Category: Politics

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.

Families package to benefit members

E tū says thousands of its members are expected to benefit from the Government’s Families Package, which comes into effect today.

The package includes:

  • widening eligibility for key benefits including Working for Families which will increase for many
  • wider access to the Accommodation supplement and an increase for eligible people in expensive locations such as Auckland and Hamilton
  • a Winter Fuel benefit
  • A lift in the Family Tax Credit and an increase in the abatement threshold.
  • Best Start payments for families with a new baby.

The implementation of the package also coincides with the extension of Paid Parental Leave to 22 weeks.

“The Government is committed to addressing child poverty in this country and the only way to do that is to lift the family income,” says E tū Industry Coordinator, Jill Ovens.

“That’s what this package does in many different ways, including crucially in the child’s first year of life, and for three years for those on low incomes. $3,000 a year will make a huge difference towards giving children a really good start,” she says.

Jill says the extension of paid parental leave will also benefit children by giving parents, whether the father or the mother time to strengthen the bond with their baby.

“That’s all about giving parents choices,” she says.

Jill says the changes are complex and members should check the details of the package to establish their correct entitlements.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Jill Ovens E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 446 4966

We can put media in touch with members who can speak to the Winter Fuel payment and the lift in Working for Families as well as the effect of changing abatement levels on benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

E tū: labour reforms long over-due

E tū says proposed changes to the Employment Relations Act are long over-due and essential to addressing widespread labour abuses in New Zealand.

However, it opposes the amendment which would retain 90-day trial periods in workplaces with fewer than 20 workers.

In its submission on the Bill, the union says the changes recognise the role of unions in improving workers’ lives and the need to level the playing field.

“The previous National Government changed the law to weaken protections for our members, particularly the most vulnerable, such as cleaners and security guards,” says John Ryall, E tū Assistant National Secretary.

“The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of employers, and the changes would go a long way towards legitimising the vital role of unions in improving pay and conditions, and rebuilding respect between workers and their employers,” he says.

In particular, John says the union supports an amendment to Part 6A of the Act, to restore protections for vulnerable workers in firms of less than 20 people.

“The exemption to this protection has resulted in the decimation of cleaning jobs and abuses of cleaners on a huge scale. Bullying, cuts to hours and jobs and short-pays are endemic in this industry,” says John.

E tū also strongly opposes the Bill’s preservation of 90-day trial periods for employers with fewer than 20 workers.

John says 90-day trials should be scrapped altogether.

“This unfair law has been used on tens of thousands of people, and is devastating for many,” he says.

He cites the case of a member who recently won a settlement after being sacked on the last day of her 90-day trial at a top plastics firm, after she notified the company she couldn’t work because she had a sick child.

“This was a disgraceful example of how unfairly this law has been used,” John says.

ENDS

For further information, contact;

John Ryall E tū Assistant National Secretary ph. 027 520 1380

John will be presenting E tū’s submission to the Education and Workforce Select Committee on Wednesday, 23 May at 10.45am, together with E tū members.

 

Budget invests in key priorities

E tū has welcomed the budget as a first step in dealing with some important priorities for working people, with much needed investment in the health, education and welfare of all New Zealanders.

As well as initiatives which will reduce medical costs for many E tū members, the Budget includes a massive investment of $42 billion dollars over four years in capital spending.

This includes billions of dollars in new capital for hospitals, schools and homes, as well as new infrastructure including rail and roading.

“As well as the financial fillip for the economy which this will provide, it also means thousands of new jobs in industries such as construction,” says Bill Newson, E tū National Secretary.

“It’s good to see the spending committed to addressing the country’s social and infrastructure deficit.

“Yes, the economy is doing well, but the benefits have not been shared fairly. This budget puts money where it’s needed, in health, education and housing which will also help our many members on low incomes,” says Bill.

Bill has also applauded the commitment to increasing the number of labour inspectors.

“This will help enhance the inspectorate’s ability to monitor and investigate labour abuses which are rife across many of the industries we represent,” he says.

Bill has also urged a collaborative approach to the Government’s new initiatives, saying businesses, unions and government agencies need to work together.

“The challenge is to bring together the many parties with a stake in our economy, to plan how to leverage the many opportunities included in this budget. That includes workforce planning, so we have the workers we need to meet the targets set by the Government, and a plan for the future of work.

“If we can do that, everyone will benefit.”

ENDS.

For more information, contact:

Bill Newson E tū National Secretary ph. 027 538 4246 

Employment relations changes “off to a flying start”

E tū, the biggest private-sector union in New Zealand, is pleased with most of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill announced by the Government today.

E tū National Secretary Bill Newson says that the process is “off to a flying start”, with many improvements for working people and their unions.

Bill says the changes recognise the pressing concerns about the personal and economic cost of low wages and inequality.

“This Government has made fixing inequality a top priority. Wages are a huge factor in this, so strengthening the rights of workers and their unions is critical,” Bill says.

“We see this bill as a big leap forward towards a fair and equitable society.”

Bill says the changes restore many of the rights that were taken away by the last Government.

“We can celebrate some big wins for all workers, such as the restoration of statutory rest and meal breaks and the restoration of reinstatement as the primary remedy to unfair dismissal.”

Bill says working people will also be in a better position thanks to strengthened collective bargaining and union rights.

“Unions will have improved access to workplaces, making unions more available to their members and prospective members. It’s also great that employers will be required to pass on information about active unions – people need to know about the best vehicle for their voice in the workplace. Paid time for union delegates to represent their colleagues will be a much-deserved recognition of the important work that union delegates carry out.

“In short, what we are seeing is the reversal of much of National’s damaging industrial relations policies, along with some exciting new initiatives.”

However, E tū is disappointed that 90-day trial periods could remain for employers with 20 or fewer workers.

“There isn’t a majority in parliament in support of scrapping the 90-day ‘fire at will’ law in its entirety, which is disappointing,” Bill says.

“This is the nature of a coalition government under MMP. It’s now our task, as part of the wider labour movement, to improve this part of the bill.

“We’ll be there at select committees to explain why any ‘fire at will’ law is both unfair and unnecessary.”

ENDS

Bill Newson will be available for media interviews this afternoon.

For more information or comment:
Bill Newson – 027 538 4246

 

Parliament’s cleaners and caterers win the Living Wage

The cleaners and caterers that keep parliament tidy and healthy are going to be paid the official Living Wage by 2020.

Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard made the announcement yesterday, to a gathering of E tū  members and Living Wage community representatives.

Mr Mallard announced that catering staff would be paid the official Living Wage (currently $20.20) from July 2019, and cleaners would follow by the beginning of 2020.

There will also be steps towards the Living Wage, with both cleaners and caterers having a pay rise of half the difference between their current rate and the Living Wage in July next year.

Jan Logie from the Green Party and Tracey Martin from NZ First spoke in support of the decision.

Parliamentary cleaner and E tū member Eseta Ailaoa also spoke at the event, explaining that the wage will allow her to do things that weren’t possible before.

“This will make a difference. I will be able to save so money for myself and my kids to go on holiday,” Eseta said.

Free industry training will promote trades

The Government’s policy of a year’s free tertiary education for eligible students will benefit workers and business alike, says E tū.

Of the 80,000 students forecast to take up the offer next year, 50,000 are expected to enrol in NZQA accredited industry training.

In the case of industry training, eligible students will enjoy two years fee free.

“There are currently about 11,000 construction apprentices but there’s a need for another 40,000 workers over the next five years,” says E tū’s Industry Coordinator, Engineering and Infrastructure, Ron Angel.

“We should have begun training five years ago, but the next best time to start is right now, so this will certainly provide a boost for the relevant Industry Training Organisations to promote apprenticeships,” he says.

“This is an opportunity for more firms to take that jump and say, ‘yeah, I’m taking on an apprentice’, and having a go at it.”

Ron says the policy will also sit well alongside the Government’s focus on forestry and regional development.

“There are huge opportunities in forestry and the primary sector where we can add value to workers and get highly trained, highly skilled people who know there’s a future and a career ahead of them,” he says.

Electrician and E tū Executive member, Ray Pilley says the trades have been neglected for too long and anything which promotes trades to young people is good.

“I’m an electrician and I’ve been in the industry for over 30 years. I’ve had a fantastic career. It’s well paid and you’ve got a job for life.

“The old saying is true – got a trade, got it made.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Ron Angel E tū Industry Coordinator, Engineering and Infrastructure ph. 027 591 0055

To speak to Ray Pilley, please contact:

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

 

 

E tū President “excited” by new health role

E tū congratulates President, Muriel Tunoho on her appointment to Health Minister, David Clark’s Ministerial Advisory Group.

Muriel will be joining an impressive team of highly experienced health experts including Dr Karen Poutasi, Dr Lester Levy and Professor David Tipene-Leach.

Muriel says the call from the Minister to join the group came as a complete surprise.

“My first question was, ‘Why me?’ But I think it’s because of my extensive experience working in the health sector as well as my work with the unions and workers,” says Muriel.

“That includes a clear understanding of the importance of fairness and equity in our health system.”

Muriel is the National Coordinator of Healthcare Aotearoa, which advocates for iwi and community-based primary health providers, a position she believes also influenced her selection.

“What I’m really excited about is bringing the voices of those who are struggling the most into those discussions.

“With health, there’s always such a focus on health systems and health technologies and I want to put people back at the centre of things.”

Muriel says she’s also impressed with the expertise of other advisory group members.

“I feel in safe hands. As I look at the vast experience they bring and hopefully the additional strengths I can bring, I’m feeling really optimistic and excited about this.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Muriel Tunoho President E tū ph. 027 618 5467

E tū calls on Deputy PM to abandon harassment of journalists

The journalists’ union, E tū is calling on the Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, to abandon his harassment of journalists who reported he had been overpaid New Zealand Superannuation.

Mr Peters has already gone to the High Court demanding Newshub journalist, Lloyd Burr and Newsroom co-editor, Tim Murphy provide their phone records, notes and documents related to the superannuation story which ran during the election campaign.

Newsroom reports he has now also told the High Court in Auckland he wants to be paid monetary damages by the two journalists.

E tū’s journalist representative, Brent Edwards says Mr Peters’ attacks on the journalists could have a chilling effect on New Zealand journalism.

The union is also deeply disturbed to find out that in his statement to the court, Mr Peters labelled Lloyd Burr a “National Party political activist”.

Brent says this attack is reprehensible and similar to attacks on journalists in countries like the Philippines, where press freedom and journalists’ safety is taken much less seriously by the Government there.

“As Foreign Minister, Mr Peters should uphold his obligation to support press freedom and journalists’ safety around the world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region,” says Brent.

“If Mr Peters continues to target journalists in New Zealand in an attempt to muzzle them, he does nothing for this country’s reputation abroad as a healthy democracy which values and supports press freedom.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Brent Edwards E tū journalist representative ph. 021 970 815.