Category: Public and Commercial Services

VTNZ workers to strike over low pay

VTNZ driving test and vehicle testing officials will take strike action for 24 hours on Monday 5 August, in protest over their poor pay.

The strike takes effect just after midnight (12.01am) tonight nationwide.  

E tū advocate, Sunny Sehgal says E tū’s VTNZ driver testing members are qualified professionals who do a dangerous job, but that’s not reflected in their wages.

“The pay is between $21.00 and $22.50 an hour, which may look good to some people, but it’s a skilful job. And it’s hazardous. They are in a car with people who may not be competent to drive,” he says.

Since 2014, VTNZ has been run by German company Dekra, which members say has consistently resisted improving their pay scales.   

E tū member, Harun Ali says he’s a trained and qualified professional who has to manage multiple risks on the job “but the pay doesn’t recognise that.

 “I have a passion for this job. It’s something I love to do, but it’s risky,” says Harun, who has 14 years of experience as a driver testing official.  

“Drivers are often poorly prepared. There are a lot of accidents and a lot of us are being hurt. We face people who come out of jail, who are very threatening.

“We’ve been chased around the cars, bullied and threatened. A lot of times we end up calling the cops.”

Sunny says VTNZ mechanics are also qualified tradesmen whose pay rates are well below the industry standard.

Mediation has failed to resolve the dispute, leaving members little choice but to walk off the job, he said.

“Members are only asking for a fair increase to their wages to properly value their work and to cover the growing costs of housing, fuel and food.”

ENDS

The members will be picketing on Monday morning.

Where: Sylvia Park VTNZ site, 5 Sylvia Park Road, Mount Wellington, Auckland

When: from 8am-midday.

For further information, contact:

Sunny Sehgal E tū organiser ph. 027 590 0075

We can provide contact details for Harun for interested media.

Another serious assault at Waikato DHB

A female security guard is off work and recovering after an assault at Waikato Hospital which has left her with a suspected broken nose.

The assault happened on Tuesday, when the guard was called to help with a highly agitated patient who was trying to leave the hospital.  The patient lashed out, giving our member a closed-fist punch to the nose.

It follows the assault on another female guard last month, which has left her with multiple facial fractures and off work for at least three months.

Allied Security is the security contractor for the Waikato District Health Board, and also the Canterbury DHB, where there have been four serious assaults on guards since Christmas.

E tū organiser, Iriaka Rauhihi says the union is appalled by the second serious assault in just over a month at the hospital.

“What are they waiting for – a fatality?

“Assaults are frequent at this DHB and we’re well aware of Allied Security’s record in Christchurch as well. Our members feel unsafe and I’m not the only one worried that someone will die if things don’t improve – our members are saying the same thing,” she says.

E tū Campaign Lead, Mat Danaher says the string of assaults has raised serious alarm bells.

“We are now looking at a record of failure to stem the on-going violence on hospital wards in Waikato and Christchurch,” says Mat.

He says DHBs are due to meet shortly with E tū to review hospital security – a move that’s long over-due.

“Violence on our hospital wards is a serious issue, affecting all staff. The nurses complain wards are unsafe and both they and our security members are frequently in the firing line.

“There are systemic failures including under-staffing, lack of training and poor health and safety processes. We are looking forward to the upcoming security review and welcome the fact that DHBs nationally are taking this issue seriously.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Iriaka Rauhihi E tū Senior Organiser ph. 27 544 8697 – Iriaka can speak for local Waikato members. 

Mat Danaher E tū Campaign Lead ph. 021 336 519 – Mat will be speaking on the situation nationally.   

Fourth assault on hospital security guard

E tū says a fourth assault on a hospital security guard has raised the alarm over health and safety for security guards at the Waikato and Canterbury DHBs.

Both contract out security services to a private company, Allied Security.

The latest assault – the fourth serious assault this year – involved a security guard attacked in the Emergency Department at Christchurch Hospital on Queen’s Birthday.

The assault occurred just weeks after an earlier very serious attack on a security guard member at Waikato Hospital – where Allied is also the security provider.

Another two guards remain off work after serious assaults at Hillmorton and Christchurch Hospitals.

Christchurch Senior organiser Ian Hodgetts says the string of assaults since Christmas is alarming.

“We are absolutely concerned about such a series of vicious unprovoked attacks on our members, who are simply doing their job,” he says.

Noting the epidemic of violence faced by hospital staff nationwide, he said hospitals needed more security and better security training.

DHBs also needed to improve their staffing and health and safety processes, he said.

E tū Campaign Lead, Mat Danaher says the series of assaults on guards at DHBs has highlighted serious issues with the outsourcing of security services.

“The fact is Allied Security is the security provider at both Waikato and Canterbury DHBs, and I would hope these DHBs, and DHBs nationally, are taking a serious look at who provides their security, and whether the services are fit for purpose,” says Ma

“In the case of Allied, we don’t believe that’s the case and we’ve lost any confidence they’re up to the job.”

Mat says many DHBs employ their security guards in-house – which the union supports.

“Directly employed security seems to be the model to look at for DHBs. Our hospitals are plagued by violence and all staff are affected, not just our security guard members.

“Hospital security needs a whole team approach, and the best way to do that is to make sure guards are part of the same team as other staff.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Mat Danaher E tū Campaign Lead ph. 021 336 519

Ian Hodgetts E tū Senior Organiser ph. 027 446 4972

Assault exposes serious Health and Safety issues

E tū says its inquiries have revealed glaring deficiencies for security guards, in the health and safety processes of the Waikato District Health Board and its security contractor, Allied Security.

E tū Senior organiser, Iriaka Rauhihi says media bans imposed on the guards by Allied have compounded matters, by denying the guards the right to speak publicly about their fears for their safety.

The union is investigating after the assault three weeks ago on a Waikato Hospital security guard member who faces months of recovery from her injuries.

“Our member’s son, Carl Harney has said the media ban, which applies to his injured mother, is a breach of people’s right to freedom of speech, and we agree,” says Iriaka.

“Given how unsafe this hospital is for our security guard members, it’s important these issues are raised and dealt with, so workers need to be able to speak up,” she says.

“The guards have spoken to Allied about their concerns, but nothing has been done.”

Iriaka says her information is based on interviews with the guards as well as meetings with DHB officials.

“There are robust health and safety processes for directly-employed DHB staff, but for contracted security guards, they appear to be ad hoc at best and non-existent at worst,” she says.

“That means a lack of incident reports and training, and neither the guards nor the DHB could tell me who the Health and Safety reps are,” says Iriaka.

“We would also add concerns about the very long hours the guards are working because they are so understaffed,” she says.  

Iriaka says while Allied has a health and safety policy, there seems to be no structure for dealing with health and safety matters.

“I’ve requested the names of any Health and Safety Reps and the minutes of any H&S Committee meetings, and we’ve received nothing. How do we monitor and assess risks on the job if there are no processes in place?”

Iriaka says the DHB admits it is responsible for the guards’ safety, but she believes it’s shrugged off any role in policing its security contractor, Allied.

She says despite requests, Allied Security has failed to update the union, or communicate at all on its inquiry into the assault on the hospital guard, “which just isn’t good enough.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Iriaka Rauhihi E tū Senior organiser ph. 027 544 8697

Muzzled and broken: family speaks out

The children of the security guard assaulted and seriously injured at Waikato Hospital have criticised Allied Security and the Waikato District Health Board for failing to keep her safe.

The guard suffered a broken arm and required surgery for multiple facial fractures after the assault.

“It was a pretty big shock. I didn’t know what to say to be honest,” says her son, Carl Harney.

“There are a lot of questions. She should have been safe, but she wasn’t. There should have been a lot more safety measures.”

Her daughter, Tajuana (pron. Tay-jana) Eltringham says when she saw the state of her mother after the assault, she fled from the ward.

“I burst into tears and walked out, it was a massive shock seeing my mum like that,” she says.

Harder still was telling her two younger siblings, aged 7 and 9, what had happened to their mum.

“I had to explain why she wasn’t coming home and why they couldn’t see her – the bruising and stuff – I couldn’t let two young kids see her that way,” says Tajuana. 

Both Carl and Tajuana say their mother had several close calls before the assault.

“There are a lot of the guards, not just my mum, who say they’re not safe. That guy shouldn’t have been on that ward,” says Carl.

“There are a lot of people you could blame, the person who did it obviously, but then Allied and the DHB after that.”

“Allied are useless,” says Tajuana. “They don’t look after their staff. They never have.”

Carl Harney is also angry about a media muzzle imposed by Allied on its security guards, which means his mother can’t speak for herself.

“I’m pretty pissed off about it,” says Carl. “I think everyone should have that right to talk, she should have that right.”

He says his mother loves her job at Waikato Hospital: “She loves the people she works with and she loves working at the hospital.”

But Carl and Tajuana were very concerned about her extremely long hours.  Both say their mother was constantly “harassed” to work during her time off.

“She got called in on every single day off. Mum is never home. She gets harassed even when she’s told them she’s not available to work. The big bosses – they don’t understand. They just think, ‘Yeah, you can work’.

“The fact the guards are underpaid and under-staffed is the other thing because you have to work those hours because of the low wages.”

Meanwhile, he says his mother is “up and down. She’s pretty tired most of the time. She’s pretty much lost her independence.”

E tū senior organiser, Iriaka Rauhihi says Allied Security’s media ban is preventing guards from speaking up about important health and safety issues.

“They should have the right to voice their legitimate concerns about this, but they don’t,” she says. “How can health and safety be improved with a culture of muzzling those on the front line?

“All Allied guards have been told not to speak to media – they know that means they could lose their jobs if they do.”

ENDS

To speak with Carl Harney or Tajuana Eltringham, please contact Karen Gregory-Hunt, ph. 022 269 1170.

Iriaka Rauhihi Senior E tū organiser ph. 027 544 8697

E tū: Waikato Hospital assault tip of iceberg

E tū says the serious assault on a security guard at Waikato Hospital this week is the tip of the iceberg and it’s time to end the use of security contractors who don’t provide adequate training, support and safe staffing.

Today, our injured member is out of the hospital’s High Dependency Unit but has severe injuries and faces a long recovery.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Sam Jones says assault is a daily risk for hospital security guards who are routinely understaffed and frequently poorly trained.    

“Most guards are too afraid to speak publicly for fear of losing their jobs, but we know of at least six cases where security guards have suffered serious assaults in our hospitals,” says Sam.

“In one case a guard was knocked unconscious and wasn’t found for half an hour; another is still recovering months after an assault with a fire extinguisher and another was the target of a knife attack.”  

He says the DHBs are placing their faith in budget security firms, which are failing to keep workers safe.

“They have an obligation to provide a safe working environment. They might be saving money by using contractors, but our injured worker has paid a very high price for that.”

The Convenor of E tū’s Runanga, Sharryn Barton is a former security guard, who once worked at the secure unit at Henry Bennett, Waikato Hospital’s mental health unit.

She says wages and conditions for security guards are very poor, while training is sometimes non-existent, despite the risks.

“Most contractors are desperate to get the work, so they’ll overlook certain things to get the contract, and that puts the workers at risk,” she says.

“Many are Tangatawhenua, Pacific Islanders and other migrants and women – the easiest people to exploit because they’re desperate for the job.

“I think we need an investigation into the security industry including the practices and ethics of these contractors as well as the people who contract them, to make sure workers aren’t bearing unacceptable risks just to keep their jobs.”

Sharryn says the whole issue of procurement standards for services such as hospital security also needs to be investigated.

Sam says the union will also be pushing WorkSafe to designate security as a high-risk occupation – a view shared by the better security firms and the New Zealand Security Association.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Sam Jones E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 544 8563

To contact Sharryn Barton please call Karen Gregory-Hunt ph. 022 269 1170.

DHB, Allied Security fail assaulted security guard

E tū says Allied Security and the Waikato DHB failed in their duty to protect a hospital security guard who suffered serious injuries in an assault at Waikato Hospital early on Wednesday morning.

The guard was injured after she stepped in to protect nursing staff.

E tū Waikato senior organiser, Iriaka Rauhihi, who has visited the member, says she’s in a bad way in Waikato Hospital’s high-dependency unit, and the union is providing support for her and her family.

“She’s suffered severely, with multiple injuries to her head, face and body, and will require multiple surgeries. It’ll be a long road to recovery and we’re lucky we’re not dealing with a fatality,” she says.

Iriaka says the woman’s family is horrified by what’s happened to her.

“Obviously they are shattered and frightened. They want to know how come she was injured like this and why wasn’t she safe?”

The guard is employed by DHB security contractor, Allied Security which Iriaka says has consistently failed in its obligation to protect its security guards from harm.

She says under-staffing and working weeks in excess of 60 hours are common.

“Our members tell us they’re really tired, over-worked and fed-up. It’s about this employer not putting in the resources and staffing to keep people safe, especially in high-risk areas like Henry Bennett and the Emergency Department.”

Iriaka says Allied is aware of the problems, but won’t address them, raising the question of whether it should be working as a health sector contractor.

She says the Health Sector Relationships Agreement requires Allied to work constructively on issues such as safety, but “Allied doesn’t think it has to be part of it.”

Iriaka says the DHB also has to accept that it too has a duty to ensure a safe working environment.

“We’re calling on the DHB to intervene to ensure the contractor is keeping its workers safe, because at the moment the guards don’t feel safe. They feel overworked and at risk.

“This is a clear example of how unsuitable Allied is in terms of working in the health sector and the DHB needs to reconsider this contractor. Our member has suffered a horrific ordeal which could have been prevented.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Iriaka Rauhihi Senior E tū organiser, ph. 027 544 8697

OCS/DHB service workers’ strikes cancelled

The strikes scheduled for tomorrow by OCS contracted service workers at Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa DHBs have been cancelled.

This follows agreement between E tū and OCS on the proposed terms and conditions of a new collective agreement for the workers, which is based on the DHB Multi-Employer Collective Agreement, or MECA, settled for directly employed service workers and signed off before Christmas.

The MECA sets the conditions for 4000 hospital service workers and includes pay rises of up to 40 percent over the next three years.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Sam Jones says the agreement was reached after mediation and talks late last week between E tū and OCS.

He says OCS subsequently confirmed funding arrangements with their DHBs clients to get a deal ahead of the strike.

“After a lengthy period of frustrating delays our members’ determination to push for a deal got results,” says Sam.

“They were prepared to strike to get a settlement and they have succeeded. Without that, I think we’d all still be waiting. So, this is great for them,” he says.

Sam says the members will vote on the proposed settlement over the coming fortnight.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Sam Jones, E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 544 8563

Westpac leads the pack

E tū congratulates Westpac for becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer.

Westpac is the first bank to become a Living Wage bank, following other large corporates like Vector and AMP.

While the bank’s directly employed staff are not affected, the workers employed by contractors will be getting a big pay bump as the Living Wage is rolled out.

E tū’s Living Wage Lead Organiser, Mat Danaher, says that it’s brilliant news for cleaners, security guards, and others.

“We know that workers employed by contractors can often get left out of the wages discussion. Westpac are showing that to truly be a responsible employer, anyone with regular and ongoing work in an organisation needs to be paid fairly,” Mat says.

“Many E tū members in jobs on or near the minimum wage have seen massive increases thanks to the Living Wage Movement and the employers who are stepping up to the plate.”

Mat says that it’s now time for other banks and wealthy organisations to get on board.

“Let’s face it – Westpac are one of very many organisations who could easily absorb the small cost of bringing workers employed by contractors up to the Living Wage. We’re calling on the other big Aussie banks, and indeed all large, profitable organisations, to take this important step.”

Mat says that organisations moving to the Living Wage has positive effects that reach further than just the workers who get an increase.

“All the evidence says that bringing up wages is the most straight-forward way to address inequality. This has massive flow-on effects for our whole economy. Low pay costs our country billions – through low productivity, poor health and education outcomes, and the government top ups that poverty wages necessitate.

“A big congratulations to Westpac for breaking the cycle. Our members across many industries and organisations are looking forward to achieving the same.”

ENDS

For more information and comment, please send Mat Danaher a text message – 021 336 519