Month: August 2019

Big pay rises as Sanford workers ratify new pay deal

E tū members at Sanford Bluff are celebrating big pay rises after they voted unanimously to accept the company’s pay offer following wage bargaining last week.

The deal means 98% of Sanford Bluff workers will be earning the Living Wage or above, through a mix of higher wages as well as allowances.

Many workers were earning the minimum wage of $17.70. Including allowances, their pay will increase to the Living Wage of $21.15. Others will earn $22.36 an hour which is above the Living Wage.

The deal is backdated to 15 June. Workers who lost their jobs after restructuring at the plant will also receive backpay at the new rates up to their last day of employment.

“This is a fantastic victory for our members who have campaigned together with the Bluff community for the Living Wage for Bluff workers,” says Anna Huffstutler, E tū organiser and advocate.

“Sanford isn’t yet a Living Wage Employer so it’s not exactly where we want to be, but we have made a vital first step towards the Living Wage for our members and a significant move towards addressing low wages at Bluff,” she says.

Anna says the term is one year.

“That means we can come back next year and have a good shot at the Living Wage as a starting rate for all members.”

Sanford Bluff delegate, Linda Bevin says members are delighted with the pay increases.

However, she says Sanford is not yet an accredited Living Wage Employer, “so there is still work to do.”

ENDS

For more information, contact Anna Huffstutler E tū organiser and advocate ph. 027 209 7436

Anna will be able to provide members to speak for interested media.

E tū calls on the PM to do more for equal pay

E tū joins the Council of Trade Unions and others in calling on the Prime Minister to make fixing a gender pay imbalance more of a priority.

Statistics released today reveal that the ‘gender pay gap’ has decreased slightly since last year, demonstrating both some good progress and remaining room for improvement.

Wellington caregiver Marianne Bishop knows that E tū members like herself and Kristine Bartlett winning the Care and Support Pay Equity Settlement has made a lot of difference, but there’s more work to do.

“Our equal pay win has helped us progress, but now we need the government to fix the Equal Pay Act so that it’s easier for other claims to be processed,” Marianne says.

“We need to reduce the gap even further, and we need everyone working together to make this happen.” 

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says that the Prime Minister has been a great supporter of the equal pay campaign for years and now can make a huge difference.

“It’s been great to have to support of the Prime Minister and the coalition government parties at many crucial points in our fight for equal pay,” Annie says.

“We now need to see her take that to the next step, by making a personal commitment to fixing the problematic Equal Pay Amendment Bill.”

ENDS

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

Unions are calling on Kiwis to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, which outlines what needs to happen from here: http://www.together.org.nz/jacinda-you-can

1) The law shouldn’t delay access to the courts when bargaining doesn’t go well.

2) The law should give more support to sector-wide equal pay settlements, compared to settlements that go employer-by-employer.

3) The law needs to follow existing rules about collective bargaining – not add new ones.

4) The law should support a process where equal pay settlements can be checked to make sure they are up to scratch.

5) The law shouldn’t make women who already have equal pay claims in progress go back to the beginning and start again.  

Time

by Sean Hindson

We have time, right now – we all have time. I say this because we have time in the form of the moment we are in together; right now.

It’s is the ‘right now’ that we all share, regardless of our beliefs, our fears, our worries, our hopes, or our views on the world.

We can take this ‘right now’ to acknowledge that we are vulnerable, acknowledge that we have made mistakes, acknowledge that we have to (not need to) but have to come together.

The planet we belong to is screaming at us, demanding change. It is showing us through fires, typhoons, floods, and storms that we have to change. The planet is demanding change, it’s demanding it because it too is vulnerable.

Being vulnerable, as we and the planet are, is the catalyst for change.

I have been in discussion with people who deny the fact the world is changing. I have had the ‘what ifs’ thrust upon me. I have had my conversations cut short by those people who refuse to acknowledge the absolute certainty that the impact of humans has transformed our earth.

These people seem to be strong now, but are essentially oblivious to the change that is required by us all to enhance the lives of the generations of youth to whom we will entrust this earth.

Those of us aware of our collective vulnerability are already forging greater change, fighting by looking inwards and having an awareness of the fear we all have, shifting the way we think and allowing ourselves the courage to think differently

Take a moment to think about the courage it takes – undiluted courage – to know that vulnerability is a strength.

The first steps are already being taken around the world. In New Zealand, the Just Transition is to my mind, an acknowledgment of that vulnerability which can be such a strength.

So where do workers and people tie into this? They are at the core, the foundation. Workers are the ones who will essentially have the power to change these mindsets.

We have to change ourselves. It is painful to look in the mirror, acknowledge our faults, and be true to ourselves and each other.

Workers mostly have more to worry about than the long-term future. When we work together, truly work together, to shift those mind sets, to force change in those businesses that do not allow workers to have standards of living that afford them the ability to think compassionately about more than just the immediate future… then we shift the world.

In essence that is the key.

Workers in our regions should be in a position where they can think about the long-term future while acknowledging and appreciating the moment they are in.

This ability comes with equal standards of pay, training, and that most precious of assets… time. Time to share moments with community, family and friends. Time to converse and be open with those that surround you.

I personally reckon we have known this for a very long time. My question is: why has it taken so long for businesses to allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to care in a truly honest and deep way?

After all, time marches on for businesses, too. No one is exempt from the effects of what we are doing to ourselves and our environments, because our environments are, in the end, ourselves.

Cloud Ocean job losses “disappointing” says E tū

E tū, the union at Cloud Ocean, says it met today with site management and its union delegates to discuss the company proposal to lay off 125 of the 160 strong work force.

E tū Industry Coordinator (Manufacturing & Food), Phil Knight says the company has been difficult to work with but it’s disappointing things have come to this.

“This is hard news for the workers, and we will be talking with our members about a response to the proposal, and doubtless seeking compensation for the loss of their jobs and income, as well as commitments around re-employment should the plant resume operations,” says Phil.

He says he’s hopeful most workers will find jobs in the event the plant shuts down.

“They’re good workers and any of the businesses crying out for people with a good work ethic and production skills would benefit from offering them employment.”

Phil says the union has no view on the controversy surrounding the company’s use of water from the local aquifer.

“The thing for us is whether they’ve been a fair and reasonable employer and contributed to the Christchurch economy, and the fact is they haven’t,” says Phil.

“These are permanent workers on pretty much minimum wages and conditions, and the work is precarious – they’ve faced constant changes of shift and shift cancellations at short notice.

“It’s had a high turnover because of the very poor conditions,” he says.

Phil says the company seems to have been disorganised from the start.

“There appears to have been little due diligence to ensure they had a market to supply, to as well as what’s required to run a business in New Zealand. They’ve been applying practices that may be commonplace in China but not acceptable in New Zealand.”

Phil says that includes constant breaches of health and safety, basic employment conditions and Holiday Act provisions.

Phil acknowledged few in Canterbury will be sad to hear the plant is likely to close.

“Besides wages, Cloud Ocean has contributed little to Christchurch, with materials including the plastic bottles, boxes and equipment all imported from overseas.

“But there is an opportunity to at least ensure any worker losing their job through this is treated right, and to look after staff properly if they do get production underway again.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Phil Knight E tū Industry Coordinator (Manufacturing & Food) ph. 027 591 0053

E tū urges NZTA to lift funding for VTNZ

E tū has written to Mark Ratcliffe, the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Transport Agency, urging the Agency to improve funding for VTNZ so its workers can be fairly paid.

VTNZ driving test and vehicle testing officials took strike action on Monday for 24 hours in protest over their pay.

The driving test officials earn between $21.00 and $22.50, which members say doesn’t reflect their skills and experience, nor the on the job hazards. Vehicle testing officials also earn below the industry standard.

E tū Lead Organiser, Dayna Townsend says driving test officials have been trying to improve their basic pay scale since 2014 when NZTA awarded the driver testing contract to VTNZ.

Before then, Dayna says the AA had the contract “and the starting rate for driving testers was higher then than the highest paid rate for them now. As well as the higher pay, they had allowances which also boosted their pay.

“Vehicle testers are also at the bottom of the mechanics scale.

“NZTA funding for VTNZ is too low to ensure these workers are fairly paid,” says Dayna.

“This is a huge problem for our members wherever services are contracted out to private companies. Typically, government agencies chose the lowest tender and it is workers who pay the price for that, through low pay.”

Dayna says NZTA has been asked to increase the funding for VTNZ so it can lift pay rates to a more realistic level.

“These are government workers, doing the government’s job of keeping people safe on the roads. They should be fairly paid and that means paying contractors enough to ensure that happens,” she says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Dayna Townsend E tū Lead Organiser ph. 027 590 0070

VTNZ workers to strike over low pay

VTNZ driving test and vehicle testing officials will take strike action for 24 hours on Monday 5 August, in protest over their poor pay.

The strike takes effect just after midnight (12.01am) tonight nationwide.  

E tū advocate, Sunny Sehgal says E tū’s VTNZ driver testing members are qualified professionals who do a dangerous job, but that’s not reflected in their wages.

“The pay is between $21.00 and $22.50 an hour, which may look good to some people, but it’s a skilful job. And it’s hazardous. They are in a car with people who may not be competent to drive,” he says.

Since 2014, VTNZ has been run by German company Dekra, which members say has consistently resisted improving their pay scales.   

E tū member, Harun Ali says he’s a trained and qualified professional who has to manage multiple risks on the job “but the pay doesn’t recognise that.

 “I have a passion for this job. It’s something I love to do, but it’s risky,” says Harun, who has 14 years of experience as a driver testing official.  

“Drivers are often poorly prepared. There are a lot of accidents and a lot of us are being hurt. We face people who come out of jail, who are very threatening.

“We’ve been chased around the cars, bullied and threatened. A lot of times we end up calling the cops.”

Sunny says VTNZ mechanics are also qualified tradesmen whose pay rates are well below the industry standard.

Mediation has failed to resolve the dispute, leaving members little choice but to walk off the job, he said.

“Members are only asking for a fair increase to their wages to properly value their work and to cover the growing costs of housing, fuel and food.”

ENDS

The members will be picketing on Monday morning.

Where: Sylvia Park VTNZ site, 5 Sylvia Park Road, Mount Wellington, Auckland

When: from 8am-midday.

For further information, contact:

Sunny Sehgal E tū organiser ph. 027 590 0075

We can provide contact details for Harun for interested media.

Union to consider industry training changes

The following statement by E tū National Secretary, Bill Newson is in response to the industry changes related to polytechnics and on the job training announced today.

“The changes proposed today are significant for working people.

“Industry training is important for working people as life-long employment and income security depends on the ability to continually develop skills at work and have those skills recognised across industry. Training at work while in employment – ‘earning while you learn’ – is important for working people especially those who can’t afford to rack up a big student debt.

“Today’s announcement is complex, the devil is in the detail and we will be reviewing the proposals carefully.  Providing an industry voice through Workforce Development Councils is good, as is the transitionary approach to change.  However, E tū’s concern is that on the job training is not compromised over time to shore up Polytechnic viability.  We will be taking the time to assess the changes carefully.”