Author: E tū

IDEA Services care workers to strike 1 April

Three thousand care and support workers employed by IDEA Services, the operational arm of IHC, have voted to strike on 1 April.

E tū industry co-ordinator Alastair Duncan says members voted overwhelmingly to strike after five months of challenging bargaining, during which IDEA has failed to respond positively to key workforce and safety concerns.

“Support workers at IDEA do an extraordinary job of supporting young and old people with intellectual disabilities,” says Alastair.

“Every day and every night, seven days a week, staff go the extra mile. Just once a year we ask IDEA to reflect that contribution by working together to improve the working conditions of staff.”

Alastair Duncan says union members have sought a greater voice on health and safety, and recognition for working weekends as well as the restoration of responsibility margins.

“IDEA responded by wanting to cut sick leave accumulation, force staff to move workplaces without agreement or notice and simply refused to consider recognition that staff are required to work anti-social hours.”

Alastair says IHC operates the same business model as for-profit care providers, spinning off its financially successful property division from its operational arm.

“IHC is a major landlord and property company that depends on its care staff. It is tragic to see them ignoring their own workforce.

“IHC has a strong and growing asset base but refuses to do the smart thing and allow its property arm to support its operational arm.”

Alastair says staff are concerned that IDEA has dug its heels in leaving them little choice but to take what is lawful, modest but important industrial action.

The union is seeking urgent mediation but if the strike goes ahead, will be holding nationwide high-profile pickets.

“Support workers will be reaching out to families and the community to work with us to persuade IDEA to do the right thing and respect it’s staff,” he says.

Alastair Duncan says IHC locked its staff out of weekend pay and other allowances in the 1990’s and it is now well past time to return what was stolen.

The strike will begin at 7.00 am and affect several hundred residential, vocational and secure homes and facilities.

ENDS

For further information contact Alastair Duncan on 027 245 6593.

Second strike tomorrow at Fuji Xerox

E tū members at Fuji Xerox have voted to strike for a second day following a successful day of action today.

The 50 members in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin will walk off the job again tomorrow from 7.30am to 4.30pm.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says the members have chosen this afternoon to escalate the strike.

The members are in dispute with Fuji Xerox in the wake of a 2% pay offer, which the company refuses to back-date to the expiry of their collective agreement in August last year.

The members also want recognition of their skills in line with recent assessments they’ve had, “but that’s been held back,” says Joe.

“The company has confirmed its parsimonious offer to our members in its own statement in response to today’s strike,” he says.

“It has also confirmed it won’t backdate any offer which would mean a year with no pay rise at all,  which is unacceptable.”

Joe says the union also refutes claims made by Fuji Xerox in respect to any pass-on to non-union members of any final pay deal negotiated by its members.

“The company is under the impression it can do as it pleases but it clearly doesn’t know the law on the matter. It doesn’t have carte blanche to just pass on to non-union workers what our members win for themselves,” says Joe.

“We’re deeply concerned with the company’s lack of understanding around the laws related to no pass-on. We need Fuji Xerox to acknowledge that they have to commit to a process for negotiating with non-union members.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator, ph. 027 591 0015

OCS/DHB service workers’ strikes cancelled

The strikes scheduled for tomorrow by OCS contracted service workers at Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa DHBs have been cancelled.

This follows agreement between E tū and OCS on the proposed terms and conditions of a new collective agreement for the workers, which is based on the DHB Multi-Employer Collective Agreement, or MECA, settled for directly employed service workers and signed off before Christmas.

The MECA sets the conditions for 4000 hospital service workers and includes pay rises of up to 40 percent over the next three years.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Sam Jones says the agreement was reached after mediation and talks late last week between E tū and OCS.

He says OCS subsequently confirmed funding arrangements with their DHBs clients to get a deal ahead of the strike.

“After a lengthy period of frustrating delays our members’ determination to push for a deal got results,” says Sam.

“They were prepared to strike to get a settlement and they have succeeded. Without that, I think we’d all still be waiting. So, this is great for them,” he says.

Sam says the members will vote on the proposed settlement over the coming fortnight.

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Sam Jones, E tū Industry Coordinator ph. 027 544 8563

Strike at Fuji Xerox

E tū members at Fuji Xerox offices around the country will take strike action today (Monday, 25 February) in support of a decent pay offer.

The strike will affect the company’s four sites in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin with members walking off the job from 8.30am until 4.30pm.

E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher says the members voted overwhelmingly to strike at meetings last week, after the company’s failure to resolve pay issues, including discriminatory treatment against union members.

“Our members are very angry,” says Joe.

“First, the company actually lifted wages to stop people being poached by its competitors. But while one group of union members got the increase, another group in Auckland got nothing. To add fuel to the fire, while the union negotiated the pay rise, non-union members also received it.”

Joe says talks since August last year have failed to resolve matters.

“Our people who missed out want that money and they’re determined to fight to get it,” he says.

Joe says members are also unhappy about the company’s 2% pay offer, with no backpay, despite their collective agreement expiring in July last year.

“This is a multi-national company that has been mismanaged over the past few years and there have been job losses affecting our members,” says Joe.

“Those who remain are working harder, smarter and longer and they want fair recompense.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Joe Gallagher E tū Industry Coordinator, ph. 027 591 0015

Workers will be picketing Monday 25 February at the Auckland premises of Fuji Xerox.

Where: 79 Carlton Gore Road, Newmarket

When: 10am-midday

Changes urged to Equal Pay Amendment bill

E tū says without key changes to the Equal Pay Amendment bill, few women will be able to successfully pursue an equal pay claim.

E tū Assistant National Secretary, John Ryall appeared before today’s Workforce and Education Select Committee hearing on the bill, together with E tū delegate, Marianne Bishop.

John says the union welcomes the Government’s decision to retain the Equal Pay Act 1972, which the previous National government would have scrapped.

The union is also pleased claimants must no longer prove they have a case before they can lodge a pay equity claim.

“However, too many hurdles remain,” says John.

“The process remains unnecessarily complex and time-consuming, and it needs to be simplified.”

John says the union’s position is founded on the principles of the Joint Working Group on pay equity, as well as the Court of Appeal ruling in the Terranova case which led to the equal pay settlement for care and support workers.

“The court found the Equal Pay Act 1972 was deficient and in need of change, which we support, but we don’t want it changed so it’s more difficult for women to get pay equity.

“There is a risk as things stand of closing the door for other women, because it’s so difficult that people give up.”

E tū delegate and care and support worker, Marianne Bishop says the new bill is an improvement on the Equal Pay Act 1972.

But she says, while women in unions will have support to navigate the process, many individual claimants would struggle.

She says it’s critical all women get the resources they need, including help with comparators so they can argue their case.

“The bill is better than it was but it’s quite complex for an individual person to navigate. Employers will have lawyers to help them but many women will flounder.

“There needs to be a support system – an agency – to help these people through the process,” she says.

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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

To contact Marianne, please call:

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

Asia Pacific deadliest region for journalists

E tū, the union for journalists says it’s disturbing that the Asia Pacific region has once again been named as the deadliest region for journalists.

The 2018 annual Killed List, released by the International Federation of Journalists and now in its 29th year, records the deaths of 95 journalists and media workers.

A third of deaths were in the Asia Pacific region, where 32 journalists & media workers were killed – 34% of the global total.

It is the second year in a row the region has been named the most dangerous for journalists.

“As the report states, the pursuit of the truth makes journalists unpopular everywhere. In many regions, it’s deadly,” says Paul Tolich, E tū Senior National Industrial Officer.

Paul notes the high death toll in the Philippines, where three journalists died last year – 12 have been killed there since 2016.

The report notes the forces behind the figures, including increasingly polarised views globally, “the rise of dangerous nationalist and populist forces in many countries and the stigmatization of journalists and media by politicians and the enemies of media freedom.”  

“While journalists in this country work in a benign environment, this report is a stark reminder this is not the case for their counterparts in many parts of the world,” says Paul.

“The report is also a testament to the bravery of the many working journalists prepared to risk their lives to shine a light in dark places – despite the risks.”

ENDS

For comment, please contact:

Paul Tolich E tū Senior National Industrial Officer ph. 027 593 5595

The report is available via this link:

https://www.ifj.org/fileadmin/user_upload/IFJ_2018_Killed_Report_FINAL_pages.pdf

E tū critical of Visionstream job cuts

E tū says job cuts affecting 11 technicians who service Chorus’s copper network in Northland may be the start of sweeping changes to the way the network is maintained.

The job cuts were announced today and E tū understands Visionstream, which is contracted by Chorus to run the Northland network is set to replace them with dependent sub-contractors.

“That is the same model used to install Ultra-Fast Broadband, and is closely linked to labour exploitation,” says E tū Industry Coordinator, Joe Gallagher.

Some 72 sub-contractors face charges related to labour abuses after a sting run by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Joe says the Northland job losses will be very hard for the people involved – “they’ve lost quality, full-time permanent jobs.”

He says the union is also gravely concerned that the sub-contracting model used by Visionstream and favoured by Chorus is about to be rolled out across the whole copper network.

“When a company like Chorus decides to cut costs by using contractors like Visionstream, it means no job is safe. Visionstream appears to have no scruples about how its subbies are treated,” he says.

“We know the sub-contracting model has led to major and near universal exploitation.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

Joe Gallagher Industry Coordinator ph. 027 591 0015

DHB OCS workers vote to strike

E tū members employed by hospital contractor, OCS have voted to strike over the company’s failure to agree the same pay deal for them as directly employed DHB workers covered by the new DHB MECA, settled just before Christmas.

The affected members, who work at Hawkes Bay DHB and Wairarapa DHB voted overwhelmingly to walk off the job for 24 hours on 26 February.

The MECA sets the conditions for 4000 hospital service workers and includes pay rises of up to 40 percent over the next three years.

Most directly employed workers have either received their first pay rise, or have a date when the increase including backpay will be paid.

But E tū Industry Coordinator, Sam Jones says for OCS members, there is no settlement, pay rise or back pay in sight.

“OCS has so far failed to respond to members’ claims with respect to the MECA, nor to settle on the same terms.

“It claims there is no settlement yet because of hold ups at the DHB funding end. The DHB says there is no problem, pointing the finger back at the contractor. 

“Either way, this isn’t good enough after the settlement was signed off and promoted by the Ministry of Health, and the Health Minister himself,” says Sam.  

Wairarapa member and OCS contractor, Kerry Hargood says he and his co-workers thought the money would be paid out by Christmas and feelings are running high.

“I’m a sole father on one wage. I turned down extra work because I thought I’d get the pay rise and backpay before Christmas. Now I’ve got books to buy and uniforms for the kids, and I haven’t got the money.  

“We’ve all worked really hard; they’ve told us how wonderful we are, and now it’s come to this. It’s really hurt us all,” he says, “A lot of us thought this was a done deal.”

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Sam Jones E tū Industry Coordinator, Public Hospital ph. 027 544 8563

If media wish to speak to Kerry Hargood, please contact Karen Gregory-Hunt on ph. 027 6222 345 and we’ll put you in touch.

Working in high temperatures

29 January 2019

There are no legal limits as to what temperatures workers can safely work in. But your employers has a duty of care to provide a safe environment. 

You also have rights with respect to this.

  • If workers have reasonable grounds, they can refuse unsafe work but need to be available for other work.
  • If you think you’re working conditions are unsafe, say so – this is best done collectively.
  • Contact your union if you need help: we can support you in raising the issue with your employer.

We can also advocate for solutions such as the following:

  • Air conditioning – people can hire air-conditioning units. If this is not practical, ask for a unit to be placed in a room, such as the cafeteria or staff-room, so people can go there and cool off.
  • Request extra cooling off breaks, in the airconditioned room – this has worked well in the past in hospital kitchens and in some factories.
  • There is work-gear, such as cooling vests, which are chilled in a fridge, and used to cool the body. Ask your boss about these. Clothing like heavy cotton overalls traps heat. Light cotton is good.
  • Ask for water fountains on-site: if that’s not possible, make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • Many people work outdoors – you could ask the boss to consider a change of hours so people work when it’s cooler.
  • People should not do heavy work in high temperatures: ask you boss if you can defer this work until the weather cools down again.
  • Remember hats, sunscreen and light protective clothing.
  • Longer-term, bargain for acceptable heating and cooling systems in your workplace.