Category: General

Our week in action – 16 July 2021

Members win 8% at McKechnie’s Aluminium in Taranaki

After nearly 18 months of bargaining, standing strong to fight off proposed clawbacks of redundancy, sick leave and allowances, McKechnie’s workers have won an 8% increase over 30 months – their best pay rise since 2005!

The proposal was narrowly accepted by members, who remain unified despite having a close vote.  Thirteen new ember-leaders have been confirmed, making our delegate and member-leader team 17 strong.  During the course of negotiations, our membership grew by 15 members, bringing us over 80%. 

E tū and First Union to take Uber to court

We announced that we will go to court seeking employment rights for Uber drivers. We want the court to declare that Uber drivers are employees and deserve the same minimum standards (such as pay and leave) as other workers.

This case follows similar cases in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and parts of the USA, which had ruled in favour of the drivers.

E tū Job Match and Solidarity Membership launched

We have re-launched our Job Match service, to help people find and prepare for new jobs, and our Solidarity Membership, for members and non-members alike to pay from just $2 a week to further support our important work.

Click here to check out E tū Job Match

Click here to check out Solidarity Membership

Komiti Pasifika Auckland Fono

E tū’s Komiti Pasifika held their Northern Regional Fono today, to celebrate the successes of the Komiti and plan for the future. Today members met with EEO Human Rights Commissioner Dr Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo about becoming an active force in the Commission’s Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry.

Profile: Lalopua Sanele QSM

E tū leader, delegate, and cleaner Lalopua Sanele has been awarded a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) in the Queen’s Birthday honours list 2021, for services to the union movement and Samoan community. Here’s a little bit more about Lalopua and her story of service.

Lalopua Sanele came to New Zealand in 1972 and was immediately involved in the Wellington Samoan Community based around her church – St Anne’s Catholic Church in Newtown.

From 1972 until 2010 she was an active member of the St Anne’s Church Choir and she joined the Samoan Mother’s Group in 1974, where she played a leadership role and was elected as their treasurer. She was later elected as the treasurer for the Church Samoan Community, a role she held until 2000.

In 2010 she moved with the Samoan Catholic Community to St Josephs Parish in Mount Victoria, where is still an active member of Iesu le Tupu choir.

Lalopua has been employed as a cleaner at Wellington Hospital since 1987. The majority of Wellington Hospital cleaners have, for the past 40 years, been mainly from Samoa or other Pacific nations.

Due to Lalopua’s ability to organise and advocate she was elected as a workplace union delegate.

Her involvement in the union lead her to become a leader in the Wellington Hotel and Hospital Workers Union (later becoming the Service and Food Workers Union and then E tū) Komiti Pasifika. She was elected on to the union’s regional executive and later the National Executive.

Lalopua represented her union at biennial NZ Council of Trade Union Komiti Pasifika Fono and also at the South Pacific and Oceania Council of Trade Unions Conference.

Lalopua is very active in advocating for the improvement of employment rights for workers, especially for vulnerable workers, such as cleaners. She was prominent in the campaign 1999-2004 to gain an amendment to the Employment Relations Act (Part 6A) in 2004 to protect the jobs and working conditions of cleaners during tendering processes. She was able to articulate the issues for cleaners from her own experience at Wellington Hospital in going through the process of contract change and the insecurity and stress that this caused the cleaners and their families.

She appears regularly before Parliamentary Select Committees on behalf of the union supporting improvements in statutory annual leave, rest breaks and improved rights for elected workplace representatives.

Lalopua is now a cleaning supervisor at Wellington Hospital and has completed 34 years service, including working through the recent Level 4 lockdown overseeing the infection control measures put in place for hospital cleaning.

Budget 2021: Social insurance “long overdue”

E tū is celebrating the release of Budget 2021 today, which makes significant moves improve the lives of Aotearoa’s workers and their communities.

In particular, E tū applauds the plan for an ACC-style ‘social insurance’ scheme, which would give workers income protection if they lose their jobs.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says it’s great that the Government are prioritising the idea, which was in the Labour Party’s 2020 election manifesto.

“COVID-19 reminded us again how important it is to support people as they move in and out of work,” Annie says.

“Losing an income, even for a short while, can have extremely negative effects on workers and their families. Social insurance schemes have been proven to work well to mitigate this in many other counties, and its high time that Aotearoa New Zealand caught up.

“We fully support the idea and urge the Government to move quickly on this, as it is long overdue.”

E tū home support members will be celebrating increases for in-between travel.

“Finally, there is funding for home support workers to be paid properly when they are travelling between clients. Until 2015, workers weren’t paid at all for this travel. E tū members won the minimum wage for that time spent in the car, and Budget 2021 will see them getting their proper wage for that part of their work.

“There’s also funding for home support workers to have proper paid breaks – which is also long overdue.

“MSD security guards can also celebrate, with the Government’s commitment to paying them the Living Wage now cemented in the Budget.”

The Budget contains more pro-worker initiatives, such as restoring the Training Incentive Allowance, new funding for vocational education growth, and a further commitment to a Just Transition.

“Increased capital funding for Green Investment Finance will support growth in new, clean industries to replace those in fossil fuel sectors – but workers will need an assurance that this investment will lead to good, secure jobs.”

Annie says there is a lot more to celebrate in this Budget.

“We are very happy that the Government is finally making substantial moves on raising benefits – this will help people who lose their jobs from now, before the social insurance scheme is implemented. It will mean that if people are out of work long term, for whatever reason, they can live happier and healthier lives.

“We also commend initiatives supporting tangata whenua, new investment in education, and a lot more.

“Finance Minister Grant Robertson has described the three Budgets this term as a ‘package’ – we are looking forward to the next instalments for workers and our communities.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

E tū welcomes next steps for Fair Pay Agreements

E tū members are pleased to learn today about the next steps in the Government’s plan to implement Fair Pay Agreement legislation in this term of Government.

The Government has announced more details about what Fair Pay Agreements will look like, and their proposal is in line with recommendations made by the Fair Pay Agreement Working Group, which E tū supports.

E tū member and Auckland Council cleaner Josephine Wiredu, who is employed by a contractor, supports Fair Pay Agreements to secure decent pay across the cleaning industry.

“My colleagues and I have just won the Living Wage at our workplace. This is wonderful, after so long struggling to support my family on the minimum wage,” Josephine says.

“But we now need to get the Living Wage for the whole cleaning industry. A Fair Pay Agreement will mean cleaners will have certainty that we will get decent pay wherever we work.”

Fair Pay Agreements about more than just wages. They will also make it possible to set better conditions and protections, such as improved health and safety standards. Security guard Rosey Ngakopu says that’s desperately needed in her industry.

“Health and safety is the biggest issue at the majority of sites I have worked on,” Rosey says.

“We need regular welfare checks, decent facilities, and a lot more to keep us safe at work. Security guards are often overworked because it’s hard to fill positions on sites where guards don’t feel safe.”

“A Fair Pay Agreement will secure us better health and safety, as well as improving pay, training, and other conditions that guards need.”

The announcement today was made with the support of Geneva Healthcare, where Ana Palei works as a home support worker. She says a Fair Pay Agreement would address many of the main problems for workers in her industry.

“Work has become unbearable sometimes because of the lack of training and support for new people coming in, unrealistic expectations, unreasonable rosters, and demands which do not cater for any person’s health and wellbeing – especially for the vulnerable clients,” Ana says.

“When we won Equal Pay, our wages increased, which was great, but our hours reduced. Some home support workers feel we are now worse off. My hours have been reduced a lot.

“A Fair Pay Agreement means protecting us and our rights as human beings. It will promote equality in the workforce. It will prioritise health and safety and the wellbeing of each person, so that we can return home to our loved ones happy and not too stressed out.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says today’s announcement shows that the Government is on the right track with Fair Pay Agreements.

“This will be the best change at workplaces in decades,” Annie says.

“Setting fair wages and conditions across the board will stop the race to the bottom, which sees employers competing for contracts by paying poverty wages.

“Workers deserve better pay, better job security, better health and safety, and better work. Fair Pay Agreements will become an important part of the picture.

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

Annie and Ana are available for media interviews in Auckland at the announcement venue.

One step closer to Matariki holiday

Workers across the country are celebrating today as the Labour Government take a further step towards their pre-election commitment to make Matariki a public holiday.

The Government have announced that the first Matariki public holiday will be on 24 June 2022 and the date will change every year, similar to Easter.

E tū Co-President Muriel Tunoho says a mid-winter public holiday is long overdue.

“After Queen’s Birthday, Kiwi workers don’t get a public holiday until Labour Day in October. Matariki will give people a much-needed ray of sunshine in the middle of winter,” Muriel says.

“We are very happy that this will be a new public holiday. Matariki is unique and indigenous to Aotearoa and it is a very positive way our nation can all embrace it together.”

Muriel says that while the Government are making good progress on some workplace relations issues, other urgent issues remain.

“While an extra public holiday is fantastic news, E tū continues to campaign for many other changes that will fundamentally improve workplace relations in Aotearoa, such as the implementation of Fair Pay Agreements, paying the Living Wage to all workers in the public service, and strengthening industrial democracy.”

E tū condemns arrests of Hong Kong democracy activists

E tū has joined New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister, global unions and others in condemning the arrest this week of over 50 prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists.

Among those arrested was aviation worker Carol Ng, the chair of the Hong Kong Council of Trade Unions and former general secretary of the British Airways Hong Kong International Cabin Crew Association. Carol was released last night but the arrests are part of an ongoing and escalating intimidation of the democracy movement in Hong Kong.

E tū spokesperson Sam Huggard says the union extends its solidarity to Carol and other trade union and democracy activists.

“An attack on democracy is an attack on ordinary working people and communities and cannot be tolerated. We join with others in condemning this move and call on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to stop this intimidation immediately,” Sam says.

The detentions were made by local police, under the controversial National Security Law, for trying to “overthrow” the government by holding primary elections for pro-democracy candidates in last year’s postponed elections.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Sam Huggard, 021 462 148

COVID-19: 13 August update

Dear E tū members,
 
As we find ourselves facing a new lockdown period, we wish to reassure you that E tū remains fully able and ready to advise and support our members throughout this time.
 
E tū Auckland area members are advised to work from home where possible from 12pm on Wednesday 12 August for a minimum of three days. Essential services and businesses that are able to operate safely will continue as per the Government’s COVID-19 guidelines.

All others on Level 2 must take COVID-19 health protection measures very seriously over that period.
 
Please keep an eye on www.covid19.govt.nz for the latest info.
 
Our staff in Auckland must operate from home, but we are equipped to do that. We are also aware that the Alert Level periods may be extended.
 
We know that many of our members are essential workers or may be working over this period, and we thank you for the wonderful services you  provide to your whanau and communities all the time, including during our last lockdown.

We were here for our members through the last lockdown. We had your back. We remain here for you.
 
In this lockdown period, please remember:

  • You are entitled to your full ordinary pay when required to be at home, unless your employment agreement says otherwise.  Contact your delegate or an organiser at 0800 186 466 if you’re unsure.
  • Members are strongly advised not to agree to be paid less or to use leave entitlements in place of ordinary pay.
  • Employers of members continuing to work must have clear COVID-19 safety protocols in the workplace and provide adequate PPE to protect your health and safety in as far as is practical.
  • Members, who are vulnerable due to health concerns or immune compromised, are advised to take extra precautions if continuing to work. Discuss any concerns with your GP.

If you are in doubt then talk with your delegate, health and safety reps, employer, or contact E tū on 0800 1 UNION or support@etu.nz. Please understand that given the circumstances, this may mean longer waiting times than usual.

Now is a good time to remember that E tū has core principles for how we handle COVID-19, which are the building blocks of our Rebuild Better campaign:

  • Prioritise community health and wellbeing
  • Workers’ wages leading the recovery
  • Keep and create decent jobs
  • Union members involved in all decisions
  • End inequality

For more details on this, check out: www.rebuildbetter.nz

We’ll keep our website up to date with all the latest info as well: www.etu.nz 
Above all, take care, be kind, and take COVID-19 precautions.

Thank you,
Bill Newson
E tū National Secretary

Union stands in solidarity with members over death at worksite

E tū offers sincere condolences in the wake of the tragic death of a member from Auckland’s Alto Packaging.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says the union stands in solidarity with his family and fellow union members who have lost one of their own.

“Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones, as well as his colleagues and the wider community, who have been deeply affected by his sudden death,” Rachel says.

“We believe that everyone should have the right to return safely from work each day and will do all we can to support both his family and our members in the coming days.”

ENDS

For more info and comment:
Rachel Mackintosh 027 543 7943
Rachel will be available to take media calls after 8pm tonight