Category: Communications

E tū & Chorus contractors discuss contract cuts

E tū union met today with Visionstream and UCG contractors to discuss big cuts by Chorus to payments for maintenance work on its copper and fibre network north of Auckland.

The changes affect the codes which determine what the contractors are paid, and these have been slashed by almost a third, says E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher.

“The contractors were presented with new contracts and told to sign. The rates that determine their pay are set to drop by 30 percent, and they’re not happy,” he says.

“The new contracts also require they are available for work but there is no guarantee they’ll get any.”

Joe says the contractors are already struggling with rising costs and issues with mental health because of the pressures they face.

“All the costs and risks sit with them but many lack the capital to ride out a lean patch.”

Joe says Chorus committed to improving conditions for its contractors and subcontractors after an investigation found many were in breach of minimum employment standards.

He says in the wake of the investigation, Chorus did its own report, which recommended changes to ease pressure on its contractors, but “that’s not what’s happening here”.

“This latest move flies in the face of Chorus’s commitment to ensure the contractors receive a sustainable income.”

Joe says the meeting, which was hosted by the Telecom Contractors Association of New Zealand (TCANZ) discussed how the contractors and the union can work together to achieve better outcomes.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015

E tū welcomes Local Democracy Reporter scheme

E tū, the union for journalists, has welcomed the announcement today of a $1million pilot scheme to improve local news reporting.

The scheme, dubbed the Local Democracy Reporting Service, will see 8 journalists hired to report on publicly funded bodies such as councils, council committees, community boards, District Health Boards, council-owned enterprises, local trusts, and ports.

The scheme is an initiative of the Newspaper Publishers Association, together with RNZ and the government through the RNZ/NZ on Air Innovation Fund.

E tū Senior National Industrial Officer, Paul Tolich says it’s no secret that reporting on local issues has deteriorated sharply in recent years, as the number of journalists in newsrooms has declined.

“Local bodies and other publicly funded entities are responsible for billions of dollars in public funds and they must be accountable to the public. But as newsrooms have shrunk, there has been less scrutiny than ever of the politicians and officials who manage these often very substantial businesses,” says Paul.

“This scheme will help keep them accountable by ensuring greater scrutiny from the Fourth Estate.”

Paul says the union is also encouraged to see support across the media for the initiative.

“The reporters will be based in newspaper newsrooms, but they will be supplying stories to a wide range of other media.  It’s a great example of cooperation over an issue that has raised concerns across the industry.”

Paul also paid tribute to the government which set up the $6 million RNZ/NZ on Air Innovation Fund which is funding the1-year pilot.

“The fund was set up to support media content which is under-served and that’s certainly the case with our publicly elected and funded organisations. So, this is money that’s been wisely spent.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

Chorus Downer decision welcome

E tū welcomes today’s announcement by Chorus that Downer has secured the maintenance contracts for Chorus’s copper and fibre network outside Auckland and Northland.

Downer’s win comes at the expense of contracting company, Broadspectrum which formerly shared the work, but has now lost its contracts.  

“Downer is a highly experienced infrastructure company and the decision is reassuring in terms of the quality of maintenance work we can expect on the network,” says E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher.

However, he says the decision will affect about 450 Broadspectrum workers who are now without a job.

“A major contractor has lost its work which will mean major upheaval. People will have to reapply for jobs. We’ll be working with Broadspectrum and Downer to facilitate that process. Downer is a large company so there’s a lot of opportunity,” says Joe.

Meanwhile, he says the union is very disappointed that Chorus contractor, Visionstream has had its network maintenance contracts reconfirmed in Auckland and Northland.

“This is extremely disappointing given the findings of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment investigation around Visionstream’s employment practices,” says Joe.

“This can only be seen as Chorus’s way of telling the Government to mind its own business.

“These networks are critical infrastructure and in our biggest city, its care remains with a company that has been shown to support a sub-contracting model which has led to exploitation and breaches of basic labour standards.

“We will continue to monitor Visionstream’s compliance with employment standards and support any workers who need our assistance in Auckland and Northland,” he says.

ENDS

For more information, contact;

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015  

E tū condemns arrest of journalists in Fiji

E tū welcomes the release of three Newsroom journalists who were arrested in Fiji but says they should never have been detained in the first place.

Newsroom co-editor Mark Jennings, Investigations editor Melanie Reid, and cameraman Hayden Aull were detained and held overnight at the main Suva police station after developer Freesoul Real Estate accused them of criminal trespass.

The journalists were released this morning and the Fijian PM, Frank Bainimarama has apologised.

E tū’s Senior National Industrial Officer, Paul Tolich says the union welcomes the release of the journalists but says they should never have been arrested in the first place.

“The journalists were simply engaged in journalistic inquiries about the impact of development on Malolo Island and the actions of the police are another example of Fiji’s intolerance towards a free and independent press,” says Paul.

“Despite the apology from Fiji’s Prime Minister, this will have a chilling effect on journalism in the Pacific,” he says.  

“Journalists need to be able to challenge the powerful and hold them to account. This is the hallmark of a free and democratic society.

“We urge the Fijian government to support independent journalism rather than maintaining a climate which supports those who would seek to suppress it.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Paul Tolich E tū Industrial Officer ph. 027 593 5595

Fuji Xerox members strike a fourth time

Members at Fuji Xerox offices in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin are into their second straight day of strike action today.

It’s their fourth full-day stoppage as they fight for backpay on Fuji Xerox’s 2% pay offer.

“If they don’t get the back pay, it means these workers will have had a wage freeze for a year, so they’re committed to this fight,” says Joe Gallagher, E tū Industry Coordinator.

The members will be picketing in Auckland outside Fuji Xerox’s office on Carlton Gore Road until 2pm.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph.027 591 0015

Strike three for Fuji Xerox members

Workers at Fuji Xerox have walked off the job for a third time this morning in an escalating dispute over the company’s absolute refusal to pay backpay on a 2% pay offer.

In Auckland, the members went out on strike at 8.30am and will be out until 4.30pm today.

In Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, members are striking from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

“If they don’t get the back pay, it means these workers will have had a wage freeze for a year,” says Joe Gallagher, E tū Industry Coordinator.

“At the same time, they are being asked to work smarter, harder and longer for no reward,” he says.

Joe says the members have responded by voting overwhelmingly for this latest action.

“The cost of the backpay is less than $100,000 and our members are committed to a fair outcome for all of them. They are determined to get what they believe they deserve, and what they are worth,” says Joe.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015

Second strike tomorrow at Fuji Xerox

E tū members at Fuji Xerox have voted to strike for a second day following a successful day of action today.

The 50 members in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin will walk off the job again tomorrow from 7.30am to 4.30pm.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says the members have chosen this afternoon to escalate the strike.

The members are in dispute with Fuji Xerox in the wake of a 2% pay offer, which the company refuses to back-date to the expiry of their collective agreement in August last year.

The members also want recognition of their skills in line with recent assessments they’ve had, “but that’s been held back,” says Joe.

“The company has confirmed its parsimonious offer to our members in its own statement in response to today’s strike,” he says.

“It has also confirmed it won’t backdate any offer which would mean a year with no pay rise at all,  which is unacceptable.”

Joe says the union also refutes claims made by Fuji Xerox in respect to any pass-on to non-union members of any final pay deal negotiated by its members.

“The company is under the impression it can do as it pleases but it clearly doesn’t know the law on the matter. It doesn’t have carte blanche to just pass on to non-union workers what our members win for themselves,” says Joe.

“We’re deeply concerned with the company’s lack of understanding around the laws related to no pass-on. We need Fuji Xerox to acknowledge that they have to commit to a process for negotiating with non-union members.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator, ph. 027 591 0015

Strike at Fuji Xerox

E tū members at Fuji Xerox offices around the country will take strike action today (Monday, 25 February) in support of a decent pay offer.

The strike will affect the company’s four sites in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin with members walking off the job from 8.30am until 4.30pm.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says the members voted overwhelmingly to strike at meetings last week, after the company’s failure to resolve pay issues, including discriminatory treatment against union members.

“Our members are very angry,” says Joe.

“First, the company actually lifted wages to stop people being poached by its competitors. But while one group of union members got the increase, another group in Auckland got nothing. To add fuel to the fire, while the union negotiated the pay rise, non-union members also received it.”

Joe says talks since August last year have failed to resolve matters.

“Our people who missed out want that money and they’re determined to fight to get it,” he says.

Joe says members are also unhappy about the company’s 2% pay offer, with no backpay, despite their collective agreement expiring in July last year.

“This is a multi-national company that has been mismanaged over the past few years and there have been job losses affecting our members,” says Joe.

“Those who remain are working harder, smarter and longer and they want fair recompense.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator, ph. 027 591 0015

Workers will be picketing Monday 25 February at the Auckland premises of Fuji Xerox.

Where: 79 Carlton Gore Road, Newmarket

When: 10am-midday

Asia Pacific deadliest region for journalists

E tū, the union for journalists says it’s disturbing that the Asia Pacific region has once again been named as the deadliest region for journalists.

The 2018 annual Killed List, released by the International Federation of Journalists and now in its 29th year, records the deaths of 95 journalists and media workers.

A third of deaths were in the Asia Pacific region, where 32 journalists & media workers were killed – 34% of the global total.

It is the second year in a row the region has been named the most dangerous for journalists.

“As the report states, the pursuit of the truth makes journalists unpopular everywhere. In many regions, it’s deadly,” says Paul Tolich, E tū Senior National Industrial Officer.

Paul notes the high death toll in the Philippines, where three journalists died last year – 12 have been killed there since 2016.

The report notes the forces behind the figures, including increasingly polarised views globally, “the rise of dangerous nationalist and populist forces in many countries and the stigmatization of journalists and media by politicians and the enemies of media freedom.”  

“While journalists in this country work in a benign environment, this report is a stark reminder this is not the case for their counterparts in many parts of the world,” says Paul.

“The report is also a testament to the bravery of the many working journalists prepared to risk their lives to shine a light in dark places – despite the risks.”

ENDS

For comment, please contact:

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

The report is available via this link:

https://www.ifj.org/fileadmin/user_upload/IFJ_2018_Killed_Report_FINAL_pages.pdf