Category: General

Workers rejoice as Fair Pay Agreement Bill gets First Reading

The First Reading of the Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) Bill in Parliament today has been met by applause from low-paid workers across the country.

The bill will enable workers and their unions to negotiate minimum pay and conditions with their employers, which will then become minimum standards for the whole industry.

E tū member and security guard, Kajal Mani, is thrilled.

“As a young mother and a security guard, I am very excited to have Fair Pay Agreements here in Aotearoa,” Kajal says.

“It will mean better work conditions to keep me safe, to return home to my young family. It will mean fair wages so that I don’t have to work long hours, which supports holistic health and wellbeing for all.

“FPAs will also mean equality for all workers and effective partnership between unions and good employers to stop the race to the bottom.”

E tū member and cleaner, Madeleine Natua, agrees.

“Introducing Fair Pay Agreements will help a lot the lowest paid workers and our families, as it will set a benchmark in improving our terms and conditions to stop the race to the bottom,” Madeleine says.

“For so long, 30 years or so, New Zealand has been a low wage economy. Fair Pay Agreements will help lift Aotearoa to a high wage economy, and when workers are paid more, they will feel valued and appreciated.

“Long term, this will help lift hard working Kiwis, their whanau, and their communities out of poverty, which will also benefit everyone, including local businesses.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary, Annie Newman, says that the Fair Pay Agreements Bill gets right to the heart of the issues facing workers like Kajal and Madeleine.

“Today is an exciting and historic day for Aotearoa,” Annie says.

“The Fair Pay Agreements Bill sets out a comprehensive framework for finally getting some of our lowest paid and most vulnerable workers the respect and dignity they deserve at their jobs.

“It means more time with family, more money for food, rent, and other expenses, better access to health and safety, better training, and much more.

“It gives workers and employers the flexibility to negotiate fair minimum standards properly and means that good employers won’t be undercut by cowboys, who win contracts by giving their workers the lowest possible wages and conditions.

“Along with commitments to the New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme, the Living Wage, and a Just Transition, Fair Pay Agreements show that this Government really is transformational.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

FPAs will be the best change for workers in decades

E tū is thrilled to welcome the introduction of the Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) Bill to Parliament today.

The bill will provide a regulatory foundation for setting pay and conditions across whole industries, through negotiations between employers and workers through their unions.

This will be transformational for many industries, especially those where workers employed by contractors suffer low wages and poor conditions as a result of competitive tendering.

E tū member and security guard, Rosey Ngakopu, is excited about the development.

“It’s awesome that we’re finally here, after years of campaigning,” Rosey says.

“Security guards like myself are ready for FPAs. Having minimum standards across the whole industry will be very important.

“It’s not just about pay. In our industry, guards also need FPAs to ensure we have the right conditions across the board, especially decent training and proper health and safety practices.

“We need an FPA in security, because we are worth more than the bare minimum.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary, Annie Newman, says that FPAs will provide a voice for workers who usually miss out on collective bargaining.

“Low paid workers often simply cannot negotiate fair pay and conditions, as they don’t have proper access to collective bargaining, and wages and conditions are suppressed by competitive tendering.

“Providing this foundation to protect workers from these effects is essential in building an economy that works better for everyone.

Annie says that FPAs make good business sense for firms that want to do the right thing for their workers.

“We’ve heard from employers that they would like to improve things for their workers, but they simply cannot lift wages or meaningfully improve conditions, or they will be undercut by competitors in the tendering process. This creates a race to the bottom – a race that workers lose.

“E tū will continue to work constructively with the Government on developing great FPA legislation as the bill goes through Parliament, and we’re excited about negotiating the first FPAs in Aotearoa very soon.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

E tū and PSA members at parliament want protesters gone

Union members who work at parliament are calling for an end to intimidation, harassment and violence from the protestors who are occupying Parliament grounds.

A survey this week of members who work in the parliamentary precinct showed over 90 percent of members were either ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about the protest and the impact it is having on their health and safety.

E tū and PSA have many different groups of members at parliament, including cleaners, security, Parliamentary Service staff, Ministerial Services staff, Office of the Clerk and DPMC staff and MPs.

The most common reason for concern was worry about the physical safety of their colleagues. Other reasons included worrying about their own safety, being harassed while travelling to and from work, and the safety and wellbeing of children at the protest and in the community around Parliament.

Nearly half of respondents reported being verbally harassed on their way to and from work. Women and younger workers were more likely to be harassed. Six percent of respondents had been physically harassed and over 80 percent knew someone who had been.

There was strong support that the protest should end and protesters be removed from the surrounding streets.

“Imagine it – weeks of people camped outside your workplace targeting you and your colleagues for doing your jobs,” E tū organiser, Anaru Ryall says.

“While almost everyone finds the protests annoying and frustrating, many are finding it genuinely scary, as some of the protesters call for executions and other violence.

“On top of that, they are calling for removal of the public health measures that have kept us safe and continue to keep us from worst effects of the pandemic that we have seen overseas. The level of disinformation about the vaccine is deeply concerning.

“E tū strongly supports the Government’s vaccine roll out plan and urges the protesters to leave peacefully now, and please get vaccinated.”

PSA organiser, David Coates agrees, “Everyone supports the right to protest, to democratically express our views. Nobody disputes that. But these public health measures are in place to keep us ALL safe. To suggest otherwise is a disturbing aspect of the wider spread of disinformation.

“PSA supports the vaccination programme as an important aspect of the Covid-19 response and urges the protesters to leave peacefully and, in the interests of all, to get vaccinated.

“I am sure the results of this survey reflect the concerns of workers throughout the city.

“The impacts of the harassment, verbal and physical abuse, and general intimidation has an obvious and concerning impact on mental wellbeing. This occupation is affecting people’s ability to attend their place of work, to conduct their normal duties and go about their daily lives.”

ENDS

Next steps for social unemployment insurance

E tū is pleased to see progress on the Government’s plan to set up a system for social unemployment insurance.

Similar to ACC, social unemployment insurance would cover a substantial portion of lost income when a worker is made redundant. The details announced today propose that the scheme will cover up to 80% of a worker’s wages for six months, up to $1820 a week. It will be funded by a 1.39% levy on both employers and workers.

E tū has been campaigning for a social unemployment insurance scheme since before the last election. E tū Assistant National Secretary, Annie Newman, says the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for better income security.

“While Aotearoa has so far managed to avoid catastrophic levels of unemployment, the pandemic has reminded many of us that pay insecurity could be just around the corner,” Annie says.

“E tū members in some industries like aviation and hospitality have been hit hardest. Many workers have had to quickly find other jobs, sometimes on much lower wages. It’s been extremely difficult.

“Our members have been discussing the idea of social unemployment insurance as part of our Decent Work campaign. There is a lot of enthusiasm for the concept – it makes a lot of sense to workers.

“It’s also reassuring to see that the scheme takes into account the nature of work in the gig economy, where many people have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

“We congratulate the Government, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, and Business New Zealand for working together constructively to design this system.”

Annie notes that social unemployment insurance will not be a panacea for poverty in Aotearoa.

“While this will make a gigantic difference for workers and families who will benefit from it, E tū also supports expanding the wider social safety net, particularly by increasing current welfare payments.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

Carer’s legal victory shows need for employment reform

The father and full-time caregiver of a severely disabled woman has won his case in the Employment Court arguing that the Ministry of Health, and not his own daughter, is his employer.

The father, Peter Humphreys, was challenging the ‘Funded Family Care Model’, which sees people needing care considered the employers of those providing the care, even if they don’t have the capacity to carry out legal obligations as the employer.

Key to the case were issues like the minimum wage for time worked, the health and safety obligations of the employer, and who directs the work.

The Employment Court declared that Mr Humphreys is in fact employed by the ministry as a homeworker, and that his daughter could not have ever been his employer.

This means that the ministry has a range of obligations and liabilities, including to “remunerate Mr Humphreys appropriately for his work and in respect of health and safety,” the judgment reads.

Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says the judgment is a great outcome.

“E tū congratulates the Humphreys family on their victory and stands with all people with disabilities and their caregivers as they fight for a fair deal.

“Families in the same situation as the Humphreys have faced ongoing discrimination on pay and conditions from the parts of government which fund vital care work. Often, a family member acting as full-time caregiver actually saves our health system a lot of money, because it lessens the need for other and more expensive service providers.

“For too long, the Ministry of Health has skirted their obligations as the employer, using a model that describes the person needing care as the nominal employer, even when they do not fund or direct the work in any way.

“This judgment challenges that way of thinking, and it’s a very good step.”

Rachel says that the relationship between funders, clients, and workers creates problems across many areas of employment in Aotearoa.

“The case has similarities with Prasad v LSG Sky Chefs, where E tū members successfully argued that their labour hire arrangement did not permit LSG Sky Chefs to dodge their responsibilities as the real employer.

“We see similar issues across sectors that use the contracting model, such as cleaning and security.

“The ‘funder’ is often a large organisation such as a corporate or even a government department, but they have a hands-off approach to the affected workers because of these ‘triangular’ employment arrangements.

“E tū continues to campaign for meaningful solutions to unfair contracting, by supporting legal actions, organising vulnerable workforces, and campaigning for minimum standards to be upheld through mechanisms like Fair Pay Agreements and social procurement.”

ENDS

Emissions Reduction Plan – workers need a Just Transition

With the release of the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan consultation document today, workers need assurance there will be a Just Transition that puts their communities at the forefront.

Sam Huggard, Strategic researcher for E tū, Aotearoa’s largest private sector union, says that workers need confidence that the transition to a decarbonised country will be managed fairly, in order for affected workers to get in behind the necessary moves to reduce our emissions.

“The benefits of a more stable climate are for everyone, and so the heavy lifting of decarbonising cannot rest disproportionately on those with fewer resources,” Sam says.

“There absolutely can be a fair pathway to a zero carbon New Zealand, where workers rights are protected, low-income communities’ economic security is safe guarded, and Tiriti partners are co-designing the change.”

Sam says the consultation document does not reflect the importance of this part of the programme strongly enough.

“The document released today is not there yet and is missing core aspects of what we would expect from a Just Transition, and so it is now up to all of us to make sure we get this right. Unions are committed to bringing our experience in managing change to the table to help this.”

Sam says an equitable transition strategy is needed sooner rather than later if we are committed to preventing inequalities as we decarbonise.

“That strategy will need to inform all other parts of the Emissions Reduction Plan itself. It can’t be an add-on or extra chapter on the side.”

“For example, supporting congestion pricing in transport but then also agreeing to “look at ways to reduce the equity/distributional impacts of pricing tools” is problematic – equity needs to be incorporated into the decisions from day one.”

E tū will be mobilising its members to be involved in the consultation and will be seeking commitments to avoid market-based mechanisms that hit low-income workers as we decarbonise, guaranteeing workers a voice in transition processes for their industries, and a stronger focus on equity for Māori and Pacific workers.

E tū Komiti Pasefika calls for unity

The E tū Komiti Pasefika is calling for unity and kindness as Aotearoa bands together once again to eliminate COVID-19 in our community.

The latest outbreak has affected Pacific Island families in particular, which has resulted in a rise in racism, particularly on social media.

E tū National Executive and Komiti Pasefika member Gadiel Asiata says he is proud of the steps his whole community are taking to combat COVID-19.

“Our Pacific Island communities have pulled together to do our bit,” Gadiel says.

“We know that we can’t let this pandemic win. We know it’s important to stay calm, stay home, wear a mask, and adhere to the rules.

“I live with my elderly mother, and with how dangerous the Delta strain is, I know how important it is to stay home to keep my family safe. Many Pasefika people in South Auckland live with their elderly relatives – we know the stakes.

“We can’t let this pandemic divide us.”

Gadiel says that the Government should take any opportunities to work with the Pasefika community to fight the pandemic.

“We have been calling for vaccination stations to be set up at churches and give our community leaders the tools to get our people protected. A good plan needs to be by the community, for the community.”

E tū organiser Fala Haulangi says the backlash against the Pasefika community has left her feeling upset.

“I feel really hurt for my people, as once again there is a narrative out there blaming our Pasefika people instead of blaming COVID-19,” Fala says.

“Our public health officials have praised the Pasefika community for doing the right thing – we are proud of our efforts. We are a very collective community. It is in our DNA and upbringing to always look out for each other.

“So many of our essential workers are Pasefika people as well, they are really holding things together. We need to be so grateful for their work and we owe them heaps.

“We just need to be kind to each other as we fight to stamp out COVID again. Kia kaha, Aotearoa! We have done it before, we can surely do it again!”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Fala Haulangi, 027 204 6332

New Zealand unions take on Uber

E tū and First Union today filed a claim in the Employment Court seeking employment rights for Uber drivers.

The claim asks the court to declare that Uber drivers are employees and are entitled to the same minimum wage rates and leave entitlements as other New Zealand workers.

Uber has traditionally argued that their 7000 drivers are not employees or contractors but are simply paying to use the Uber app in order to connect them to passengers.

Uber have also stated that they are not in the business of passenger transport, but simply providing a platform for independent business operators to connect with customers.

E tū spokesperson Yvette Taylor said that this case follows similar cases in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and parts of the USA, which had ruled in favour of the drivers.

“The Uber system is designed to get around New Zealand employment laws and deprive the drivers of their minimum legal entitlements,” Yvette says.

“Gig workers, such as those employed by Uber, are at the forefront of a new form of exploitation where management is replaced by an algorithm built into an app, with its ability to deactivate workers without reason and take away their income.”

ENDS

Our week in action – 16 July 2021

Members win 8% at McKechnie’s Aluminium in Taranaki

After nearly 18 months of bargaining, standing strong to fight off proposed clawbacks of redundancy, sick leave and allowances, McKechnie’s workers have won an 8% increase over 30 months – their best pay rise since 2005!

The proposal was narrowly accepted by members, who remain unified despite having a close vote.  Thirteen new ember-leaders have been confirmed, making our delegate and member-leader team 17 strong.  During the course of negotiations, our membership grew by 15 members, bringing us over 80%. 

E tū and First Union to take Uber to court

We announced that we will go to court seeking employment rights for Uber drivers. We want the court to declare that Uber drivers are employees and deserve the same minimum standards (such as pay and leave) as other workers.

This case follows similar cases in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and parts of the USA, which had ruled in favour of the drivers.

E tū Job Match and Solidarity Membership launched

We have re-launched our Job Match service, to help people find and prepare for new jobs, and our Solidarity Membership, for members and non-members alike to pay from just $2 a week to further support our important work.

Click here to check out E tū Job Match

Click here to check out Solidarity Membership

Komiti Pasifika Auckland Fono

E tū’s Komiti Pasifika held their Northern Regional Fono today, to celebrate the successes of the Komiti and plan for the future. Today members met with EEO Human Rights Commissioner Dr Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo about becoming an active force in the Commission’s Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry.