Author: E tū

Strike at Pacific Steel

Members at BlueScope Pacific Steel in Auckland will strike for 24 hours on Wednesday, 15 August.

Members will walk off the job from 7am in protest over the break down in their pay talks.

An overtime ban has been in place at the Otahuhu site since Friday.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says workers voted to strike after five months of frustrating pay talks, with BlueScope refusing to make a decent pay offer – despite its huge profit, unveiled yesterday.

“BlueScope has more than doubled its net profit this year to almost AUD$1.6 billion and lifted their pay out to shareholders,” says Joe.

“The New Zealand side of the business delivered a lift in earnings of more than 80 percent – the highest return in the group. To suppress wages in the wake of this stellar result is unacceptable,” he says.

Joe says members met the company for mediation on Friday and thought they had a deal.

However, he says the company quickly withdrew its offer and members imposed the overtime ban and voted to strike.

“Our members have taken a hit in recent years – they’ve taken modest pay rises and worked with the company to cut costs to support the business. Now it’s bounced back but it isn’t prepared to share the bounty with its workers.

“Their Australian counterparts have had the same offer and are also voting on strike action. It’s clear BlueScope has taken a trans-Tasman approach to bargaining with their low-ball offer.

“These are highly skilled production and trades workers who use their hearts, heads, and hands every day to make the profits this company now enjoys. That is particularly true here in New Zealand, so the company needs to make an offer that reflects that benefit.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Joe Gallagher Industry Coordinator E tū ph. 027 591 0015 or

Ahlene McKee E tū Northern Region Director of Organising ph. 027 591 0065

Members will be picketing outside the mill tomorrow from 7am-11am.

Where: James Fletcher Drive, Otahuhu.

Maori TV members strike today

E tū members at Maori TV are on strike as of 6am this morning for 24 hours.

The members will be picketing this morning outside Maori TV’s South Auckland studios from 10 am.

The strike follows the failure of the company to settle members’ Collective Agreement, after talks last Thursday collapsed.

“We were really close on the money offered and we were very close on addressing the humiliation our members feel in the wake of the favourable treatment by Maori TV of its non-union members,” says Joe Gallagher, E tū Industry Coordinator.

“Maori TV promotes itself on values and treating people with dignity. But the company’s lack of respect for our members is what this dispute is all about,” says Joe.

ENDS

What: Maori TV picket

Where: 433 East Tāmaki Road, East Tāmaki, Auckland

When: 10am 8 August

For further information, contact;

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015

E tū demands action over AFFCO boiler

1 August 2018

MEDIA RELEASE

E tū demands action over AFFCO boiler

E tū has written to WorkSafe asking it to urgently respond to a second incident involving the boiler at AFFCO’s Moerewa meat works, which seriously injured a boilerman in an incident last month.

The man is being treated for serious burns in Middlemore Hospital.

E tū organiser, Annie Tothill says the latest incident occurred on Monday night.

“We understand coal accumulated in front of the boiler door,” says Annie.

“Usually someone would open the door to inspect the boiler. But the earlier incident meant the boilerman was hypersensitive and instead shut the boiler down.

“I have been told the problem lies with the feeders that feed the boiler with coal. This system is not alarmed so problems are undetectable until pressure reaches a dangerous level.

“This is serious, and our members fear another appalling accident,” she says.

She says AFFCO told the union the boiler has been checked by an independent professional, “but it appears the assessment failed to spot the feeder was faulty.”

Annie says there is a culture of fear at the plant and workers are too afraid to raise issues for fear of intimidation or losing their jobs.

“Our members have zero confidence in the plant management and it’s time WorkSafe took the matter seriously. It needs to act swiftly to ensure the boiler is shut down until both incidents are thoroughly investigated and the causes are fully addressed.”

Annie says she has written to AFFCO demanding they remedy the fault and undertake sustained testing and monitoring to ensure the boiler is safe before it is used again.

The union has also written to WorkSafe, requesting an urgent assessment by an inspector as well as an assessment of the boiler by a qualified external engineer.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Annie Tothill E tū organiser ph. 027 573 4934

Annie has a busy day – please text her to make arrangements for an interview, and she will call back.

 

Strike at Maori TV

Union members at Maori TV will walk off the job for 24 hours on August 8 in protest over the TV channel’s unfair and discriminatory treatment.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says the action follows months of delays by MTV in addressing members’ pay claims, with the company telling the union in October that it had no money.

“We were told they were waiting for the board to provide guidance on a new financial management plan and they’d come back with an answer in a couple of week.

“We were supposed to reconvene for talks in November, but we heard nothing by Christmas.

“then we were informed by our members that Maori TV had through performance appraisals had paid non-union staff a bonus before Xmas and a wage adjustment in Jan this year.

We think they’ve undermined the bargaining process by telling us they have no money while giving bonuses and a pay rise to non-union workers.”

And so, our members feel they’ve been discriminated against for being, and belonging to E tū.

Joe says Maori TV has not acted in good faith.

“That despite their claiming to be a values-based organisation, but they don’t seem to live those values, despite the union working to build a good relationship.”

“The direction and behaviour of the management at MTV is seriously lacking for a company and organisation which promotes the values of tikanga.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Joe Gallagher, E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015

Workers must be consulted on home support changes

Stability and certainty for home care workers and their clients must be central to any decisions made around service providers in the Wellington region, the PSA and E tū unions say.

Capital and Coast DHB and Hutt Valley DHB are calling for tenders for home care support services, after calling time on their existing arrangement of a sole provider model (currently Access Community Health).

The DHBs have made clear their intention to contract more than one provider to deliver this service, and unions say secure and stable work for support workers must be central to any new contract.

“Care and support workers fought for and won proper recognition of the crucial work they do, and we are concerned they may be left out of this process,” PSA National Secretary Kerry Davies says.

“Whoever wins this contract must be properly funded to do this work, including all obligations around training, guaranteed hours and in-between travel.”

The PSA and E tū understand DHBs intend to consult with stakeholders, and say workers must be included in the process.

“If we are to genuinely move towards quality care for our elderly people, then clients and support workers must be consulted,” E tū Delegate Tamara Baddeley says.

“Without this consultation, DHBs cannot deliver the care and support elderly people need.”

PSA delegate Helen Amey says she’s worried about uncertainty and instability for workers, because this is the third time many of them have been through this process.

“We are also worried about the impact on our clients, who rely on us to live independently and need continuity of support.”

The PSA and E tū say maintaining the recent gains achieved by support workers must be core to any decisions made.

The unions urge the DHBs to begin proper consultation with workers and their representatives as a matter of urgency.

Sistema CEO hiding from workers

Sistema CEO Drew Muirhead has refused to meet with worker representatives to receive a petition signed by more than 300 Sistema workers.

The petition reminds Sistema that its high productivity levels and product quality are due in large part to its workers, and in return they should be respected and rewarded with fair pay.

E tū advocate Neville Donaldson says the signatories include both union and non-union workers at the giant plastics firm, “which shows you how aggrieved people are feeling,” he says.

“Anger over their working conditions extends across the entire factory floor. When non-union workers join their unionised colleagues to protest about lack of respect, you know there’s a problem,” Neville says.

“In this case, everyone wanted to express their frustration over not being valued for their contribution to Sistema’s success – something Sistema’s management has refused to take on board.

“They feel no obligation to respect or reward workers fairly.”

E tū delegates at Sistema say workers are fed up with compulsory 60-hour weeks for minimum rates of pay, as well as the terrible working conditions.

This week workers revealed via social media the blisters and callouses on their hands from the hard work they do. As one delegate told E tū: “It’s a sweatshop.”

Neville says Sistema’s refusal to deal with the concerns of its workers goes to the heart of the labour reforms of the current Government which has recognized the need for change.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Neville Donaldson E tū advocate and National Director of Industries ph. 027 543 5312

Strike! Taharoa workers have had enough

E tū union members at Taharoa Ironsands mine have issued a strike notice today, as the company continues to refuse a fair deal for the workers.

The industrial action will take effect from just after midnight on 24 August, and involves a complete ban on loading the iron slurry onto ships, meaning it will remain onshore until further notice.

E tū organiser Joe Gallagher says the strike is in response to the completely unreasonable approach to wage talks taken by the company, with new boss Wayne Coffey calling the shots.

“The company, under the guidance of Wayne Coffey, is determined to reduce terms and conditions for current employees and to strip away long-standing rights and entitlements for future workers,” says Joe.

“Ever since Mr Coffey took over, the Taharoa community has been bullied and side-lined. The workers have had enough of the company’s refusal to treat them fairly,” he says.

Joe says the mining operations have been vital to the welfare of the remote Taharoa community, which has been a shining example of a self-sustaining community.

“Local groups and leaders banded together to establish a local employment policy that, on the whole, has functioned well until this point.

“Now workers, their families, and the wider community are deeply concerned that Mr Coffey has no regard for the local people nor the generations that will come after them.”

Joe says that high union density onsite and strong local support has encouraged Taharoa workers to stand up to the company and protect their way of life.

“The workers won’t back down,” says Joe.

“They’re highly skilled, highly organised, and know that they deserve the respect that Taharoa Ironsands Ltd won’t give them. Every single member voted in favour of taking this action.

“The message from the community is simple. They won’t let their terms and conditions go backwards. They will stand up together, not just for themselves, but for their colleagues and family that come after them.

“Mr Coffey seems to be saying it’s his way, or the highway. Well, the community that lives and works together will be standing tall together to show him that we see things differently.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015

Mental health pay equity settlement signed

Around 5000 mental health and addiction support workers will be paid what they are worth, after the ground-breaking care and support settlement was extended to cover them.

Health minister David Clark has signed the $173.5 million pay equity settlement, along with representatives from unions, providers and the Ministry of Health.

“We’re really happy the government has honoured its election commitment to extend the care and support settlement to mental health and addiction support workers,” says E tū Assistant National Secretary John Ryall.

“They’ve had to wait but it’s been worth waiting for,” he says.

“I think it’s a real triumph for the workers who have worked tirelessly for so little pay for so long,” says E tū delegate Leon Tunoho who has worked for nine years as a mental health and addictions support worker.

“I also hope this helps retain the good people working in this sector as well,” he says.

“These workers were unfairly left out of the equal pay care and support settlement by the National government, and we’re thrilled to see this wrong righted today,” PSA Assistant National Secretary Kerry Davies says.

“They do crucial work with some of the most vulnerable people in New Zealand, and today they are getting what they truly deserve – because they are worth 100%.”

PSA Delegate Tarn Evans says today is a hard-won victory which will make a huge difference.

“Many mental health and addiction support workers are paid at or just above the minimum wage, and it’s really hard to make ends meet.

“Now, we’ll be able to feed our families, pay our bills and put fuel in our cars without worrying if there’s enough left in our bank accounts.”

The settlement will see more than half of workers in the sector get an increase of more than $3 an hour – and one in five will get more than $5 an hour.

The increase will be backdated to July 2017.

 

No relief at Sistema sweatshop

E tū says Sistema’s American owners are determined to preserve the sweatshop conditions established by former owner, Brendan Lindsay who sold the company for $660 million.

The union has been in talks with this wealthy company, seeking better pay and conditions for its mainly migrant workers.

But E tū advocate, Neville Donaldson says Sistema’s multi-billion-dollar owner, Newell Brands refuses to consider anything more than the bare legal minimum.

“They’ve told us they won’t deliver any pay and conditions much more than the law requires for the vast majority of its staff – that’s bare bones minimum wages for workers who are required to work five 12-hour days – that’s 60 hours a week.

“Overtime” rates are just $2 more per hour and is only paid out after 60 hours per week.

“Some people work 12- hour days, seven days a week,” says Neville who accuses Sistema of the systematic exploitation of its predominantly Indian, Filipino and Pasifika workforce.

“They’re predominantly migrants and come from a back ground of having no choice but to accept whatever they are offered,” he says.

“Sistema is exploiting this belief, and the workers as a result.”

E tū delegate, Maria Latu says,” People think they are made to work like robots here. The operators are overworked and the money they get at the end of the week isn’t worth it.

“They deserve better,” she says.

Neville says Sistema is a perfect example of why workers need fair pay agreements.

“Sistema seems proud to be the lowest paid plastics firm in the country, with the worst conditions of employment and the longest hours, whilst lauding the success of its products.

“It must be challenged over its behaviour. If it goes unchallenged, then other employers may feel they also have to reduce pay and conditions to compete.

“Sistema needs to grow a soul and consider what’s fair for workers. The public is growing impatient with wealthy, exploitative companies – and that certainly describes Sistema.”

Neville says the union is looking to mediation next month to break the stalemate.

He says the union has strong support on site, with membership growing to more than 200 as workers grow sick of the long hours, low pay and fatigue of their grinding working week.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Neville Donaldson E tū National Industry Strategy Director (Food) ph. 027 543 5312