Category: Politics

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.

 

E tū Aviation welcomes new Government’s rejection of low wage economy

E tū Aviation has welcomed the new Prime Minister’s call for productive relationships between business and workers, and an end to low pay and its negative economic effects.

In her speech to the Council of Trade Unions yesterday, Jacinda Ardern praised the High-Performance Engagement agreement which E tū and other unions have with Air New Zealand.

“That agreement means business and unions sit down together and help each other with their problems and the results speak for themselves,” says E tū’s Head of Aviation, Kelvin Ellis.

“Working together has saved jobs, ensured good pay and conditions and helped transform Air New Zealand into one of the world’s most successful and profitable airlines.

“The new Government has clearly drawn the lesson that working together benefits all parties, and we’re delighted with its support for this model.”

Kelvin has also welcomed Ms Ardern’s rejection of the low-wage approach of many employers which actually erodes productivity.

“Ms Ardern has correctly made the link between an engaged, well-paid workforce and Air New Zealand’s strong financial position.

“We fully support her message on this: that low wages aren’t simply a problem for low-wage workers, they are a problem for businesses and the economy as a whole.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Kelvin Ellis Head of E tū Aviation ph. 027 598 5735

 

 

 

E tū ecstatic as we welcome a Labour-led Government

E tū says it is ecstatic after confirmation tonight that E tū member Jacinda Ardern is our next Prime Minister.

E tū is the country’s biggest private sector union, with more than 55,000 members, and is a Labour Party affiliate.

E tū Assistant National Secretary, John Ryall says our members will be celebrating tonight, in expectation of a better deal for working families.

“Our members supported change; they have campaigned for change, and they voted for change and they will be ecstatic about this outcome.

“Our members made a huge commitment to this election campaign, in workplaces, in their communities, and in their families; talking to their workmates, hitting the phones to promote change and pounding the streets getting out the vote.

“Tonight’s vote is a vindication of that effort and the values behind it – a fair deal for working people and a fairer distribution of the country’s wealth.”

John also noted Winston Peters’ acknowledgement that New Zealanders voted for change, and says E tū supports the NZ First leader’s assertion that today “the country has the change it needs”.

E tū also campaigned for the Green Party and John says he is looking forward to learning the details of the agreements between the three parties; Labour, the Green Party, and New Zealand First.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

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

At least 61 seats in the House for transformative politics

Even before the Special Votes have been counted, there is a majority in the house for real change in New Zealand politics.

While the election result on Saturday night didn’t deliver an outright majority for a change of Government, a majority of New Zealanders voted against a status quo that has seen the rich get richer while living standards for the rest of us stagnate or decline.

There are many policies and positions that Labour, the Greens, and New Zealand First are proud to fight for. They include:

  • a significant rise in the minimum wage
  • a commitment to pay the Living Wage to workers in all core public services including those employed by contractors
  • the rejection of the National Party’s pay equity bill which would make it harder for women to take equal pay claims
  • 26 weeks paid parental leave
  • better access to education for young people and people who need to retrain in a changing world of work
  • opposition to asset sales
  • making sure that trade agreements do not restrict our sovereignty
  • stopping the exploitation of migrant workers which creates a ‘race to the bottom’ in wages and conditions as a competitive advantage for employers
  • ending the casualisation of our workforce which allows employers to exploit vulnerable workers
  • ending the discriminatory ‘starting out wage’ which allows bosses to underpay young workers even if they have the same responsibilities as others
  • revitalising our regions through proper economic development and improved infrastructure.

We now wait upon New Zealand First leader Winston Peters to decide to move the country forwards, not backwards, for working people and our communities. Mr Peters ran a clear campaign for change and we hope he will honour the voters who put their faith in him to make the right decision for New Zealand.