Article Category: December 2017

Unionising India’s domestic workers

Every day, Senhol Mary leaves her family before dawn and walks for nearly an hour through the broken streets of the Indian city of Madurai to reach the house of the family for whom she works. She spends over half the day cleaning, doing laundry, shopping and cooking. Until recently she earned as little as 50 rupees ($1) per day for her work.

Three years ago the Tamil Nadu Labour Union (TNLU), with funding from New Zealand development charity, UnionAID, started organising Senhol Mary and other domestic workers.

Within a year, over 110 women had formed a union, elected leaders, and learned about their labour rights. The union set pay rates for different tasks such as laundry and, with the help of the TNLU, bargained with the families employing them to set new rates. As a result, pay has tripled for most union members, including Senhol Mary.

The women now earn enough to contribute to a union savings scheme, and perhaps most importantly, they also have a new sense of pride and confidence in themselves.

“After joining the union I am proud to say I can protect my rights and get the rights I deserve,” says Guruvammal, one of the union leaders.

“I feel protected in the hours I work and that I’m no longer being exploited. Now I can afford for my children to continue to study.”

UnionAID needs your support so it can continue the excellent work it does supporting projects like this in the Asia Pacific region.

Go to www.unionaid.org.nz/donate/ to become a monthly Kiwi Solidarity donor.

Migrant builders focus of research

E tū has launched a research project on the experience of migrant construction workers thanks to funding from the Industrial Relations Foundation.

The research includes a series of focus groups around the country with the first held in Christchurch on 2 December. Participants will be asked what they need from the union to meet the needs of the modern construction industry.

It’s expected that another 58,000 workers will be needed to implement the Government’s plans for huge investments in infrastructure and housing. The homegrown workforce is one source but the industry will need migrant workers as well and your union’s goal is to organise all workers and ensure we meet their needs.

The research project is welcome news for migrants like Heinrick Bratton, who says training is needed to help win the respect of industry employers.

“There is a need for migrant workers like me, who are still on a work visa, to access industry training to upskill and gain New Zealand qualifications. That will make me more confident in doing my job. It will also mean the boss cannot constantly intimidate me by saying I do not have the proper skills because I am a migrant worker, and I do not know the New Zealand standard.

“I believe the research will be an effective tool to unravel so many ideas, experiences and aspirations from us to be heard,” he says.

If you are a construction worker and would like to take part in this project, or you have friends who are migrant workers in the industry (you don’t need to be a member to be in a focus group) you can email: [email protected] or phone 0800 186 466 and ask for Mat Danaher.

E tū organising

Big pay lift at Auckland Sky City

Members at SkyCity Auckland have voted unanimously to settle their Collective Agreement, which includes big pay rises for SkyCity’s lowest paid workers.

A cleaner or food and beverage worker who started this year on $15.84 an hour will see their pay rise to $17.68 by this time next year. Those with three years’ service will enjoy a pay premium of 10 percent.

Also agreed is an increase in overtime rates to time and a half for night work on weekends and other busy periods such as Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. A working party will also work on stabilising rosters.

But negotiating team member, Michelle Crooks, says she is most proud of changing SkyCity’s system of delaying pay if staff had problems clocking in and out.

“When we have to wait up to two weeks to get a ‘no clock’ fixed, it has a big impact on our lives. We can’t pay our rent or bills,” says Michelle.

She says workers on 10 or 12-hour shifts are particularly badly affected, especially as problems with the clocking-in system can happen twice in a week. “This can halve your pay,” she says.

Most E tū members work in table games and finance, where wages are above the Living Wage, but discussion on paying the Living Wage to other workers will continue over the term of the agreement.

Other wins include a lift in pay for trades staff, and an agreement not to bring in contractors until all efforts to recruit permanent workers are exhausted. A working party will also consider more support for working families, including extended sick leave and supporting those working variable shifts.

IDEA Services update

After three intensive days of bargaining in November, IDEA Services and your union remain at odds over key claims.

The union bargaining team wants relativities restored for administration staff and senior support workers in the wake of the equal pay settlement.

Admin staff have been offered a 5 percent pay rise, but also a collective agreement expiry date of October, which reduces the value of this offer. Delegates are seeking an expiry date of 31 May 2018.

“We also believe there should be real recognition and improved pay for senior support workers,” says bargaining team member, Nic Corrigan.

Meanwhile, Nic says IDEA Services is seeking further flexibility from support workers, “which makes union involvement in reviews even more important than before.

“There is a real need to reduce stress and anxiety around the service reviews process with members receiving accurate and relevant information, so they can make informed choices. IHC also needs to take every practical step to ensure members hours are maintained or increased,” he says.

A working group has been formed in Auckland with the aim to re-set worker participation in health and safety for IDEA Services. The union/management group aims to produce a workable participation agreement with a realistic ratio of Health and Safety Representatives to workers and effective Health and Safety Committees. The group expects to report to the full bargaining team in the new year.

Cadbury closure begins

E tū is supporting members at Cadbury in Dunedin after 230 workers were given final notice that their jobs will finish by Christmas.

The notices included both permanent and seasonal workers.

Machine operator and E tū delegate, Teresa Gooch, says there has been a mixed response with some members keen to go, but there is a real sense of sadness.

“It’s been a pretty sad year all round really,” she says.

While the notices tell workers they finish on 22 December, E tū has secured agreement that workers who want to work longer can do so, if they find someone finishing up later who is prepared to swap. A number, including Teresa, are hoping to do this.

“So, at the moment, people don’t know where they’re at or whether they’ll stay for a bit longer,” says Teresa. “It’s hard to make plans with what you’re doing into the New Year until you know what your finishing date will be.”

Meanwhile, many members have completed key qualifications and training courses in preparation for job-hunting, with a mass graduation at the Dunedin Town Hall in October. Many also attended a jobs expo last month to meet local employers and explore work options.

There will be more redundancies after Christmas, with the factory closing at the end of March next year. A small number of staff will remain to decommission the plant.

Several members have also accepted jobs at the Cadbury plant in Melbourne where production in Dunedin is moving.

Cadbury workers attend a jobs expo as job
losses loom

Support New Zealand made

Your union suggests consumers consider spending their money on New Zealand made sweet treats once the Dunedin plant is closed.

“I’m all for that,” says one worker, who won’t be named as he remains at Cadbury. But he feels strongly about this issue.

“I don’t plan on buying Cadbury products once it’s closed, to be honest, because it’s just not Cadbury any more. Once the factory closes, that’s it for me, I’m afraid. Cadbury’s is done.”

There are other local sweet and chocolate makers, including unionised manufacturers such as Rainbow, RJ Licorice, and Nestlé. It’s one way to support New Zealand businesses which employ local workers who make great products.

A&G Price sold?

It’s hoped at least some jobs might be saved at A&G Price in Thames. The historic foundry was placed in voluntary liquidation earlier this year.

The liquidator has a potential buyer and hopes the sale will be concluded by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, holiday pay, wages and redundancy pay have been paid out to all members, unless they are owed more than $20,000. For these workers, the remainder of what’s owed will be paid out once a sale goes through.

The foundry continues to attract work, and about25 workers remain on site to fill those orders.

Formerly, the foundry employed about 90 people.

Summit sought on equal pay

Thousands of members have had their lives transformed by the equal pay settlement, including Gore care and support delegate, Roszanne Davidson.

Back in February, Roszanne felt overwhelmed, trying to pay medical bills and meet living costs on her low wages. “Things back then were pretty grim,” she says.

Today, the settlement means Roszanne earns $23.50 an hour.

“What a blessing!” she says. “I can actually pay to go to the doctor’s without charging it and causing another horrendous bill. I can get my eyes checked – I haven’t done that in six years!

And the difference for my co-workers – it’s amazing!” says Roszanne.

“They can afford to go to medical appointments. They can afford to eat a decent meal.”

But your union is also dealing with members who have lost hours, amid claims by aged care providers that the settlement is under-funded.

Unions were not included in talks about the funding, but it appears to penalise facilities where occupancy rates fall below 97 percent, which is most smaller, independent rest homes. Reports suggest other providers will make million dollar-plus surpluses.

E tū has called for a care and support industry summit to address these issues. E tū’s Women’s Committee Convenor, Marianne Bishop, says any funding issues must be resolved.

“It’s not good for the elderly or the disabled if equal pay isn’t funded properly and people are going to have to close down facilities, or undermine the process by reducing hours and making people work harder,” says Marianne.

“If we work together we’re going to get there more quickly. That’s how we got where we are, by working with other unions and people outside the unions.”

Your union is also opposing a move by Dementia NZ homes to introduce the role of Home Assistant which pays near minimum wage rates.

Marianne says she was hired as a Home Assistant 20 years ago and she doubts care homes will be able to separate the position from caregiving.

“As a Home Assistant I did caregiving work, so that’s a cop out,” she says.

Meanwhile, Roszanne is saving up to redo her kitchen, which wouldn’t have been possible on her old pay rate.

“We can’t afford any extras. It’s still a struggle,” she says. “But it’s doable. Before pay equity, it was definitely not doable at all. So, it’s made a huge difference to my life.”

Gore delegate, Roszanne Davidson

Union grows at Sistema

Tough working conditions and low pay are helping grow membership at plastics company, Sistema, where members say it’s time they earned a
Living Wage.

The Government has promised improved rights of access to workplaces for union organisers and Sistema members are hoping this will help them win shorter hours and higher pay.

‘We need more access to the company and we need more time to have meetings,” says one member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Membership has surged to 130 members since the company’s sale to United States corporate giant, Newell Brands, for $660 million.

But workers still earn only the minimum wage for a compulsory 60-hour working week. Workers have long complained about fatigue and injuries caused by 12-hour shifts on their feet, working at a relentless pace.

Union pressure last year saw Sistema offer workers the option of shorter hours, but our member says this is never authorised: “People ask for day shift, 9 to 5, but they are not giving it to them.”

Workers are seeking a better wage deal at the current negotiations, and the member says people continue to join because they hope that by being collective they will be able to win what they deserve.

Win in LSG Sky Chefs case

In a major victory, E tū has won its Employment Court case against global airline catering company, LSG Sky Chefs for its exploitative use of local labour hire workers.

LSG has a near monopoly on airline catering in New Zealand.

E tū took the case on behalf of LSG workers, Kamlesh Prasad and Liutofaga Tulai, who were hired through labour hire firm, Solutions Personnel, also trading as Blue Collar Limited.

The union argued the workers’ real employer is LSG Sky Chefs, not the labour hire company, and the Employment Court agreed.

The court recognised the vulnerability of workers like Liutofaga and Kamlesh, exposing their pay and conditions including Liutofaga’s working week of up to 62 hours. It noted at one point she worked 34 full days of work without a day off.

“I’m feeling grateful and happy,” says Liutofaga. “I am thanking God and E tū for supporting me to go ahead!”

Both worked for years for minimum wage or just above, with no holiday, sick leave or Kiwisaver entitlements, and they had to pay their own ACC cover.

Liutofaga who worked for LSG for six years before losing her job will be eligible for backpay, as will Kamlesh whom the court has ruled is an LSG employee.

“I am feeling good we won the case, and about the backpay. I have paid double IRD, double ACC, double everything,” says Kamlesh.

As a union member, Kamlesh will also be entitled to the superior pay and conditions included in the LSG Collective Agreement for directly employed workers.

E tū is now calling on the airline catering industry to get rid of labour hire completely and for all major airlines to take responsibility for labour practices in its supply chain.

LSG litigants Liutofaga Tulai (third from left) and Kamlesh Prasad (far right) with witnesses

Living Wage

Living Wage focus for Government workers

It was a very special gathering as Living Wage supporters rallied outside parliament on the first day of the new Government, as part of events to mark Living Wage Week.

Government MPs mingled with the crowd as speakers celebrated the Government’s commitment to pay the Living Wage to directly employed public servants as well as workers contracted to the public service.

E tū member, Avei Toaitiiti, spoke about the high cost of her low pay and long hours working as a contract security guard at the Reserve Bank for just over $16 an hour.

“Minimum wage for me is going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark,” she said.

“As a parent, it’s heart-breaking when your child comes up and tells you she hardly sees you anymore because of your long working hours.

“The Living Wage for me would mean fewer hours working and more time with my family, with my daughter and loved ones. The Living Wage means being able to meet my necessities and to have leisure time.”

Parliamentary contract cleaner, Eseta Ailao who was also at the rally works long hours on low pay.

“I work two jobs,” says Eseta. “I start at 6 in the evening, finish at 10. After that, I come to parliament, start at 12 and finish at 6 in the morning. It’s hard.”

The good news is, the Government has said parliamentary contract cleaners will get the Living Wage before the end of 2019.

Avei told the rally workers like herself would be supporting the Government to do the right thing and honour its Living Wage pledge: “As our lovely Prime Minister would say, ‘Let’s do this!’”

A cheer also went up for Tamati Coffey, owner of the Ponsonby Road Lounge Bar in Rotorua, and Jo Luxton of Headstart Early Learning Centre in Hinds. Both are now Labour MPs and the first Living Wage Employers to enter parliament.

Vector first Living Wage corporate

Power company Vector has become the first big corporate to join the Living Wage Employer Accreditation programme.

This is a great endorsement of the programme and your union hopes Vector’s participation will lift the profile of the Living Wage within the power sector and among other corporates.

Vector pays its directly employed staff well above Living Wage rates. But it has also committed to paying its contract cleaning staff the Living Wage when the contract comes up for renewal next year.

E tū’s Convenor of the Communications Industry Council, Remi Emery, has welcomed the move which he says will set an example for other asset owners and encourage them to follow suit.

“Vector is paying the Living Wage. All its many contractors need to do the same,” he says.

Vector is already speaking with its supply companies about this.

Health and safety

Hope at last for Pike River families

Pike River families and supporters have marked the 7th anniversary of the Pike River mine disaster, buoyed by a Government agreement to a safe, manned re-entry of the mine drift.

At this year’s commemoration of the disaster, in a symbolic gesture, the Minister for Pike River Re-entry, Andrew Little, handed the families the keys to the locks of the gates blocking access to the mine.

The Government’s commitment is the culmination of the families’ campaign for re-entry of the drift to allow the remains of their loved ones to be retrieved as well as any evidence of what caused the disaster.

The Convenor of E tū’s Energy and Mining Industry Council, Justin Wallace, who attended the event says the mood was emotional but positive.

“This Government is really keen on having a look at a really safe and effective way of gaining re-entry, making sure the families are involved in that process, giving them information and keeping them in the loop and trying to get some answers, as well as closure,” says Justin.

“They all agree Andrew’s an upfront guy and he’s taken it as a personal challenge to make sure this is done properly.”

In that same week, the Supreme Court ruled the then Department of Labour’s decision (now MBIE) not to prosecute former Pike River boss, Peter Whittall, in exchange for more than $3 million in payments to the Pike River families was unlawful. This has established a precedent that justice cannot be bought, which Worksafe says will help strengthen workplace health and safety.

Justin says in the aftermath of the disaster, miners are now more vigilant about safety and determined to prevent another disaster.

Call backed for national Erebus memorial

E tū is backing calls for a national memorial to New Zealand’s biggest aviation disaster.

In 1979, an Air New Zealand scenic flight over Antarctica crashed into Mt Erebus killing all 257 passengers including 20 crew.

The Erebus families want a memorial with the names of all who perished, in time for the 40th anniversary of the tragedy in 2019.

The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is also strongly in favour.

“A national memorial would be a place where the families and the public could reflect on the tragedy,” says E tū’s Head of Aviation, Anita Rosentreter.

“It would serve as a powerful reminder that safety in the aviation industry is paramount,” she says.

Wreaths at the Auckland Airport Erebus crew memorial

Delegate’s love of learning

E tū delegate and print finisher, Lucky Sullivan, has been a union member at Wellington firm, Printlink for 19 years, ever since the union organiser urged him to join, saying the union would look out for him.

Sure enough, the union came through: “I joined when I was a casual and they actually got me a permanent job and I’m still here now.”

Now as the delegate, Lucky’s doing the recruiting: “You have to – to try and get our numbers up,”
he says.

Curiosity about the role of a delegate prompted him to put his name forward eight years ago: “I wanted to know what they did and I wanted to do something to help our workers,” he says.

Within a fortnight, he was involved in a disciplinary and typically gets called to represent workers about twice a month. Lucky says it’s hard work, but very rewarding and he’s discovered he loves industrial law.

“I like to help people, for example, people who can’t speak English properly – we have a few workers like that here. When they go into meetings, I make sure they understand what’s happening and get help if they need it and they’re really grateful. And I really like that.”

At Printlink, half the workforce are union members and some of Lucky’s workmates have queried the value of unions. “I say to them, join the union, they stand for us. If stuff happens, the union’s got your back.”

More recently, the union has helped negotiate redundancy, retraining and redeployment clauses in the employment agreement at Printlink, as digital printing technology reshapes jobs and, indeed, the whole print industry. Lucky is well aware of the implications.

“With offset printing, you need two people and now with digital, you only need one person. It’s less labour and the work’s a lot faster. We’ve got a lot of new digital equipment coming in and you only need half the staff.

“So, it’s in our contract. If you’re made redundant, the company will help you retrain, for example, to get your truck license. Because there’s not much work in our trade anymore.”

As Lucky looks to the future, he is considering putting his delegate leadership skills and training to good use and studying employment law. He says there’s no doubt his union work has given him valued experience and confidence: “It’s helped me quite a lot and I do recommend people take the training that’s there.

“I enjoy the law stuff, just learning more about what our rights are, and I thought about putting more study into it, and if I finish here, I might carry on with employment law.”

Meanwhile, Lucky is celebrating the election of a Labour-led Government. “We needed it because of all the laws National brought in, they weren’t for the workers. They were for the bosses, so we needed a change because we were pretty much getting smashed really.”

He says politics is now a hot topic on smoko breaks. His workmates who voted National last time all voted Labour this time around, so there’s been a clear change of attitude.

Lucky has also earned a position as a trusted union voice in his workplace.

“I trust the union and my workers trust me. They trust me because I’m still in the union and they trust what I tell them. They come and ask me about it and you just wait until that moment when they join and make us stronger.”

Spotlight on security

E tū training “awesome” say security guards

A group of Wellington security guards has signed up for an E tū pilot programme offering Level 2 qualifications training – and it won’t cost them a cent.

The tuition fee is normally $1,500 but the union is paying the bill for the seven participants. Funding to extend the programme has been provided by the private training company, Skills4work, with scholarships available for Wellington security guards next year. If successful, the programme will be rolled out in Auckland in 2019 and in Christchurch in 2020.

The project is part of a union strategy to improve the pay and conditions of security guards.

“It’s an awesome thing,” says delegate, Kit Bennett.

“It’s actually something I’ve been researching myself, going through the net, making phone calls, trying to find out how I can do Level 2 myself, but it’s really expensive and I can’t afford it. And the training itself is hard to find, so it’s great. I’m really happy to be here and I’m really happy to be selected.”

Kit, who earns the minimum wage, hopes the qualification will help lift her pay, and also the mana of security guards: “That’s something that really needs to happen, that people start acknowledging security guards more,” she says.

Delegate Tiso Panapa says the security industry generally won’t train its guards, which is a risk for clients and the guards themselves.

“The union has gone out of its way to ensure members are well-trained in this industry, and thanks to the union we have this opportunity to upskill ourselves. It’ll make things safer on the job site.”

Programme trainee, Mohamad El Sayed Ahmad agrees.

“What I learn here is to do the work properly, to come back home safe, and to keep the site safe – me, my colleagues and everyone who is working there,” he says.

E tū embraces Fair Pay Agreements

E tū is committed to working to secure minimum industry standards for security guards through a Fair Pay Agreement (FPA).

The Government is promoting FPAs as the best way to improve wages and provide minimum working standards especially in low-paid industries such as cleaning, laundry, catering and security.

Employers demonise FPAs as ushering in an era of strikes but in fact the Government has specifically ruled out industry-wide strikes. FPAs simply set basic conditions across industries, which apply to all workers. This would effectively deal with firms that win contracts through rock bottom pay, thus driving down pay and conditions for everyone.

“I think we need it so all our guards are treated the same, not any more, not any less,” says security guard, Kit Bennett.

“It doesn’t matter what company you work for, an industry has to have a standard and I mean a standard they have to pay for, whether it’s a Level 2 or Level 3 qualification.”

Equal pay settlement for mental health workers!

The equal pay settlement is to be extended to include mental health support and addiction workers!

Originally these workers were excluded – a problem that our new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, promised on the campaign trail to put right.

She’s been as good as her word, to the delight of equal pay claimant, Sandra Rawenata, who anticipates a pay rise of $3 an hour.

“Oh my God, it’s amazing!” she says. “I can look forward to Christmas and having a decent celebration. I’m so excited!”

Also celebrating is fellow claimant, Sharyn Corneal, who is on $18.76 an hour, despite impressive qualifications.

“That’s great news,” says Sharyn. “It affects a lot of people and it’s good to finally be on the same playing field.”

“I just think it’s amazing, it’s wonderful news,” says Napier delegate, Huia Broughton.

“Finally, the wait is over. It’s just a real weight off my shoulders, really, it couldn’t have come at a better time. It’ll take time to process but it’s going to make a big difference to my family.”

Huia earns just $18.35 despite Level 6 qualifications and a diploma.

She says those low rates of pay have been “embarrassing” for her employers, too, who value
the workforce, and she is aware of their work in pushing for a settlement.

There is also hope the settlement will help stem the loss of community mental health workers to better paid jobs in care and support.

“It might induce more people to come into mental health. Because at the moment, if people like the job, when they hear the low pay, they just don’t accept the job,” says Sharyn.

Once the settlement is ratified by mental health and addiction workers, the equal pay case lodged by E tū and the PSA earlier this year will be withdrawn.

Off the beaten track

As a campaigning and organising union, we report and celebrate the big things we do and achieve in this magazine throughout the year. However, there are a few cool things that our members are up to that you might have missed – here’s a snapshot of what makes our union and our people unique.

Kristine Bartlett is NEXT Magazine’s Woman of the Year

Our equal pay hero, caregiver Kristine Bartlett, has been recognised across the country for her tireless work to win an equal pay settlement for care and support workers. A highlight for her this year was being anointed NEXT Magazine’s Woman of the Year, taking out both the Community category and the Supreme Award.

“It was a very humbling experience, and a very special night for us all. If it wasn’t for E tū, the thousands of supporters, and everyone else, I wouldn’t have received the award. So, a big thanks to my union,” Kristine says.

“This journey has been a highlight of my life. But it’s just what we had to do.”

Kristine Bartlett accepts the Supreme Award at NEXT Magazine’s Woman of the Year event

Defending journalists’ safety and freedom

E tū has continued to fight for journalists’ safety and press freedom. In October, E tū member Brent Edwards attended an International Federation of Journalists workshop in Vanuatu, as a representative from the E tū Communications Industry Council.

“The workshop brought together journalist union members from Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea,
New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand,” Brent says.

“We have set up a Pacific Media Network and organised campaigns to promote press freedom, safeguard journalists’ rights, lobby for freedom of information laws and combat sexual harassment
and violence in newsrooms throughout the region.”

E tū proud to support the White Ribbon campaign

E tū is a proud supporter of International White Ribbon Day, marked every 25 November. It opposes violence against women and promotes respectful relationships. Men are asked to wear the white ribbon to show their support for the campaign and to encourage all to speak out when they see or suspect domestic violence.

This year we have made a modest donation to the campaign and our support will ramp up next year, with the White Ribbon Trust expressing their greatest appreciation for the way E tū spreads the White Ribbon message.

Workers at NZ Steel support the White Ribbon message

Member Organiser pilot programme a huge success

E tū has been running a Member Organiser pilot in Auckland to test a programme that will be rolled out next year. Member Organisers receive training and support to build their organising skills in their workplace and beyond. Etevise Ioane, who works at Enliven, has participated in the programme this year and found the experience highly engaging and rewarding.

“I am really enjoying learning new skills like planning, organising, and computer skills. The programme has also helped build my confidence and knowledge about being a unionist and my responsibility to fight for social justice, both at work and in the community.”

Etevise Ioane and Ainise Toupili are both enjoying the Member Organiser programme

Marja Lubeck elected to Parliament

Marja Lubeck, former head of E tū Aviation, has entered parliament as a Labour Party list MP! She is one of many E tū members in parliament. While it’s a huge change for her, she knows that she’ll be able to use the opportunity to continue her work for working people, and to promote unionism.

“Some people in politics have a silly view on unions. I want to tell them that unions are just people, with good hearts, who feel for other people and want to make things better,” Marja says.

“I’m really excited to be on the Education and Workforce Select Committee which will be dealing with the employment law changes. We have some huge and positive changes coming, and I can see that happening very fast. I’m also looking forward to reconvening the Union Caucus within Labour, and lots of my colleagues are really keen to be a part of it.

“We’re all riding the wave of optimism with this change of Government, and there’s a lot to be excited about!”

Labour list MP, Marja Lubeck

E tū expands: new Bay of Plenty office in Tauranga

We’re pleased to announce that we have opened another office! Our Tauranga office is a warm and welcoming space for union members and local activists to congregate. Merianne Porter, a home support delegate, really enjoyed the launch.

“The launch has been fabulous. It’s an awesome office, relaxing and very welcoming. It’s going to be a great advantage to have a local office in Tauranga, allowing us to have better contact with our organisers and giving us members and delegates a great meeting space,” Merianne says.

Labour list MP, Marja Lubeck

Hope after change of Government

Our members have shared their feeling of hope with us in the wake of a change of Government, to a Labour-led coalition with NZ First, and with the Greens as a support party.

Many of our members have struggled with low pay and poor working conditions under the previous nine years of a National-led Government with people working harder and longer than ever to make ends meet.

Now there is hope of better things from this new Government, which rejects the low-wage economy promoted by National since slashing benefits and union rights in 1991.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made this commitment to trade unionists at this year’s biennial CTU conference:

“We will build a better New Zealand – with decent homes for all, with the schools and hospitals we need, with an environment we can cherish, and with decent, well-paying work for our people – and we will build it together.

“Let’s do this!”

It’s also worth repeating the words of the Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, as he announced he was choosing a coalition Government with Labour.

“… far too many New Zealanders have come to view today’s capitalism not as their friend but as their foe and they are not all wrong.”