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.”