Author: E tū

ERA win opens new ground for IDEA, pay rise on the way

A series of strikes by E tū members employed by IDEA Services has been critical evidence in persuading the Employment Relations Authority to accept a union application for facilitated bargaining.

The Authority ruled that seven escalating strike actions were “likely to affect the public interest” and impact on IDEA clients. That was enough for them to direct IDEA to sit down and talk.

E tū advocate Alastair Duncan says the union welcoms the decision but was disappointed that IDEA had turned down earlier attempts at facilitation, leaving staff with little option but to take industrial action.

“Now we have a decision from the Authority that cannot be ignored.  After months of stubbornness, we hope IDEA will come back to the negotiating table willing to address very real staff concerns around staffing, safety and job security.

“To date, IDEA has been unresponsive to union attempts to find a middle ground and we hope that a move into a more formal setting will assist.

“IDEA is the operation arm of IHC, which is a multimillion-dollar business dependant on public funding and public good will. We hope IDEA will now stop trying to cut the rights of the workforce.”

Meanwhile, IDEA care and support worker workers will be getting pay rises of between 50 cents and $1 an hour as a result of the ground breaking equal pay win.

“IDEA tried to undermine vocational staff when we won the case, but the good news is that every care worker at IDEA gets a pay rise from 1 July,” Alastair says.

E tū will be holding paid membership meetings in August to report progress.

E tū welcomes BERL Fair Pay Agreement report

E tū has welcomed the BERL independent report emphasising the role of Fair Pay Agreements in making lives better for Kiwi workers.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says the findings aren’t a surprise, as New Zealand is in the minority of OECD countries that don’t have industry bargaining in the private sector, contributing to our poor record on poverty and inequality.

“The countries with the highest standards of living invariably have national or sector bargaining that ensures decent living standards. We do not.

“Fair Pay Agreements are well overdue in Aotearoa New Zealand, as workers have suffered from inadequate laws.”

Annie says that cleaning and security are two industries in real need of sector-wide bargaining.

“One of the main problems in security and cleaning is the contracting model, which sees companies in a race to the bottom with wages and conditions.

“Some of the biggest companies have told us they’d really like to pay better wages but can’t afford it as they’ll be undercut by exploitative employers. Fair Pay Agreements can be a solution to that.”

E tū members spoke at the launch of the BERL report this morning, and the union is getting ready for a big push for Fair Pay Agreements.

“We’ve been campaigning for this since before the last election, and we were very excited to see Fair Pay Agreements in Labour policy,” Annie says.

“Now’s the time to see some action – low paid workers have waited long enough.”

IDEA strike on Sunday: info for members

Dear IDEA members,

Despite another full day of mediation on Thursday 20 June, IDEA failed to make an offer to settle your collective so Sunday’s strike starting at 9.00 am and continuing for 24 hours is on.

On Tuesday 25 June we’re going to the Employment Relations Authority to argue the case that IDEA has breached the law and to see a formal “facilitation”. Your strike action is a key part of winning that hearing as it is one of the criteria that can force a decision.

We expect IDEA to try and undercut that process by making a late offer over the weekend. We are pretty sure they will continue to push their attempt to make you even more “flexible” and are confident any offer will NOT address the need to value Senior Support staff or restore the weekend rates they took off staff many  years ago. 

At the mediation it did seem they might be ready to back down on their attempt to cut the health and safety rights at work. We put that down to the action and support shown by members to date. So don’t stop now.

Click here for details about your local picket.

Full membership meetings are being planned for July, so keep an eye out for those details which will be sent to you and published on the website.

E tū welcomes the Wellbeing Budget

E tū is applauding the Government for today’s Wellbeing Budget, which puts significant investment in areas important for Kiwi families.

John Ryall, E tū’s Assistant National Secretary, says the Budget demonstrates that the Government has “people in need at the front of their minds”.

“This Wellbeing Budget will bring significant change for some of society’s most vulnerable people,” John says.

“The big increase in funding for mental health services was long overdue. It was good to see the Government accept nearly all of the recommendations from the mental health and addictions inquiry yesterday. Today, they’ve put their money where their mouth is.

“Indexing the main benefits to wage increases is also a good idea. For many lower income people, living costs are rising well above inflation, particularly housing costs. This new approach is more reasonable. However, benefits remain at poverty level and that still needs to be fixed.

“We are also pleased with investments in child poverty reduction, decent infrastructure, better services at schools, our hospitals, and more.

“There’s a lot to celebrate for the people who need the government’s attention most, but there’s a lot more to be done.”

ENDS

For more information and comment, contact John Ryall: 027 520 1380

IDEA strike four – info for members

Why Friday’s strike at IDEA is going ahead

Dear members,

Last Friday, we held our eighth day of bargaining with IDEA. The good news is management didn’t walk out like they did last time and we were able to present them with nearly 700 personalised messages from members (the ‘wanted’ posters) to go the Board. Since neither the Board nor CEO Ralph Jones agreed to come to the meeting, we have provided copies for them to read. The bad news is they are still insisting on being able to force staff to move between services and facilities and slash health and safety rights.

As a result, we have started legal proceedings in the Employment Relations Authority to seek a formal facilitation hearing. This is a legal process that can test the employer position but to be successful in our application, Friday’s 8.30 – 9.30 strike must go ahead.

Your strike action is a critical part of our application. We’ve also said IDEA has seriously undermined the bargaining by making false statements about members (the letters from Ralph Jones which you may have seen).

It’s good to remember that the vote for action as over was overwhelmingly endorsed and that further strikes are planned for an hour from 8.30 on Friday 7th with a 12-hour strike on the weekend of the 16th and a 24-hour strike on the following weekend – if needed.

Taking a one-hour strike this and next Friday is your legal right and makes our application to the Authority all the more likely to succeed. It also shows you are serious about protecting your current rights. Members who don’t take part risk undermining that process.

Members are also  reminded of the union negotiated equal pay rise due on 1 July  with increase of 80 cents to $1 an hour. Taking action does not affect that increase.

Remember, IDEA’s attempts to your current slash health and safety rights and force so called ‘flexibility’ cannot be imposed on any member without your consent, so Friday’s action shows we are serious.

This week, 50,0000 teachers took nationwide action in support of their workplace rights, so we are in good company!

For more information contact E tū Union support on 0800 1 UNION.

Statement on behalf of E tū members employed at Parliament

We broadly support the findings and recommendations of Debbie Francis’ independent review into Bullying and Harassment in the New Zealand Parliamentary Workplace. We want to thank staff for taking the difficult and brave step of making their voices heard in this review. 

The report highlights the unique and high-pressure environment of this workplace where an unusual employment relationship exists that has the effect of leaving staff extremely vulnerable.

There are several proposed actions outlined in the report that we believe, if taken urgently, can make a meaningful difference to address the systemic bullying and harassment in the parliamentary workplace. These are:

1.       Appoint an Independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Conduct

–        There needs to be an independent whistle-blowing mechanism for bullying and harassment in the workplace that puts accountability above political interests.

2.       Establish a Sanctions Working Group

–       We support training for Members of Parliament (MPs) to become good managers but we also want to ensure there are protections for staff entering offices where there is a high-turnover of staff.

–       We want to see additional training and mentoring for offices where this occurs before further permanent staff are hired.

–       Agencies should be responsible for temporary staff and their wellbeing in these offices.

–       Where inappropriate behaviour persists, the public should be made aware of a member’s behaviour in extreme circumstances.

3.       Identify a single employer for each job role

–        The Review’s recommendations go into significant detail outlining a new HR system but we feel that until there is absolute clarity on who is the employer for each of the roles at parliament there will be no accountability.

4.       Replace current events-based contracts for Member support and political staff with new fixed term employment agreements for the duration of a parliamentary term

Unfortunately, some of the recommendations ignore the reality of political parties who need to function in the parliamentary workplace.

The Francis Review also mentions remuneration reviews for staff who work long hours in an extraordinary environment. It is important to note that some political parties have the means to provide additional benefits to staff and others do not. 

It is our view that it is critical that an independent authority oversees remuneration for staff instead of political parties, who are incentivised to keep staff wages low compared with the rest of the public service due to the media scrutiny that any increases via agencies would attract.

This is the collective lived experience of staff who believe that these are the changes that need to be a priority for the next steps in the response to the Review.

ENDS

For more info or comment: Paul Tolich 027 593 5595

Changes to secondary tax – what you need to know

The Government is making it easier to pay the right amount of tax when you work more than one job.

Now, when IRD collects tax they will check you are paying the right amount. If something needs to change they will contact you. They might give you a new tax code or suggest you apply for a Tailored Tax Code to change the amount of tax you pay.

You can also contact IRD on 0800 775 247 yourself to check your tax code or ask for a Tailored Tax Code.

Even if you have not got a new tax code, if you have paid too much tax during the year, the IRD will now automatically refund it into your bank account after the end of the year (so make sure your bank account details are up to date). If you have not paid enough tax at the end of the year, IRD will automatically let you know and tell you how long you have to pay what you owe.

If you have children under 18, at the same time you should also ask IRD to check whether you are eligible for Working for Families. Make sure you let them know if you have a new baby too, because there are extra payments for kids under one year old.

If you have no children, but you earn between $24,000 and $48,000, make sure you signed up for the Independent Earner Tax Credit. This is worth $10 per week.

Make sure your employer has your IRD number and that IRD have your contact details.

You can do all this online too. Go to www.ird.govt.nz and register for myIR.

Click here to download a PDF from IRD with more information.

Second strike at IDEA gets massive support

IDEA members have again voted by a 99% to 1% margin for further strike action in support of the E tū claim to lift pay and prevent IDEA rolling back existing rights.

The next strike is a one-hour strike starting on Monday 13 May at 3.30 pm and lasting till 4.30 pm.  A further strike is planned for the 20 May at the same time if needed.

On 8 May we will meet with IDEA to see if their position has changed and report any progress.

In the meantime, all affected members are reminded that the strike is your legal right and that if managers ask you if you are going to be working, you can tell them that we have advised IDEA of the strike and it’s your right to strike for the hour.

Auckland RIDSAS workers will start a paperwork ban at 10.00 am on the same day.

The full voting results will be published following the counting of special votes.

E tū very disappointed by CGT announcement

E tū, the biggest private sector union in New Zealand, is very disappointed that the Government will not adopt any of the Tax Working Group’s recommendations on introducing a capital gains tax (CGT).

Annie Newman, E tū’s National Director of Campaigns, says that this development is a step backwards in the much-needed tax reform debate.

“Workers pay tax on every dollar they earn, it’s ridiculous that some of the very richest people don’t have to contribute,” Annie says.

“Having everyone pay their fair share is a fundamental principle of a well-functioning tax system. We all need our schools, hospitals, roads, and many other things that taxes pay for.”

Annie says that the commitment from the Prime Minister that there will not be a CGT while she is leader is particularly disappointing.

“There’s definitely an argument that the Labour Party has not yet won the public debate on this element of tax law reform. However, that’s a good reason to strengthen the public discussion – not to rule out important tools for tackling inequality.

Annie says that this decision means that the Government will need to be even more committed to other policies for tackling inequality in New Zealand.

“There is still some hope for continuing to fix poverty in New Zealand. Policies like Fair Pay Agreements, ethical procurement, better healthcare, free education, and affordable housing all have a big part to play.

“Working people may have lost this one, but we’ll continue our campaigns for real change – that’s what New Zealanders deserve.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340
If Annie isn’t able to answer your call, please send her a text and she will respond as soon as possible.