E tū is working as fast as possible to bring our members the best information, advice, resources, and support while the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. We will keep this page updated with all the latest general info.
The E tū position
- Keeping communities safe from COVID-19 is the top priority.
- No workers left out of pocket.
- All decisions focused on keeping and creating decent jobs.
- Union members involved in all decision-making.
E tū is the union of 54,000 working people from across New Zealand. Our
values are embodied in our union’s name, which comes from a Māori waiata:
E tū kahikatea – Stand like the kahikatea tree
Hei whakapae ururoa – To brave the storms
Awhi mai awhi atu – Embrace and receive each other
Tātou tātou e – We are one together
A storm has come, with COVID-19, the most significant health and economic shock the country has faced in generations. It will have lasting impacts.
When we come together with our workmates in a union, we do so to stand tall together, to stand as one, and to look out for each other. We fight for fair pay and conditions on the job. We make sure no one is left behind. We say that fairness and decency need to be the drivers of all decisions that affect us.
Our response to COVID-19 needs to come from these values of standing and working together. We expect that the Government will play a huge role in helping us through, with a big boost in healthcare protections and by easing the effects on us as workers. We expect employers to play their part too, by doing everything they can to help us and involving union members every step of the way.
Just like a family gathers around each other when they are in hard times, we should gather around each other as a country when workers face an economic shock like the one coming from COVID-19.
New Zealand should be able to provide good jobs with decent pay and a strong social security system for workers in times of need. However, this is simply not the case for many of us. New Zealand has one of the weakest safety nets to support workers through change in the developed world. The costs of economic restructuring largely fall onto individual working people.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can turn around our social support systems to put working people at the centre of them. The Government’s $12.1 billion COVID-19 recovery package announced in mid-March was an essential start to providing support on the rocky road ahead. The Government response needs to go further, so that the top priority is protecting and supporting workers.
We need to get this right with our response to COVID-19 and make it the template for other change that we know is coming. We know that climate change and technological change are significant in our employment and social lives, as well as in the wider economy. What we do now to support our people and families will set the standard for those transitions.
Our union family includes aviation, airport services, and tourism workers with adaptable experience and skills, who need to be supported now so they are ready to return to work when they can. Our union family includes skilled and experienced cleaners, who are frontline defenders in the public health crisis that requires hygiene control. Our union family includes healthcare workers who are working hard in exhausting conditions to protect our vulnerable. They need to be supported to be safe and to be able to meet the increase in care required. Of course, our union family includes many more who will be affected by COVID-19 in many other ways.
E tū COVID-19 bottom lines
- Special paid leave: A commitment that employers will back their employees with special paid leave in the event of COVID-19 related isolation and/or illness. No worker should suffer an income drop while they are helping to protect all of us from further spread of the virus.
- Wage security: Government wage subsidies to help employers facing COVID-19 related financial difficulties retain staff in decent jobs throughout the pandemic period. These subsidies must be generous and ensure workers can meet expenses such as rent and mortgages – and provide for casual, gig and contracted workers. In industries like aviation, these skilled staff are needed to drive the recovery of the business and our economy as soon as possible.
- Respect upcoming wage increases: Workers’ livelihoods and incomes must still be protected and enhanced. This means that all upcoming wage increases, including the scheduled minimum wage increase and increases negotiated in collective bargaining, must be maintained.
- Transition planning: Put in place a transition plan for affected workers. Plans should include what happens if and when work runs out, how employers will support the affected workers and their families, and how they will be brought back on board as possible. These should be a requirement where access to significant government funding happens. These should be in line with the principles of a ‘Just Transition’.
- Decent work alternatives: A government and business initiative to find alternative work for displaced workers using comparable skills, that pays at least the Living Wage.
- Skills and training: A government and business initiative to maximise skill training opportunities able to be rapidly deployed that could be linked to current and future Industry Transformation Plans.
- Family support: A government wage-support for those forced to stay at home to take care of sick children and family members, or in the event of school closures.
- Health care sector: Augmenting our care sector with additional resources that support our public health response, including extra staff.
- Workplace health: We must ensure the health of those at work, particularly those health workers (whether directly employed or contracted) who are on the front lines of this crisis. We must ensure adequate protective equipment is provided and workers have access to vaccines to protect their health and wellbeing. We can utilise trained workplace health and safety representatives who may become available to help ensure industry-wide information, training and compliance in workplaces.
- Strong unions: Unions can provide a unique perspective, and resource, in ensuring a ‘Just Transition’ response. A worker representative should be included in all decision-making at both government-level and in businesses. Unions also ensure rights and safety are upheld, and we seek an assurance from employers and government that workers will be able to access onsite representation from their union to protect their rights including health and safety. If this cannot be practically done due to health and safety concerns, employers must make alternative arrangements for union access.
- An urgent increase in payments for the unemployed: Protecting the existing unemployed as well as workers who have been laid off – they are the most vulnerable in our society.