With the challenges of climate change, new technology, and COVID-19 faced by many workers, E tū wants to make sure no one is left behind.
Since December, E tū has been running one-day workshops on the concept of “Just Transition” – the idea that workers should be engaged in their own futures, supported through change, and shouldn’t bear the brunt of inevitable changes to the economy.
Funded by the Government as part of the country’s COVID-19 recovery, E tū’s workshops are geared towards members working in manufacturing – a sector currently going through much change.
Members look at what a Just Transition is, why it’s needed, and how they can go about getting one on their own worksites. E tū delegate Ralph Greig, who works a night shift in manufacturing, says being well informed as delegates will definitely help to see the transition process carried out.
“We can relate it to our colleagues at work, and it would resolve many issues at the grassroots level.”
Another delegate Jennifer O’Brien-Finau, who has worked in manufacturing for 16 years, says she can take the information back to her workplace: “Now I understand the rights of our union – between us and the company, between us and the Government.”
“One union language”: standing tall as a Solidarity Member
Muti Saifiti knows how important unions are – she was part of one for almost 20 years – and her son, Gadiel, is following in her footsteps.
Now the former Service Workers Union member is giving back to E tū as a Solidarity Member – a new type of membership for those who don’t need workplace representation but want to stay connected to E tū.
Samoan-born Muti came to New Zealand in the 1960s, following her husband, as they immigrated to what they saw as a land of opportunity for their growing family.
Muti worked in many sectors E tū represents today: cleaning, manufacturing, and home support. While working as a cleaner at Middlemore Hospital, Muti remembers fighting for and winning the right to a taxi home (a provision in her collective) on weekends and public holidays.
“I more or less threw my boss ‘under the bus’ as it was, but the union played a pivotal role in helping us fight for our rights.”
Muti also became a Solidarity Member as a nod to one of her sons, Gadiel, who sits on E tū’s National Executive. Unions are important because of the support they provide, she says: “Whether you speak English or not, there’s only one union language.”
Solidarity membership is also open to existing members as a top-up to your fees. For more, check out etu.nz/solidarity for more.