Category: Communications

TVNZ’s consultation process legally challenged by E tū

E tū has filed a claim with the Employment Relations Authority against TVNZ, as the company did not follow their consultation requirements that are guaranteed for workers in their collective agreement.

The filing comes as TVNZ makes formal announcements about the fate of major parts of their news and current affairs offering, including Fair Go, Sunday, Re: News, and the Midday and Tonight bulletins.

E tū Negotiation Specialist, Michael Wood, says it’s vital TVNZ follow the correct processes through such significant changes.

“It’s crystal clear in the TVNZ collective agreement that workers must be involved in developing proposals like this, not just asked for their views at the end of the process,” Michael says.

“The requirement is that union members must be involved in the developmental stages of decision-making processes and in the business planning of the organisation. The fact is, members simply weren’t given the opportunity to engage with the design of TVNZ’s plan until the proposal was presented.

“It is vital that workers are involved all the way through – not just because it’s their right, but because they have valuable insights that would have helped TVNZ to develop a better proposal.”

Michael says the short consultation process has already shown the value of member participation.

“Even just within the flawed process we’ve seen to date, workers have convinced TVNZ to introduce a new team for long-form consumer and current affairs reporting. That’s a win and reinforces that a proper process could have led to much better outcomes.

“There has been a massive outpouring of support for TVNZ’s workers and the vital content they create. The community supports robust news and current affairs to tell Aotearoa’s stories and hold power to account. This is all the more important given we’ve also learned today the plan to take Newshub off air is going ahead.

“We reiterate our call for TVNZ to go back to the drawing board and work properly with their staff to shape a way forward which properly values their massive contribution to our media landscape.”

The contracting model is wrong for NZ Post

E tū is disappointed with NZ Post’s decision to move mail delivery into the parcel network, which will mean workers are moved to a contracting model.

NZ Post announced the details of the plan today, which is a response to declining mail volumes.

Postal worker and E tū delegate in Dunedin, Terry Howells, says workers are upset by the changes.

“I think it’s the end of an era for post itself, and people are quite downtrodden about it,” Terry says.

“A lot of posties took this job because it’s a good lifestyle, and this will be a major disruption to that. I can’t see it working in the long run.

“Being directly employed comes with all the employee benefits we’ve built up over time. I don’t think contractors are treated well here at all, the contracts are tough. Going into that side would be horrible, really. We can see it leading to exploitation, particularly for migrants.”

Terry says that affected workers are still looking for answers.

“It’s difficult to know what the next steps will be, we need more concrete information. The company needs to be a bit more upfront on what direction they’re going in. That’s a crucial part of the transition ahead.”

E tū Negotiation Specialist, Joe Gallagher, says NZ Post contracting out mail delivery will make them disconnected from the community.

“Having directly employed posties not only gives workers better protections, it also means NZ Post has a real stake in all parts of the delivery of the services,” Joe says.

“Passing the buck to a network of contractors means we’ll see a ‘race to the bottom’ with perverse incentives to make the most money, not deliver the best service. We see examples of this across many different industries.

“Mail delivery volume might be declining, but a robust network remains a core part of our society’s infrastructure.”

Joe says that while the union continues to oppose these changes, E tū and NZ Post are both committed to a ‘just transition’ for affected workers.

“The good news is that due to a long history of strong union membership, NZ Post workers are in a better position to shape their own future and all parties can work together to minimise the harm to affected workers.

“When people lose their jobs, or their jobs become more precarious, it affects the whole community. We’ve been proud of the work we have done in the past to ensure workers who are affected by changes in the post system are on the best footing possible, for example by helping them into new work through the E tū Job Match programme.”

E tū TVNZ members launch Save Our Stories campaign

E tū, the union for journalists and media workers in Aotearoa, is today launching a campaign to stop the proposed changes at TVNZ.

The Save Our Stories campaign is a response to last week’s announcement of a proposal for significant cuts across the workforce and the programmes produced, including cutting the shows Fair Go and Sunday, gutting Re: News, and cutting the Midday and Tonight bulletins.

E tū Negotiation Specialist, Michael Wood, says the Save Our Stories campaign is about everyone coming together to protect the media platform.

“We’re bringing together workers, viewers, and supporters to remind TVNZ of their purpose and responsibilities. TVNZ isn’t just some business, it’s a vital part of our society and Kiwis need a strong TVNZ to tell Aotearoa’s stories and hold power to account.

“This is about everyone – every single New Zealander is a stakeholder in this, so we invite everybody who wants to build and protect a strong media landscape to support the campaign.”

The campaign has been launched with a video featuring people from across TVNZ’s workforce, and an open letter.

“So many people have reached out to our union to show their support for TVNZ workers and ask how they can help. From prominent public figures, to people whose lives have been changed thanks to TVNZ’s coverage, to dedicated viewers who don’t want to see their favourite shows get the axe.

“These people can help by signing the open letter, sharing our video, and sending the message to decision-makers that our media is worth protecting.”

TVNZ workers concerned with company’s process and will fight proposed cuts

E tū, the union for media workers in Aotearoa New Zealand, are alarmed by TVNZ’s proposal to cut up to 68 jobs, and are worried there won’t an adequate process for working through this proposal.

TVNZ has told their employees that people will find out if they are affected today, with more specific details to come tomorrow. It is expected that Fair Go, Sunday, Tonight, and Re: are all at risk.

One E tū member at TVNZ says that workers are particularly feeling the pressure around not yet knowing their fate.

“It’s the uncertainty right now around what is proposed that’s the hardest for us,” they say.

“Programmes like Fair Go, Sunday, Tonight, and Re: are well-respected, and continue to be a crucial part of keeping people informed about critical issues that affect their real lives. We are hoping for the best, for the people who watch and the people who make the shows.”

E tū Negotiation Specialist, Michael Wood, says E tū will be challenging the cuts both in the interest of affected members and the wider public who rely on a well-functioning media.

“TVNZ has a responsibility, not just to the Government as sole shareholder but to all New Zealanders, to lead a positive vision for the future of media,” Michael says.

“Our members are deeply concerned that there is no clear strategy developed to protect the TV functions at the heart of the whole TVNZ enterprise.

“As we’ve all recently heard about the decision to close Newshub, it is more important than ever to protect and enhance our local media. TVNZ’s proposal is to do the opposite. Our members are passionate about their work and know the importance of a strong Fourth Estate.”

The company has indicated to the union that they will only open consultation for a very short period of time. Michael says that the consultation process must be genuine.

“Giving workers just a few working days to understand and give feedback on this proposal would be simply ridiculous.

“The workforce at TVNZ are the people best placed to work with the company to solve the problems and find a way forward that protects the vital role they play in our media landscape. In the past, E tū has worked with the company through change processes to successfully protect jobs, maintaining a strong platform for telling Aotearoa’s stories.

“We need to do this again, and it starts with the company engaging, and not dictating. They cannot make the best-informed decisions without a genuine and thorough consultation.

“Every New Zealander has a stake in this decision, as it will have a huge impact on the quality of public media. TVNZ and the Government, as the sole shareholder, must take a wider view that reflects the importance of this platform for everyone.”


E tū urges Government to support NZ media by passing Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill

E tū, the union for journalists and media workers, is urging the Government to pass the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill as an important part of the solution to the problems facing the media in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Last week, it was announced that Newshub and Three will close in June. Recent redundancies affecting Stuff’s sports reporters, and uncertainty about job security across the wider media landscape, demonstrate the revenue constraints that will continue to harm the industry.

E tū senior delegate at Stuff, Tom Hunt, says the Government passing the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill would be a good balance of supporting the industry while maintaining media independence.

“Government help for the media can and has been appreciated, but it can also be a poisoned chalice. It has given people a weapon to attack us with, and that is understandable, even if the so-called media bias is a fiction,” Tom says.

“But the Government helping to create a level playing field against billionaire-owned tech giants is not a bailout. It is rational, and I can see no reason to stop it unless the Government is afraid of scrutiny.”

E tū National Secretary, Rachel Mackintosh, says the matter is urgent.

“Things will just keep getting worse if we don’t find sustainable approaches to the way the digital age has completely changed how people publish and access news,” Rachel says.

“The Government has one simple action it can immediately take to improve confidence in the news industry in the short term and significantly improve its financial viability in the medium term. That is, it must listen to the calls of basically everyone in the industry and support the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill.

“This is even more important now, given the way the tech giants have responded to similar moves overseas. They cannot be allowed to bully governments into getting their way – we must stand up for fairness as an international community.”

Rachel is concerned the Government doesn’t appear to understand the importance of a well-functioning media landscape.

“The Government can’t just sit on their hands and allow the Fourth Estate to crumble on their watch, they need to step up now.

“Broadcasting Minister Melissa Lee should be a champion of new ways of raising revenue for the industry, but instead she has been slowing the progress of this bill, now using the development of AI as an excuse for inaction.

“Our country deserves much more serious leadership on this matter.”


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.


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.