Category: Politics

Fair Pay Agreement for cleaners approved!

Cleaners across Aotearoa New Zealand are getting a huge opportunity for real improvements to their pay and conditions, with the Chief Executive of MBIE approving the initiation of a Fair Pay Agreement for cleaners.

The news couldn’t have come any sooner. E tū and large cleaning companies involved in a multi-employer collective agreement for commercial cleaners are in negotiations today with much at stake for these low paid workers.

Historic underpayment of cleaners has meant cleaning companies compete for contracts, which drives down pay and conditions – the exact problem the Fair Pay Agreements Act 2022 was passed to address.

E tū member and cleaner, Mele Peaua, who is part of the union’s commercial cleaners negotiating team, says years of inadequate results from bargaining are a clear demonstration of the need for a good Fair Pay Agreement to cover cleaners.

“A Fair Pay Agreement will be ground-breaking for low wage cleaners like us. It will give collective bargaining power to many cleaners who currently have no access to it,” Mele says.

“Normal collective bargaining just isn’t working for cleaners. We have a wonderful opportunity right now to win a good Fair Pay Agreement and reduce inequality and poverty in our communities.”

E tū Transformational Campaigns Director Sarah Thompson agrees.

“The contracting model creates a ‘race to the bottom’ where labour costs are the significant factor in competitive tendering,” Sarah says.

“Having our multi-employer collective agreement has meant negotiating some marginal improvements for cleaners over the years, but it doesn’t stop non-union employers from undercutting companies who might otherwise be open to paying reasonable wages.

“It’s a particular problem in the cleaning industry, and also in security, where E tū has also been approved to negotiate a Fair Pay Agreement.”

Sarah says that all workers should see the value of Fair Pay Agreements and vote for political parties who support them.

“There is currently a huge political focus on the cost of living. Just as we are finally starting to fix these systemic issues through Fair Pay Agreements, the Opposition has promised to tear them up. That’s just appalling, and we need to make sure as a country that we don’t let that happen.”

Union and security industry body celebrate green light for Fair Pay Agreement bargaining

E tū and the New Zealand Security Association are excited to learn that the bargaining process for a Fair Pay Agreement (FPA) for security workers can now begin, now workers’ initiation signatures have been approved by the Government.

E tū is the union for security guards and initiated for an FPA for this group of workers in March, with more than 1,000 signing on to start the initiation process for an agreement.

Union members have led the way in advocating for FPA legislation in a multi-year campaign to see workers such as security guards and cleaners protected by minimum standards around pay and working conditions.

E tū delegate and security guard Rosey Ngakopu says it’s been a long journey, but she can’t wait for the next stage to begin.

“Our dream of an FPA will now become a reality,” she says.

“We want to reset the security industry, so let’s get into the conversation to create and build a better security industry for the future.”

Gary Morrison, CEO of the New Zealand Security Association, says the association and the union have common goals regarding advancing the interest of employees in the industry, and it looks forward to being the Employer Association representing security employers.

“We will work collaboratively to ensure the best outcomes for the security industry, including our employees, our customers, and security providers.

“In particular, we see opportunities to set standards for training, upskilling, and the health and safety of our workers,” says Gary.

E tū’s Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says E tū is thrilled that bargaining can now begin.

“It’s wonderful that we’re now able to use this exciting new mechanism – Fair Pay Agreements – to bargain across the whole of the security occupational group for better terms and conditions for all workers,” she says.

“We look forward to working alongside NZSA to improve the lives of all security guards in Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as ensuring workers have a strong voice at the bargaining table.”

E tū’s hospitality workers will also benefit from an FPA, which has also been approved for bargaining to start.

Budget 2023: E tū welcomes investment in our futures

E tū welcomes the 2023 Budget, which includes significant improvements for Kiwi families, as well as welcome developments for people working in some E tū industries.

Highlights of the Budget include cheaper childcare, ongoing reduced public transport fares for children and young people, removing prescription costs, more money for new public housing, and a significant investment in repairing and improving infrastructure.

The Budget also includes updated forecasts by Treasury, with the welcome news that we are no longer expecting a recession.

E tū is particularly pleased to see initiatives for workers such as the extension of the Apprenticeship Boost Program, funding to settle the historic underpayment of holiday pay in DHBs, and money allocated for pay increases for primary and community care workers.

E tū Assistant National Secretary, Rachel Mackintosh, says that an early analysis of the Budget shows that the Government have got a lot right.

“We will be carefully analysing Budget 2023 over the coming days to best understand how our members and our communities are affected,” Rachel says.

“However, looking at the headline figures, it’s clear that the Government have taken the challenge of balancing the books against economic headwinds and have still managed to invest significant resources in improving lives for everyday people.”

Rachel says that E tū will be keen to see money allocated to wages in the health workforce go towards pay equity for community care workers.

“Our members in aged care and community support are overdue a pay rise that recognises the value of their important work.

“The Equal Pay Settlement in 2017 saw these workers’ pay go up significantly, but we have reached the end of those pay rises. With the cost-of-living pressures mounting and a growing demand on these services, our frontline care and support workers need much better wages.”

Rachel says the commitment to climate change mitigation is also welcomed, and that the Government must continue the Just Transition approach to ensure workers and their communities do not bear the full brunt of changes.

“Solving climate change is the essential challenge of our times, and our members in affected industries understand this – finding well paid and meaningful work for people in a climate-friendly future has to remain a priority.

“Overall, we applaud the Government for being able to continue investment in our communities while carefully managing macroeconomic settings. We are looking forward to seeing the policies that political parties take to the election in October.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Rachel Mackintosh, 027 543 7943

Cleaners second group of E tū members to initiate Fair Pay Agreement

Cleaners are the latest group of workers from E tū to initiate for their Fair Pay Agreement.

Since the Fair Pay Agreements Bill was passed in October 2022, more than 1000 cleaners across Aotearoa New Zealand have put their signature forward in support of a Fair Pay Agreement.

E tū, the largest private sector union in the country, will send the initiation document on their behalf to the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) on Tuesday.

A Fair Pay Agreement sets minimum pay and conditions for workers across whole industries or occupations by way of bargaining between unions and employer representatives.

So far E tū members in both security and cleaning have initiated for a Fair Pay Agreement.

An E tū leader and cleaner Iunisi Fainga’anuku says the day brings lots of emotion.

“I’m overjoyed and emotional. It’s like a dream come true. Fair Pay Agreements are very important, not just to me but to my whole family, because it means I’ll be able to work fewer hours and get more time to spend with my kids.

“It will also help cleaners to get health and safety training. We work with lots of different chemicals, and we worry that they might be harmful to our health.”

Assistant National Secretary at E tū Annie Newman says a Fair Pay Agreement for workers in the cleaning industry is a huge achievement, as it will help to fix a number of issues.

“Pay is one of the number one issues for cleaners, as many work two or three jobs to get by. The first thing that a Fair Pay Agreement will address is securing base rates of pay for cleaners, no matter which employer they work for.

“This will really help to prevent employers from undercutting each other to win work contracts, which usually sees workers’ wages lowered to make the company more competitive.

“It will also mean workers’ pay rates won’t be affected if they transfer to a new cleaning company when a cleaning contract changes hands.”

Annie says members in cleaning often want more training and development, so they can see a career pathway in the industry with progressive pay rates and opportunities.

“Cleaning is an essential job and cleaners are essential workers. As we have seen through the pandemic, workers everywhere deserve respect, recognition, and dignity, and Fair Pay Agreements are a way of achieving that.”

Excitement as security guards initiate for Fair Pay Agreement

Security guards have made their voices heard and now have enough signatures to initiate a Fair Pay Agreement (FPA) for workers in their occupation.

Since the Fair Pay Agreements Bill was passed in October 2022, more than 1000 security guards across Aotearoa New Zealand have put their signature forward in support of a Fair Pay Agreement.

E tū, the union for security guards, will send the initiation document on their behalf to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) on Wednesday.

A Fair Pay Agreement sets minimum pay and conditions for workers across whole industries or occupations by way of bargaining between unions and employer representatives.

E tū delegate and security guard Rosey Ngakopu, who has been campaigning for Fair Pay Agreements for the past four years, says she’s excited it’s finally time to initiate an agreement.

“It’s an awesome feeling – all our hard work has paid off. Fair Pay Agreements will mean we’ll be able to address industry issues in a collective conversation and find possible solutions.

“FPAs are about raising the standards of our working conditions, lifting our pay, skills and training, and making sure we have everything we need on site to work safely and with dignity.

“I can’t wait to get around the bargaining table and start negotiating.”

Annie Newman, an Assistant National Secretary of E tū, says the initiation is a momentous occasion for security guards – one of the most positive changes for these workers in decades – by giving them a say in the conditions for all security guards across the country.

“Our members tell us that they want improved health and safety, more participation in decision-making, and of course, decent wages,” she says.

“Being able to negotiate on these issues in good faith through Fair Pay Agreements, which our members have fought hard for, will be life-changing for security guards.”

A Fair Pay Agreement will also stop the frequent ‘race to the bottom’, so employers can’t compete by paying the lowest wages to win a work contract, as all workers would be paid the same base starting rates, Annie says.

Security FPA initiation day event

Minister of Workplace Relations, Hon Michael Wood, E tū officials and members will give short speeches outside Parliament on Wednesday morning to mark the occasion.

When: Wednesday 29 March 2023
Where:
Outside New Zealand Parliament House, 1 Museum Street, Wellington
Time:
9.15am (for a 9.30am start) to 9.45am

There will be opportunities for photos with E tū members and the Minister. An E tū official and member will also be available for interview.

ENDS

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

Workers need income insurance now

The biggest private sector union in Aotearoa New Zealand, E tū, is concerned by the Prime Minister’s announcement today that the New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme (NZIIS) will be delayed indefinitely.

The announcement was part of the new Prime Minister’s policy reprioritisation, stating that the policy will not be considered again this term, nor until the economy improves significantly.

E tū Assistant National Secretary, Annie Newman, says the union is disappointed in this development.

“This is not good news for New Zealand’s workers,” Annie says.

“The New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme should be a policy priority as we face a possible recession and other huge changes in the job market.

“The Prime Minister has told Aotearoa that he’s squarely focused on the cost of living for Kiwis. NZIIS should be a key part of that plan, as job losses are often devastating for family budgets.

“Many other countries have highly successful unemployment insurance schemes as part of their welfare systems. New Zealand is behind the 8-ball here.”

However, the union is pleased that the minimum wage will be increased to keep up with inflation.

“Many of our members are on or near the minimum wage, and $1.50 per hour is a significant increase for them. It will take some of the sting out of the rising costs across the economy.

“Increasing the minimum wage by anything less than inflation would have seen minimum wage workers effectively have their pay cut in real terms. While this is an adequate increase, we do know that workers really need the Living Wage if they are to live a decent life.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman – 027 204 63
40

E tū ready to initiate first Fair Pay Agreements

The Fair Pay Agreements Bill is finally about to become law, as it gets its Third Reading in Parliament later this afternoon.

Fair Pay Agreements will set minimum standards for pay and conditions across entire industries, making it one of the most transformative changes for workers in Aotearoa New Zealand in decades.

E tū members and supporters made over 1,000 unique submissions on the bill, and the final text reflects what is needed for a great new system.

The private sector union has been campaigning for Fair Pay Agreements since 2017 and is prioritising the security and cleaning industries to be first in line for a Fair Pay Agreement.

Rosey Ngakopu, a Wellington-based security guard and E tū member leader, couldn’t be happier with the development.

“I’m super excited,” Rosey says. “It’s been a long journey. Now it’s about getting cleaners and security guards to sign on and sign up. Then we can really win the pay and conditions we know we deserve. Yippee!

“My message to all security guards and cleaners in Aotearoa is don’t wait – sign up for our Fair Pay Agreements today.”

E tū Team Leader, Sarah Thompson, says the union is excited about this opportunity.

“Workers across Aotearoa New Zealand are taking this opportunity to create better lives for ourselves, our families, our communities, and future generations,” she says.

“Winning a Fair Pay Agreement will mean better pay and standard conditions for everyone in our industries.

“At a time with huge cost of living pressures, this will be huge for some of the most vulnerable workers in Aotearoa, especially the essential workers who kept us going during the pandemic.”

Security guards and cleaners can now sign up to initiate their Fair Pay Agreements at www.etu.nz/signfpa

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Sarah Thompson, 027 591 0024

Rosey and Sarah will both be available for media around Parliament at the time of the Third Reading.

Uber drivers win employment rights in historic court case

New Zealand Uber drivers have won employment rights, with an historic ruling against the multi-billion dollar global giant arriving the morning after Labour Day.

Following similar examples in the UK and France, New Zealand’s Employment Court today found that four current and former Uber drivers were employees, not independent contractors, in a case jointly taken by and E tū and FIRST Union.

The judgment , which sought a declaration of employment status for the four drivers, found that “Each of the plaintiff drivers was in an employment relationship when carrying out driving work for Uber and is entitled to a declaration of status accordingly”, noting that while such a declaration attaches only to the individual applicants of the case, “… it may well have broader impact, particularly where, as here, there is apparent uniformity in the way in which the companies operate, and the framework under which drivers are engaged.”

“This is a landmark legal decision not just for Aotearoa but also internationally – what a way to finish Labour weekend!” said Anita Rosentreter, FIRST Union strategic project coordinator.

“Uber has bullied its way into cities all over the world with a deliberate strategy of breaking the law and exploiting drivers – that ends here in Aotearoa today.”

The case was filed in July 2021 and heard in the Employment Court in Wellington by Chief Judge Christina Inglis in 2022.

The unions representing the drivers sought a declaration that they were employees and therefore entitled to the rights and protections under New Zealand employment law, including the minimum wage, guaranteed hours, holiday pay, sick leave, KiwiSaver contributions, the right to challenge an unfair dismissal, and the right to unionise and collectively bargain.

The four driver witnesses in the case were Julian Ang, Mea’ole Keil, Nureddin Abdurahman, and Praful “Bill” Rama. Mr Rama said, “Finally, there is justice for Uber drivers. This will mean drivers will have a say, not just be subject to the control of Uber.”

“We are employees. It’s not a question of what we signed or what Uber says we are. The Court has looked at the reality of our relationship with Uber and said that drivers are employees.”

Ms Rosentreter said that in light of the verdict, FIRST Union was now accepting Uber drivers as members and would immediately move to initiate collective bargaining with the company.

The union is also acting on behalf of drivers to claim backpay for wages, holiday pay and other entitlements from Uber.

“Anyone who has driven for Uber – even if they no longer do so now – is encouraged to enquire with the union,” said Ms Rosentreter.

There are more than 7,000 Uber drivers in New Zealand, but the misclassification of workers is increasingly common in other industries too, like construction and care work.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh said the decision has wide-reaching implications.

“The stakes here are high – no industry is safe from being absorbed into the gig economy and, without decisions like this one, decent work is out of reach for gig workers who have little or no rights and protections,” said Ms Mackintosh.

“We’re even seeing gig work for the heroes of the Covid pandemic – many home support workers are now only able to pay their bills if someone swipes right.”

The decision comes as the Government is set to announce a crack-down on worker misclassification, out of its Better Protections for Contractors workstream. Ms Rosentreter said, “The Government should carefully consider the application of this case to other instances of worker misclassification as well. Uber has taken this practice to new extremes, but they are by no means the only company engaging in it.”

“Over the past 30 years, we have seen an erosion of fundamental work rights, but we now have an opportunity to make things right. Future generations of workers are counting on us.”

CLICK HERE for a video produced by FIRST Union and E tū,  featuring some of the Uber drivers who took this case as they the implications of the verdict.

ENDS

For more information contact:

Anita Rosentreter, Strategic Project Coordinator, FIRST Union
Email: anita.rosentreter@firstunion.org.nz, Mobile: +64 (0)21 626 094

Rachel Mackintosh, Support Director, E tū
Email:  rachel.mackintosh@etu.nz, Mobile: +64 (0)27 543 7943

Praful ‘Bill’ Rama, Uber driver
Email:  billdograma@gmail.com, Phone: +64 (0)21 882 230

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