Article Category: September 2018

Our digital union

Join online!

New E tū members can now join online with just a few clicks! This is the easiest way to make sure that all your colleagues join the union. No more paper forms and envelopes – direct people to www.etu.nz/join and play your part in growing our union!

My E tū

My E tū allows you to update your personal information, set your communication preferences and edit other personal details. The site hosts E tū news so you can find information on what’s happening in your union. Members are also able to view their collective agreements, request a chat with Union Support, register interest for training courses through the portal, and a whole lot more!

Have you visited the members-only website yet? Logging in is easy:

  • Click ‘member login’ at the top right of www.etu.nz or go to www.members.etu.nz.
  • Have your membership number ready, which can be found on your membership card. If you don’t have that handy please call Union Support on 0800 1 UNION (0800 186 466).
  • Follow the instructions to set your password.

Then you are in!

Delegate Portal

E tū’s digital capabilities have taken another leap forward this month. We are very excited to announce the launch of Delegate Portal, where delegates are given the digital tools to organise their workplaces easily and effectively.

To log into the Delegate Portal, simply log into My E tū using the instructions on this page and click the ‘Delegate’ button at the top right of the screen.

From here, delegates can:

  • access E tū documents and information specially developed for our delegates
  • access relevant articles and learning opportunities
  • access your bargaining documents
  • connect with other members and share information in real time
  • easily update membership details and communication preferences
  • see the details about your members on your site, who left our union, a new member on your site, correct your members’ data
  • add a new member utilising online joining
  • see the current collective agreement and historic data related to bargaining
  • order E tū clothing
  • access the organising tools specially created for delegates
  • access all industry news and documents
  • access many health and safety documents
  • communicate with Union Support or your organiser.

Report reveals migrant exploitation

Pay discrimination and poor housing are critical issues revealed in a report commissioned by E tū on the plight of migrant workers.

The report, entitled Migrant Filipino Workers in the Construction Industry, was launched at events in Auckland and Christchurch late last month.

Funded by the Industrial Relations Fund, the research records the experiences of migrants, mostly Filipino construction workers in Christchurch and Auckland in 2017 and 2018.

The average wage in construction is $29.00 – not one of the migrants interviewed was paid this, with some paid as little as $19.00 an hour.

“They are international workers with a lot of skill and experience,” said one migrant. “They have no other choice but just to grab it.”

The report reveals the workers were often placed in overpriced, over-crowded and unhealthy housing. In one case, up to 20 workers shared a four-bedroom house.

Many were being gouged by immigration companies, while most said their pay was too low to qualify for extended or permanent working visas or residency.

The report recommends Government action to close the pay gap, to ensure adequate housing for migrants, and to examine the problems they face with visas and immigration processes.

E tū organising

Strike at Pacific Steel

Workers at Bluescope Pacific Steel walked off the job and onto the picket line last month for a 24-hour strike in support of a decent wage rise. An overtime ban is also in place at the mill.

The strike is in protest over a low-ball pay offer – despite Bluescope doubling its profit this year to AUD$1.6 billion. Dividends improved for shareholders but there is little for workers.

In New Zealand, the company’s earnings improved by more than 80 percent – the highest return in the group – and members say they’ve earned a fair deal.

Mill delegates say they feel frustrated after 19 rounds of pay talks, and have issued the following joint statement:

“The current situation has left the members feeling as though they are working for an employer who is not prepared to listen and does not care about the business that they work in. Recent industrial action has done nothing to alter the company’s position.

“This has only strengthened the membership’s resolve to see out the negotiation process.”

Maori TV stalemate

Maori TV members – standing tall on their
picket line

Maori TV members took strike action in August, in a bid to settle their collective agreement.

Although our members were told the channel had no money, they subsequently learned Maori TV had given non-union staff a bonus before Christmas and a wage rise in January.

Talks were close to settling, but then suddenly collapsed. So, it was all go for strike action!

More talks followed with members twice rejecting the channel’s offer. Fresh talks are pending as E tū and you goes to print.

“We’ve had no progress over a year,” says a member. “They have the money to settle this if they want to, but they don’t want to.”

Armourguard Living Wage target

Imagine an industry where you must work 60 hours a week to make ends meet. It’s cold and wet, but often your employer won’t provide basic wet weather gear or a jumper and you are not allowed to wear your own warm clothing. You get sick, but you’re only paid sick leave for 3 hours a day because you’re on a variable-hours contract. That’s what E tū has been told by security workers.

You’ve missed dinner with your kids for the fourth night running because you’re pulling a 14-hour day for your employer, who says you must work, or he’ll only give you 20 hours next week. And you only earn the minimum wage.

Our members tell us this is what life is like working for Armourguard – one of New Zealand’s biggest security firms.

Bargaining team members, Margaret Biddiss and Kenneth Renata

Armourguard is a key government security contractor, providing services for WINZ and Auckland Transport. Armourguard says it won’t pay more because its clients won’t wear the extra cost.

But our members and delegates at Armourguard are determined to win a better deal – and they’re hoping the Government and Auckland’s Mayor will lend a helping hand.

MSD/WINZ is led by Labour Minister Carmel Sepuloni, while Auckland Transport is part of Auckland Council, headed by Mayor, Phil Goff. Both support the Living Wage. The Government is also committed to ensuring all contracted workers in the core public service earn the Living Wage by September 2020.

So, our Armourguard members have written open letters to Carmel and Phil, asking them to put pressure on Armourguard to pay decent wages.

“We think Armourguard’s attitude is a kick in the teeth for their workers,” says delegate, Margaret Biddiss, who is a member of the E tū bargaining team.

“We slog our guts out for them every day, and they don’t care about us. Luckily, we have a plan to take the fight to the bosses,” she says.

You, our members, can help by adding your name to this open letter: email [email protected]

Security NZQA Level 2 training

Twelve E tū members from the Wellington region are just about to graduate with their NZQA Level 2 qualification in security. This free accredited course will enable them to progress in their careers and, in some jobs, to achieve substantially higher rates of pay.

The next group of students has just signed up in Auckland, and we are expecting to start a second Wellington course shortly.

Security guards at E tū’s Level 2 training

If you work in security, live in Auckland or Wellington and want to find out how you can access this course, email [email protected] or ring 0800 1 UNION (0800 186 466) and ask to speak with Emma Lipscombe.

Taharoa settles Collective Agreement

Talks have staved off strike action at Taharoa Ironsands, where members imposed a loading ban in late August after the company demanded cuts to wages and conditions.

The company finally agreed to renew members’ Collective Agreement with all pay and allowances intact, with members lifting the ban and ratifying the deal late last month.

Taharoa members at the ERA

The collective agreement settlement came on top of an earlier legal win by the union in reversing a company decision to unilaterally stop the payment of a long-standing allowance.

“At the end of the day, we’re happy to do our job,” says a member. He says the membership is “satisfied with the settlement and now we can concentrate on doing our work.

“We’ve got a vested interest in this mine and we would like to see it prosper as well as see the employment continue and benefit the people and the community.”

He says the membership appreciates the massive support by other members of the union, which allowed them to resist a very aggressive employer.

Tahaora Ironsands

Air NZ engineers meet

After meetings in Christchurch and Auckland, E tū members have voted “no” to discussing changes to their working conditions at Air NZ Engineering ahead of collective bargaining.

Peter Lees, E tū Senior delegate at Air NZ Engineering Christchurch says the delegates are working to ensure any changes are put to a vote. “Our aim is to have an over 95% turnout on all voteable issues,”
he says.

Meanwhile, $6 million of savings have been identified by workers at Air NZ Christchurch, in a union-management project to trim costs. A similar process is underway in Auckland.

Air NZ engineering meeting, Christchurch

Win for Gateway worker

“It was a horrific blow. It still is. The money doesn’t change that.”

Nelson member, Caro McFadden has been awarded more than $21,000 by the Employment Relations Authority after her unfair dismissal by Nelson mental health provider, Gateway Trust.

Caro (centre) with Gateway Trust members on strike (see below)

Caro was the coordinator of Snapshot, a community outreach service she set up for young people. Last year she was restructured out of her job.

With the disestablishment of her position, she applied for a new manager’s job, but was told at an informal meeting with her manager that she was unlikely to get the job. Instead, she said he offered her a support role and gave her the weekend to think about it before a meeting on Monday to learn her decision.

Stressed at the loss of her job, Caro’s doctor put her on sick leave, and she couldn’t make the meeting. So, the Trust dismissed her on the grounds of redundancy.

The Authority found the dismissal was unjustified and said “no fair and reasonable employer” would have dismissed her without first meeting face-to-face, once she recovered, to discuss her options. It also found Caro wasn’t given a fair chance to consider alternative work.

Caro says she still misses the job she created eight years ago. But she’s grateful for the support of her union and the ruling, which has given her some breathing space.

“Hats off to the union. If it wasn’t for the union, I probably wouldn’t be sitting with a healthy-looking bank account. I feel for the others though,” she says. “I worry about the service – we all do.”

Strike at Gateway

Gateway Trust members were on the picket line last month during strike action in protest over the Trust’s refusal to settle their Collective Agreement.

Gateway members stand tall for their CA

After the strike, the Trust agreed to talks and as we go to print, an outcome is looking promising, with a settlement expected in early September.

A member says staff are pleased with the outcome, “but they’re feeling very insecure,” due to the mental health sector’s precarious contract arrangements.

“It’s so uncertain. But we’re lucky to have kept the staff we’ve got and got them into the union, because they really appreciate what the union is doing.”

Meanwhile, members have received their back pay from the mental health equal pay settlement which our member says has been “a real shot in the arm.”

The hands that did the talking

The blistered hands of a Sistema worker hit the news and snowballed across social media last month, forcing Sistema to improve its health and safety practices.

The burnt hands of a Sistema worker

Smarting over the photo, and media reports of Sistema as a “sweatshop”, the company is now rotating jobs to combat fatigue and injuries, hi-vis gear costs have been reimbursed, and gloves are provided in different sizes to prevent burns – one size did not fit all!

Staffing numbers on some machines have also been lifted to prevent the injuries revealed in the photo.

But delegate Maria Latu says, despite months of talks, “they’re not giving us what we want which is a decent pay rise!”

Members received a tiny pay offer in August, but rejected it. They want the Living Wage.

More talks were pending as E tū and you goes to print.

The worker behind those burned hands says more needs to be done – that the 60-hour working week is too long and the pay too low: “If I work 40 hours there is not enough to survive. Hence the rates should go up so that I don’t have to work longer hours.”

Meanwhile, our delegates report that hands are being checked, incident forms filled in and injured people sent home. However, they are cynical about whether that will continue.

“They don’t do it every night,” says Maria. “Members are concerned the change is just because we’re in bargaining and once that’s over, it’ll just go back to where they were.”

You can follow progress via our website and Facebook.

This campaign is not over!

HPHE at NZ Post

Below, the delegates of the NZ Post High Performance High Engagement team hitch a lift on a Paxster as talks continue on delivering a High Performance High Engagement model at Post.

The NZ Post HPHE team, Owen Smith (standing), Paulene Flynn (drivers seat), Terry Howells and Carolle Exeter

As part of the process, our Post delegates are now working on how to improve mail delivery at branches where Paxsters are used. HPHE team member, Terry Howell says improving postal rosters is the team’s first project.

“Hopefully the one we’re working on will mean things will be smoother and run easier and the resourcing will be better to stop a lot of unwanted overtime,“ says Terry who has high hopes for HPHE.

“If we can actually work face-to-face like we’ve been doing, I think it’s a much better outcome for everyone.”

The Living Wage is on fire!

On 3 September, Wellington’s Mayor Justin Lester, cut the cake to celebrate Wellington City Council becoming New Zealand’s first fully accredited Living Wage council!

For six years, E tū has worked toward this milestone, alongside other unions, faith groups and community organisations, calling on councils and government to deliver decent wages for employees and contracted staff, like our security guards and cleaners.

E tū members have played a key role in the Council’s move to a Living Wage which has lifted the incomes of so many of our members by as much as 30%. Parking warden Malcolm Hirini, who attended the celebrations explained:

“For me, the Living Wage meant more time. More time with my family. I want to thank the Wellington City Council for giving us this opportunity to spend money in Wellington, live in Wellington, and be a part of Wellington.”

Mayor Justin Lester, who is also an E tū member, said he knows this will make a big difference in Council employees’ lives.

“It means our staff can support their families and enjoy some of the good things in life too, like occasionally going to the movies or going on a holiday.

Communities gather in Auckland to celebrate the 2018 Living Wage Employer list announcement

“I hope this will clear the path to make it easier for other councils to become Living Wage Employers as well.”

In Auckland, Mayor Phil Goff led celebrations to announce the 110 accredited Living Wage Employers for 2018. As Auckland Council takes the second of three steps toward a Living Wage, E tū member, Bernard Hoggins talked about the importance of earning a decent wage.

“My team mates and I are all very enthusiastic about the current progress towards the Living Wage at Auckland Council. The big difference it has made for me is that earlier this year I was able to take a trip to visit my sister and my two year old niece who I hadn’t met yet.”

On 1 September the Government fulfilled its promise to adopt a minimum of the Living Wage for all its directly-employed workers. Now your union is working to see this extended to our members contracted to deliver government services, including cleaners, catering staff and security guards.

The Living Wage is the clarion call for many of our members in bargaining as they seek – and win – fairer pay. As a member posted to our E tū Facebook page: “Woo hoo! starts with one, then it snowballs.”

Member injured in AFFCO boiler incident

A boilerman is recovering from serious burns after a flash fire engulfed his upper body in a boiler incident in July at AFFCO’s Moerewa meatworks in Northland.

A second incident early in August alarmed members, who were angry WorkSafe had signed the boiler off as safe – despite concerns being raised about it with management before the accident.

“When they let us put it back online, nothing had been done. Yeah, it did work, but all the controls weren’t up to scratch, that’s for sure,” says a member at the plant.

So, the union issued a media release, demanding the boiler be shut down and that WorkSafe urgently investigate. The result: the boiler was quickly taken off-line, checked, repaired and alarmed to warn of any problems.

“It was that press release that forced their hand, but it should have happened sooner,” says another member.

Your union can confirm our member is doing well, but it’ll be a long road back.

E tū member wins Safeguard award

A Coca-cola Amatil E tū member, Joanne Thompson has won Health and Safety Representative of the Year at the New Zealand Health and Safety Awards, which recognise excellence in health and safety in New Zealand workplaces.

Joanne’s citation says: “Challenged to identify a problem and find a solution, she proposed a better way of keeping pedestrians and forklifts separated. She also created a safety induction video for new starters and contractors.”

Safeguard award winner Joanne Thompson (left)(Credit: McCabe photography)

In the House – politics at a glance

A Just Transition

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to E tū oil and gas industry members in May about a Just Transition for energy workers in Taranaki. A Just Transition means a pathway towards sustainability in energy at the same time as ensuring workers, families and their communities are protected as huge changes affect our workplaces.

E tū members at the Biennial Conference endorsed a submission outlining our support for a Just Transition for workers in the energy industry. OceanaGold delegate and Industry Council member Mark Anderson says commitment to a Just Transition is “great for the mining industry.”

“It’s good to know that the union is working with the Government to sort out a way to transition these guys into other valuable jobs, should there be a change. It’s an actual, tangible thing that we can see happening at the Government level.”

Domestic violence leave

Karen Brown supports domestic violence leave

In a world first, New Zealand workers now have the right to 10 days domestic violence leave a year. Green Party MP Jan Logie’s Victims’ Protection Bill was passed in July and comes into effect on 1 April next year.

Southland delegates and Women’s Committee members, Karen Brown and Linda Bevan are delighted with the new law. Karen says her employer has just agreed to having a similar clause in their collective agreement: “We felt something needed to be done and that’s why we got stuck in and came up with a clause.”

Linda agrees that the leave entitlement is a huge step forward: “It makes a huge difference to those affected by domestic violence, just to know it’s there and that you have the support of your workmates,” she says.

Looking forward to the future – member profile

Congratulations to Wheeti Haenga – who was elected as the new Women’s Committee Convenor at our Women’s Conference in June.

It’s a whole new challenge for Wheeti, who has years of experience as a delegate, first with the Meat Workers Union, during nine years at the Tirau meatworks, and later at Carter Holt Harvey in Tokoroa, where she works as a stacker operator, tagging and marking up wood for processing.

Wheeti first joined a union aged 15 after her family found her a job with the Post Office in Wellington. It was the 1970s and a time of union activism: “I remember we did a protest – Holyoake was in government then!” she says.

But it was the meatworks where she first made her mark after her mostly male co-workers asked her to be their delegate.

“I was working with all these young guys; they’d work hard out on the cool chain, and then I discovered they were being offered a keg of beer and a BBQ for doing extra work on a Friday. I said, “Why are you doing that? Why don’t you just take the money and use it for your family?” So they asked me to be the delegate: one of them thought I must have had the biggest mouth!”

It was tough for a woman in such a male-dominated industry, but it was also a great delegate’s apprenticeship. Then, when she moved to Carter Holt Harvey, she was soon asked to be a delegate there, too.

“At the time, there were no women delegates and that’s why I put my hand up; I also work as a Health and Safety Rep on the site Committee so I’ve had my fingers in a number of pies.”

She admits her time as a Women’s Committee member has been an eye-opener, as she compared their bare-bones pay and conditions with the much more generous terms at Carter Holt Harvey.

“There are no problems at Carter Holt Harvey about approaching our managers personally with problems but with the other women on the committee, they don’t have that luxury. I have to remind myself we get what we get through our bargaining and others don’t have it so easy.”

Wheeti praises delegates, like Linda Bevin and Karen Brown, who have won cross-union support for including domestic violence clauses in collective agreements – rights now recognised in Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act (more overleaf).

“What they’ve done is great. At our site, we get generous leave so we’re covered, but hopefully the clause can be worked into collectives as well.”

Wheeti pays tribute to the Committee members she’ll be working with as Convenor.

“For me it’ll be two years of learning and I feel quite humbled. I just see myself as a leader in a committee that’s come forward from all areas and ethnicities and it’s not about me – it’s about working together as a committee.

“We’re all one. We’ve also got young ones there to spice things up. I thought, ‘Wow! I’m looking forward to the future!’”

Mental health pay equity deal official

The equal pay settlement for mental health and addiction support workers is official!

The Government, unions and other agencies signed on the dotted line at an event at parliament in August.

Shona Pao has worked in mental health support for 27 years, after following her mother, Tina Topia into the industry. Her pay will lift from $19.80 to $24.50 an hour.

“It’s exciting!” says Shona. “And I’m so happy for our delegates who have worked hard for us. This will make a huge difference.”

Delegate Huia Broughton says the settlement is a weight off her shoulders.

“You just feel you have more options, and like you can rest now. We’ll have a better work-life balance to look forward to,” she says.

About 5000 workers will benefit from the settlement, which includes backpay to 1 July last year.

Home support push

Home support members are organising! Workplace Organising Committees and training are growing membership numbers and active leaders.

“When I first joined, I thought I’d just give support, but it’s become much bigger than that,” says Etevise Ioane, who is one of our amazing home support activists.

Etevise Ioane (right) with fellow activists Shannon Crowley and Shaun O’Neill

Etevise says the members learn to speak for themselves, knowing the union is there to provide help, support and a sense of connection: “We have a much stronger bond with each other. And we encourage others to speak out,” she says.

“We know the union is behind us, that we can fall back on them. Once the members understand that, they become more proactive. And that’s the message we are trying to get out there.”

“We don’t just join for ourselves, but it’s for the good of all, and for the future.”

Organising Our Future

Delegates from across the country gathered in Auckland in July for our second Biennial Conference. The Conference name and theme, ‘Organising Our Future, Te Anga Whakamua’, set the stage for a forward-looking event focussed on preparing our union and our workforce for the world of work ahead.

Our membership was well represented by attendees from diverse backgrounds including delegates from all our industries, representatives from our democratic networks and committees, regional representatives and our National Executive members. Together, the Conference delegates embodied who we are as a union.

Delegates participated in different workshops to explore new and exciting ways of organising. E tū member Roszanne Davidson particularly enjoyed learning about political organising around election campaigns.

“What stood out for me was the political organising strategies workshop” Roszanne says.

“I learnt that there’s more to the political side of things than meets the eye. The people doing the work behind the scenes are the unsung heroes.”

As the highest decision-making body of our union, the Conference endorsed a number of remits and rule changes, including a remit that E tū supports the NZ Council of Trade Unions’ policy outlining opposition to the occupation of Palestine.

Charlie Ross, a representative from the Taranaki Delegates Forum which put up the remit, says he is very happy with the outcome.

“We discussed it at our Forum and we were keen to voice our support for the people in Palestine. We can only do what we can do, but it’s important that we stand up for them. I thought it was awesome that the Conference passed the remit.”

The Conference also recognised outstanding contributions to our union with Life Memberships awarded to E tū activists that have put in the hard yards. For Wellington caregiver Marianne Bishop, that was a real highlight.

“My favourite thing was Kristine Bartlett being awarded her Life Membership. She really deserved it for sticking with the equal pay fight for so long, and she got so many people a life-changing pay rise,” Marianne says.