Employment relations system
The current system is broken. Workers do not get the collective rights they need to negotiate decent wages and conditions or to have a voice in the future of their work. We need new law to protect workers and strengthen unions. E tū calls for:
- recognition of the value of workers’ knowledge and participation
- expanded worker education
- the right for workers and unions to be involved in decisions about their jobs and industries
- redundancy compensation in law
- an increase in sick leave from five to ten days a year
- an extension of paid parental leave to 12 months.
Fair Pay Agreements
New Zealand is one of the few countries in the OECD without law that creates industry standards for workers. We need to be able to bargain across sectors for decent pay rates and work conditions where
- all workers and employers covered by the relevant Fair Pay Agreement, including contracted workers
- Fair Pay Agreements to be final and binding when a majority of workers vote for them.
The Living Wage
Poverty and inequality in New Zealand have reached a crisis point and it keeps getting worse. People need wages that are high enough to pay the rent, feed their families, cover other expenses, and leave enough left over for participation in the community. E tū calls for the Living Wage to be the wage floor for all workers across the public service and state sector, including contracted workers
‘Procurement’ is the process used to choose which contractors deliver services. Usually, the cost is the main thing that organisations consider and choose the cheapest option. This means that companies use low wages to stay competitive, ensuring a ‘race to the bottom’. The Government must recognise it has a responsibility to all citizens, including the workers employed by their own contractors. Considering the wider societal consequences of these decisions is known as ‘social procurement’. E tū calls for:
- a commitment to improve standards for all workers procured by government to delivers services
- ‘social procurement code’ and a stand-alone crown agency (similar to Worksafe NZ) that oversees collaborative contracts
- a key stakeholder board that includes unions, to oversee the proposed agency.
E tū has a very diverse membership across the healthcare industry, including in aged care, home support, disability support, and hospital service workers. Many of the problems in the industry relate to privatisation, ongoing underfunding by successive governments, and decisions made to maximise profits instead of maximising health outcomes. E tū calls for:
- fair, transparent, and sustainable funding of health services
- proper social procurement policies
- no contracting out of District Health Board services until social procurement policies are in place
- a move away from working with for-profit providers of health services
- public ownership of services with people at the centre, including workers, clients and patients
- a full review of the outdated 2005 staffing level standards
- a commitment to extend the Care and Support Workers Pay Equity Settlement beyond June 2022 (when it currently ends)
- non-negotiable access to full and proper training.
The ‘just transition’ concept is simple: the costs of the necessary changes that deliver all of us a more stable climate must be spread evenly and not fall heavily and disproportionately on workers and their communities. Workers from industries like oil, gas and coal, who have helped build the prosperity that the country has enjoyed, deserve the certainty of pathways into decent, well-paying jobs in new industries. Since COVID-19 hit, the need for a just transition approach on a much wider scale is now clear, as huge changes come to aviation, tourism, hospitality, and many other sectors. E tū calls for:
- a just transition to ensure workers and their communities do not bear the full brunt of the changes in the energy industry and beyond
- income support for those out of work (or in unpaid work) that lets them live with dignity
- involvement of tangata whenua as te Tiriti partners at all levels, with adequate funding
- existing government industry policy (Industry Transformation Plans) to be rapidly rolled out across more industries
- unions to be resourced to properly represent a worker voice in all decisions
- a commitment from firms to working with unions and government in transition planning
- the implementation of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommendations
- strengthening our regional economic development programme (including the Provincial Growth Fund)
Broader policy areas
While employment-related issues are a key focus for E tū in this election campaign, we are calling for some wider reforms that will help workers (and everyone else) including:
- free dental care for all Kiwis
- proper housing reform, including an expansion of state and social housing programs
- an infrastructure upgrade as part of building strong communities, such as better public transport.