Author: E tū

Blue Star workers on strike!

 

E tū members at Blue Star Group’s four print shops are on a 24-hour strike today, which began at 12:01am this morning.

The workers are taking industrial action after months of very little progress in their employment agreement negotiations. Their agreement expired last year.

Blue Star won’t budge on several unreasonable demands, such as wanting the ability to change shifts without the agreement of affected workers.

Communications Industry Coordinator Joe Gallagher says that’s not good enough.

“Job security and the ability to plan your life around work are key conditions that Blue Star workers both need and deserve,” Joe says.

“There are challenges facing the print sector here and internationally, but that’s no excuse to force workers to accept precarious conditions. So they won’t – and that’s why they are on strike today.

“Employment relationships are a two-way street. Workers wanting continued certainty around their ability to reject shift changes that interfere with their lives is completely reasonable.”

The company is also demanding that workers declare any secondary employment they have, which Joe says is a breach of their right to privacy.

“If a worker needs to pick up a few shifts somewhere else to make ends meet, how is that any of Blue Star’s business? What workers do on their own time shouldn’t factor here.

“Blue Star’s demands clearly demonstrate that their attitude towards their workforce is pretty grim. The company wants all the flexibility and information at their end, without giving a stuff about the workers and their right to organise their own lives.

“Today’s strike action is an escalation after months of failed negotiations, and we are sending a clear message: Come back to the table with reasonable demands, because we won’t stand down.”

ENDS

For more info and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

Labour Inspectorate Chorus report alarming but not surprising

A report released today by the Labour Inspectorate at Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has confirmed how bad the UFB fibre roll-out has been for workers employed by Chorus sub-contractors.

An MBIE investigation into the industry found that 73 of the 75 Auckland-based sub-contractors investigated had breached minimum employment standards. Breaches included employers failing to maintain employment records, pay employees’ minimum wage, pay holiday entitlements, and provide employment agreements.

E tū Communications Industry Coordinator Joe Gallagher says this is alarming, but not surprising.

“We have known about the effect of this contracting model since they started it,” says Joe.

“This model of contracting and sub-contracting has allowed Chorus to pass the buck, resulting in contractors exploiting their workforce to keep to budgets and schedules.

“It has resulted in terrible outcomes for the affected workers, as well as poor delivery of services in many areas.”

Joe says that Chorus need to shoulder the responsibility.

“Chorus have kept their heads in the sand on this for far too long. They have tried to discredit our union and our members when issues have been raised. They have insisted in the past that issues we have raised were isolated events.

“We now have crystal-clear evidence that the systemic exploitation of vulnerable workers is ‘business as usual’ for Chorus and the whole fibre roll-out operation.”

Joe says that political leadership on this issue is needed now more than ever.

“This fiasco is the result of terrible mismanagement from the last National Government. You might say that the model they oversaw seemed like it was designed for these inevitable results.

“Let’s be honest – if E tū hadn’t urged the Labour Inspectorate to investigate, with support from the current Government, this exploitation may have continued unfettered.

“The Government now has to move as quickly as possible to fix this any many other problems with the UFB roll-out. We are optimistic that this Government understands the issues and wants to fix them, but time is of the essence.”

ENDS

For more info and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

Second strike at OceaniaGold Waihi mine

Workers at OceaniaGold in Waihi will be on strike again this weekend, as the company continues to refuse a fair deal for the workers.

On Monday, workers at OceanaGold’s underground mine at Waihi voted unanimously for a second 48-hour strike, beginning at 7.15pm on Saturday, which will go ahead now that the company has refused to improve their offer in negotiations today.

The members had rejected a low-ball offer of 2.2 percent during earlier pay talks.

E tū organiser Myles Leeson says that while the workers are keen on resolving the issues, they will remain staunch as they fight for what they deserve.

“We’re hoping for a resolution to this dispute, and that means a realistic pay rise,” Myles says.

“The offer of 2.2 percent is well below what the company can afford, and what the workers are worth.

“The workers know they aren’t getting what they deserve, and they are very committed to continued industrial action while the pay offer remains so poor. Support for this second action has been rock solid.”

Myles says that the workers deserve their earned share of the record profits the company has enjoyed this year.

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Myles Leeson, 027 536 2690

 

E tū reaches settlement with Maori TV

JOINT STATEMENT

Māori Television and E tū have reached a settlement that reflects the expectations of both parties.

Māori Television looks forward to working alongside the E tū union in responding to future challenges and opportunities.

ENDS

For more info and comment:

E tū, Joe Gallagher (027) 5910015

Māori Television, Rick Osborne (021) 889 054

Statement on detention of TVNZ’s Barbara Dreaver

E tū stands alongside TVNZ Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver who was detained by police in Nauru earlier this week.

Barbara also had her credentials to cover the Pacific Islands Forum revoked. She was released after a few hours and then had her credentials restored.

Her crime? Doing her job as a journalist. Barbara, a longstanding member of our union, has also long been a committed and dedicated journalist bringing the stories of the Pacific to TVNZ’s audiences. She has reported on the region without fear or favour and brought her expertise, understanding and perspective to her reportage.

She was doing the same in Nauru when she was picked up by police for speaking to a refugee held in Australia’s offshore detention centre.

This is a story of huge public interest to audiences across the world and Barbara did not shy away from tackling it even though it has always been clear authorities in both Nauru and Australia are not keen on a light being shone on the issue.

While Barbara was detained by Nauru police, Australia too must take some responsibility for this attack on press freedom.

Barbara’s mistreatment is a timely reminder that within our close neighbourhood press freedoms we might take for granted in New Zealand are not so easily upheld elsewhere.

We stand in solidarity with journalists throughout the region who struggle to report the stories of the Pacific without the fear of facing authoritarian responses to their reportage.

We also welcome comments from New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters and National’s foreign affairs spokesman Todd McClay denouncing Nauru’s action and expressing how important freedom of the press is to democracy.

New apprenticeships programme an “excellent initiative”

E tū, the largest private sector union in New Zealand, is celebrating the Government’s focus on apprenticeships in the ‘Mana in Mahi’ programme announced today.

The new policy will help get young Kiwis into apprenticeships by subsidising wages paid to 18-24 year olds who have been on a benefit for six months or more.

E tū Construction Industry Coordinator Ron Angel says that it’s great that construction work is targeted in this programme.

“It’s an excellent initiative. There is plenty of construction work to do, and with so many of our country’s young people not in education or employment it makes a lot of sense to help them into the industry,” Ron says.

“While construction apprentices generally get paid around the minimum wage to begin with, there are opportunities to move up the pay scale relatively quickly.

“This policy should give young people a great opportunity to develop skills for well-paid, meaningful work in the construction industry.”

Ron says that government programmes will be an essential part of preparing New Zealand for the changing world of work.

“The world of work is changing rapidly, and as a nation we need to be preparing young people by giving them the experience and skills needed to handle that. E tū is relieved to have a Government that’s looking towards the future.”

ENDS

For more information or comment:
Ron Angel, 027 591 0055
If Ron cannot answer straight away, please leave a message and he will return your call.

LSG SkyChefs decision “important legal victory”

E tū is welcoming the decision of the Court of Appeal to turn down an appeal application from global airline catering company LSG SkyChefs, cementing an important legal victory for New Zealand workers.

Last year, the Employment Court ruled that hundreds of labour hire workers working in LSG SkyChef’s catering operation were in fact employees of the company, and if they were union members then they were entitled to the employment conditions set out in the union collective agreement.

E tū Assistant National Secretary John Ryall said that the Court of Appeal decision meant that the litigation was at an end, and LSG SkyChefs would need to pay the labour hire workers their proper entitlements.

“This decision cements our very important legal victory for the New Zealand workforce,” says John.

“Labour hire is being regularly used by many New Zealand companies to move the risk of employment on to a group of very vulnerable workers. It is time that the companies using labour hire in this way changed their business model.

“Our union will be knocking on the door of other companies who were also exploiting the mostly migrant labour hire workforce.”

ENDS

For more information or comment:
John Ryall, 027 520 1380

E tū “deeply relieved” after flight NZ5018 lands safely

A rare and frightening aviation emergency has ended with crew and passengers safe, after Air New Zealand flight NZ5018’s engine malfunctioned mid-flight.

The engine failure happened shortly after the Napier-Auckland flight took off this afternoon. It touched down safely shortly after.

E tū Head of Aviation Anita Rosentreter has been monitoring the situation and says that the most important thing is that the passengers and crew are safe.

“We are deeply relieved that this incident has ended with a safe landing,” Anita says.

“This will have been a scary experience for the crew and passengers on board. Although this incident will be the subject of a rigorous process to find out exactly what happened, the most important thing for now is that the plane is safely on the tarmac.

“We will be ensuring that our members affected by this emergency have all the support needed to deal with the aftermath.”

Anita says there will be many questions about how this incident occurred and that the union will be closely involved in the process from here.

“We don’t have any further details at this early stage, but we will be representing our members every step of the way.

“Union participation is a vital part of getting health and safety right in any workplace. We are pleased that our relationship with the company means we can work constructively together to minimise risks and respond appropriately when things go wrong.

“This emergency has not become an aviation disaster. I think that’s a huge testament to the crew onboard. One passenger has already been reported in the media saying the flight attendants were ‘brilliant, calm, and reassuring.’ I think that’s the mark of an excellent workforce.”

ENDS

For more information or comment:

Anita Rosentreter 022 240 9638

E tū awaits Living Wage for Govt contract workers

E tū has welcomed the Government’s decision to move all directly employed workers in the core public service to a wage rate of at least $20.55 – the 2018 Living Wage.

However, the union says the Living Wage needs to be extended to contract workers who also work in the core public service.

E tū Campaign Lead Organiser, Yvette Taylor says the lift in pay is great news for the nearly 2000 workers who will benefit.

“We welcome the Government’s decision to honour its election commitment to move directly employed public servants to the Living Wage,” says Yvette.

“This is a major step towards improving the pay of people whose wages are too low for them to live on with dignity.”

But she says a commitment was also made to the many thousands of workers contracted to the public service who won’t benefit from today’s announcement.

“During the election campaign, the Government said it would pay the Living Wage to these workers before the end of its first term and we are looking forward to them delivering on that,” says Yvette.

“Contract workers are the lowest paid people in the core public sector and if the government is serious about reducing poverty and showing leadership, it needs to be paying them the Living Wage.”

E tū delegate and security guard, Kenneth Renata is contracted to work for a core Government agency.

“It’s great the government is paying their workers the Living Wage, but I work for them as well and the hours are long and the wages low,” says Kenneth.

“The government said they would pay us the Living Wage. Now we want to see them keep their promise,” he says.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Yvette Taylor E tū Campaign Lead Organiser ph. 027 431 8486

For interviews with Kenneth Renata, please contact:

Karen Gregory-Hunt E tū Communications Officer ph. 022 269 1170