were also union members and were bound by E tū’s journalistic ethics, which enshrines editorial independence from outside influence.  

“The Media Council also has principles saying publications should be ‘bound at all times by accuracy, fairness and balance’. Furthermore, media companies have their own standards which enshrine independence. 

“Taking aim at these journalists who are now, or will soon, be facing the end of PIJF funding is a cynical cheap shot.” 

RNZ delegate Phil Pennington said RNZ journalists strive every day to meet the demands of their stringent editorial standards, standards shared with many other media organisations.

“Our journalists’ daily work helps support and protect an environment of free debate and wide-ranging input, and we hope and trust all our political leaders’ efforts do, too.”

Another experienced journalist told E tū that Winston Peters’ attack on the media was reminiscent of how Sir Robert Muldoon behaved. He attacked unionists and journalists, infamously refusing to allow journalist and cartoonist Tom Scott to attend press conferences.

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.”

Allied Press journalists take 24-hour strike action

E tū members working as journalists for Allied Press are walking off the job for a whole day to protest their employer’s current offer on the table for their new collective agreement.

More than 40 members from Dunedin to Invercargill will participate in the day-long strike action with pickets from 9am on Tuesday morning.

Union members are pursuing a decent pay rise that will bring their wages into line with industry pay rates.

ODT delegate and journalist Rebecca Fox says pay rises for members over the last 15 years have not only fallen behind inflation, but behind others in the media industry.

“We recognise how tough the media industry and the ODT has it at the moment, but it can’t be an excuse for unliveable wages.

“Other players in the industry are getting five to six percent pay increases – our last one was two percent,” she says.

Rebecca says it takes around three years for journalists starting out at the ODT to earn even the Living Wage, while those with many years of experience also feel short changed.

“We have people working with 20+ years of experience who are barely getting the new average salary for Otago* which is around $70,000.”

She says for years, journalists at Allied Press have also been struggling with a lack of training and resources, which has added to their feeling of being under-appreciated.

E tū organiser Ann Galloway says negotiations with the company have always been drawn out, and this round of bargaining has been no different.

“Members are fed up with waiting on their employer to give them a decent pay rise.”

In comparison to other newspaper outlets, their pay rates are very low, she says.

“Members are prepared to keep fighting until they receive an offer that they can accept.”

Strike/picket details

Allied Press journalists are striking from 9am on Tuesday 10 October to 9am Wednesday 11 October.

Pickets will be held outside the Otago Daily Times office in Dunedin at 52 Stuart St on Tuesday 10 October at 9am, 12pm, and 5pm.

* According to the most recent Trade Me Jobs report

Stuff union members take strike action over pay offer

Journalists at the larger Stuff newsrooms across Aotearoa have voted to take strike action starting this week, to push for a decent pay rise in their new collective agreement.

The E tū members will take several two-hour strikes this week, including today, and members have also voted for a 24-hour stoppage at a time to be determined next week.

Stuff members have voted to reject the company’s pay offer and to continue to seek a deal that addresses cost of living increases this year. Members’ concerns centre on paying their rent, mortgages, paying their bills, and being able to afford family life.

E tū delegate and Wellington-based Stuff journalist Tom Hunt says the members don’t feel valued.

“The company’s behaviour has been an insult to the journalists it claims to be so proud of,” Tom says.

“Journalists have shared heart-breaking stories of how low pay is affecting them. We are hearing of one having to eat baked beans three nights a week and having to hold off on having children because they cannot afford it.

“Nobody got into journalism to get rich, but they expect to be able to cover the basic costs of living. Staff are leaving in huge numbers for better paying jobs. Those still here are getting increasingly angry and frustrated with a company that seems not to care.

“The increase we are asking for is only to match the cost of living increases – we will still be no better off in real terms.”

E tū organiser Michael Gilchrist says while Stuff has agreed to establish a stepped pay scale for members with annual progression through the steps, this will only be a significant improvement if cost of living increases are also addressed.

“The benefit of what we’ve negotiated so far depends on ensuring that members’ pay is not continually eroded by inflation,” he says.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Michael Gilchrist,
021 586 195

Members will take part in rallies in Auckland, Hamilton, and Wellington on Wednesday 30 November from 3-3:30pm.

Ovato redundancies highlight need for income insurance

Over 100 workers have lost their jobs and are set to be out of pocket, as Auckland printing company Ovato goes into liquidation.

Ovato NZ announced its closure earlier this year. However, outstanding debts to IRD mean that workers may only end up receiving the statutory cap of $25,480, no matter how much they are owed.

Workers have outstanding wages, leave, and notice payments owed to them. There is also a claim for unpaid wages from the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

E tū Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher says that workers are really feeling the pressure.

“Through no fault of their own, Ovato’s workers are faced with the prospect of losing money that is rightfully theirs,” says Joe.

“It’s hard enough to make ends meet during this cost of living crisis. Without money that they’ve already earned, things are looking really tough for these workers.

“Ovato should be pulling out all stops to make sure that their workers are looked after properly, first and foremost. The workers have kept the company going for all these years – the company must pay out in full.”

Joe says that this insecurity shows why the proposed New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme is so important.

“It’s not fair that workers are bearing the full brunt of this development. People can have the best redundancy provisions in the world, but it doesn’t mean much if there isn’t the money to pay it out.

“Instead, E tū strongly supports the New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme (NZIIS), so that there is a universal mechanism to make sure workers have enough money to make ends meet when faced with job insecurity.

“It might be too late for the workers at Ovato, but we need to make sure the NZIIS is developed and implemented as quickly as possible to reduce workers facing such hardships in the future.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

NZ Post update 16 April 2020

Bargaining update

E tū and PWUA officials have met by videoconference to finalise the terms of settlement for bargaining. We are planning to meet with the company again on Thursday 16 April.

Once the settlement is signed, we will contact our delegates to discuss ratification options. We are still waiting to see what kind of restrictions will be in place after/if the initial 4 week lockdown is finished. Once we all understand what we can and can’t do, we will be able to work out how to vote on the agreement in a way that is fair to all members.

Temperature checking

The company has approached us with a proposal to undergo temperature checks for people coming and going from NZ Post sites. This is to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. In principle we agreed with this proposal on the following grounds:

  1. That people sent home with a high temperature would be on special paid leave
  2. That the person carrying out the check would be competent
  3. That testing is voluntary for NZ Post direct employees
  4. That no-one is disadvantaged by the process

We are satisfied that these conditions have been met and Post would like to begin trials at the Porana Rd delivery site and Contract Logistics in Auckland. These will be reviewed, with feedback from the membership guiding any further implementation or changes needed.

It is important to note that temperature checking is not a perfectly accurate way of determining whether someone has COVID-19. It is just an extra precaution on top of all the other health and safety measures that everyone should be following to keep themselves and others safe.

Wage subsidy

NZ Post has confirmed that they intend to apply for the government wage subsidy to help pay workers during the lockdown and subsequent periods of restriction.

This will not affect the pay agreements already in place, nothing will change for you (your tax won’t change either).

But Post does need your permission to apply on your behalf, and we would encourage our members to allow the company to do this. The information they pass on to the Ministry of Social Development is no different to that already passed on to ACC and IRD on your behalf, but they need your permission to do this.

We understand they have put out a communication about this and that your team leader will approach you about seeking your permission for this process.

Essential worker payment

We have had discussions with the company regarding an essential worker payment to recognise those who are continuing to work during the lockdown period. We have been told that extra remuneration is unlikely considering the company’s current COVID-related downturn, but we are continuing talks and also contemplating alternative forms of reward.

Temporary site changes

This was an issue that was raised before bargaining and seems to be ongoing due to the current situation. E tū had bargaining claims regarding any future movements of staff between sites but we could not reach an agreement during negotiations. We did agree though to work on a long term solution that would benefit our members.

In the meantime, we agreed that the following interim agreement would be printed in the letters of settlement:

  • This is a voluntary arrangement.
  • The Union will be advised before the Company seeks volunteers
  • The employee’s current terms and conditions of employment will remain unchanged.
  • The Management of Change provisions under Section F of the Collective Employment Agreement will not apply to this temporary arrangement but will continue to apply generally, for example the employee’s entitlement to any redundancy compensation remains unaffected in the event of permanent changes to their role in the future.

These principles will apply to any voluntary moves that may be offered by the company from now until a permanent solution is reached.

Worksafe

We understand that a worker at NZ Post has contacted Worksafe to highlight non-essential product being processed by the company. The company has told us that Worksafe is satisfied regarding this matter. They say that they have an obligation to process everything that is lodged in the system, and they have also told us that they have spoken to their business customers and informed them not to send any non-essential mail.

Before closing their inquiry though, Worksafe have asked to speak to some Health and Safety reps to discuss practices on site. We have nominated JD Rawiri, Lana Leota and Corey Howland to speak to Worksafe to discuss on site safety.

Paid meal breaks

The union has just signed an agreement regarding paid 30 minute meal breaks for current operations employees who were entitled to a paid meal break as at 26 June 2016 but have subsequently lost them due to changes in role. There are specific workers who may now be entitled to receive a paid meal break again as a result of this agreement.

The criteria are workers who:

  1. are employed under the Operations schedule; and
  2. were employed by New Zealand Post under the collective agreement before 26 June 2016 (for the avoidance of doubt, they do not need to have been employed since 26 June 2016 under the Operations occupational schedule in particular); and
  3. as at 26 June 2016 had an entitlement to a paid 30-minute meal break (for the avoidance of doubt, and without limiting examples, that includes Operations employees who would have been entitled to a 30-minute paid meal break but did not use the entitlement because they worked fewer than 5 hours, and employees who worked outside of Operations who were entitled to a 30-minute paid meal break as at 26 June 2016, but does not include ex-ECL employees who did not have a paid meal break).

The employees covered by the clause will lose their entitlement to the paid break if:

  1. their current continuous service is broken or was broken on or after 26 June 2016; or
  2. they move or have moved to a position outside of the Operations schedule, where a 30-minute paid meal break does not apply.

The company will also be making an ex-gratia payment to the eligible workers:

  • at 30 minutes for every day worked;
  • plus 30 minutes for every day that would ‘otherwise be a working day’ and on which the affected employee took paid leave, and would have been entitled to the paid break had they worked;
  • from the date on which the affected employee lost their paid 30-minute meal break; and 
  • at the employee’s current remuneration rate under the collective agreement. 

Essential worker leave

One of our delegates has raised that the criteria for vulnerable people on the NZ Post form is slightly different to what is outlined on the Ministry of Health website. It is our belief that the Ministry of Health website overrides the company’s criteria. Anyone who is having issues receiving special leave for these reasons should talk to their union delegate.  

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.

NZ Post bargaining update – 12 March 2020

E tū, PWUA and NZ Post met for three days of bargaining over 10,11 and 12 March.

There were over 90 claims combined between the three parties and over 50 people in the room so it is a large and complex bargaining process.

Amongst many important claims, the major claims for E tū were around wages, location of work and movement between sites, and a fair deal for PPM posties if PPM is taken away. These claims remain unresolved and we are not satisfied with the company’s position nor offers on these matters.

There was some provisional agreement on smaller claims of ours including parity for goldplated Courier Post members, a review of bereavement leave wording, a review of annual leave policies and when it can be taken, paid breaks for SDCs. There were also some positive discussions around forklift rates but they are not yet resolved.

Post has the largest number of claims. Some of these were considered clawbacks the by the unions, and we resisted them strongly. We agreed to some claims of the company’s that were simple wording fixes or the removal of unnecessary clauses.

E tū and PWUA worked strongly together to advance the interests of all union members regardless of which union they belong to.

We are meeting again on 18 and 19 March.

PLEASE NOTE: WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE COMPANY IS CURRENTLY SENDING OUT UPDATE TO ALL MANAGERS AND TEAM LEADERS. THIS UPDATE IS THE COMPANY’S UPDATE ONLY AND DOES NOT REFLECT E TŪ’S POSITION ON ALL MATTERS.

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: brent@nbr.co.nz

Names in by Tuesday 3 March please.