Author: E tū

NZ Post update 16 April 2020

Bargaining update

E tū and PWUA officials have met by videoconference to finalise the terms of settlement for bargaining. We are planning to meet with the company again on Thursday 16 April.

Once the settlement is signed, we will contact our delegates to discuss ratification options. We are still waiting to see what kind of restrictions will be in place after/if the initial 4 week lockdown is finished. Once we all understand what we can and can’t do, we will be able to work out how to vote on the agreement in a way that is fair to all members.

Temperature checking

The company has approached us with a proposal to undergo temperature checks for people coming and going from NZ Post sites. This is to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. In principle we agreed with this proposal on the following grounds:

  1. That people sent home with a high temperature would be on special paid leave
  2. That the person carrying out the check would be competent
  3. That testing is voluntary for NZ Post direct employees
  4. That no-one is disadvantaged by the process

We are satisfied that these conditions have been met and Post would like to begin trials at the Porana Rd delivery site and Contract Logistics in Auckland. These will be reviewed, with feedback from the membership guiding any further implementation or changes needed.

It is important to note that temperature checking is not a perfectly accurate way of determining whether someone has COVID-19. It is just an extra precaution on top of all the other health and safety measures that everyone should be following to keep themselves and others safe.

Wage subsidy

NZ Post has confirmed that they intend to apply for the government wage subsidy to help pay workers during the lockdown and subsequent periods of restriction.

This will not affect the pay agreements already in place, nothing will change for you (your tax won’t change either).

But Post does need your permission to apply on your behalf, and we would encourage our members to allow the company to do this. The information they pass on to the Ministry of Social Development is no different to that already passed on to ACC and IRD on your behalf, but they need your permission to do this.

We understand they have put out a communication about this and that your team leader will approach you about seeking your permission for this process.

Essential worker payment

We have had discussions with the company regarding an essential worker payment to recognise those who are continuing to work during the lockdown period. We have been told that extra remuneration is unlikely considering the company’s current COVID-related downturn, but we are continuing talks and also contemplating alternative forms of reward.

Temporary site changes

This was an issue that was raised before bargaining and seems to be ongoing due to the current situation. E tū had bargaining claims regarding any future movements of staff between sites but we could not reach an agreement during negotiations. We did agree though to work on a long term solution that would benefit our members.

In the meantime, we agreed that the following interim agreement would be printed in the letters of settlement:

  • This is a voluntary arrangement.
  • The Union will be advised before the Company seeks volunteers
  • The employee’s current terms and conditions of employment will remain unchanged.
  • The Management of Change provisions under Section F of the Collective Employment Agreement will not apply to this temporary arrangement but will continue to apply generally, for example the employee’s entitlement to any redundancy compensation remains unaffected in the event of permanent changes to their role in the future.

These principles will apply to any voluntary moves that may be offered by the company from now until a permanent solution is reached.

Worksafe

We understand that a worker at NZ Post has contacted Worksafe to highlight non-essential product being processed by the company. The company has told us that Worksafe is satisfied regarding this matter. They say that they have an obligation to process everything that is lodged in the system, and they have also told us that they have spoken to their business customers and informed them not to send any non-essential mail.

Before closing their inquiry though, Worksafe have asked to speak to some Health and Safety reps to discuss practices on site. We have nominated JD Rawiri, Lana Leota and Corey Howland to speak to Worksafe to discuss on site safety.

Paid meal breaks

The union has just signed an agreement regarding paid 30 minute meal breaks for current operations employees who were entitled to a paid meal break as at 26 June 2016 but have subsequently lost them due to changes in role. There are specific workers who may now be entitled to receive a paid meal break again as a result of this agreement.

The criteria are workers who:

  1. are employed under the Operations schedule; and
  2. were employed by New Zealand Post under the collective agreement before 26 June 2016 (for the avoidance of doubt, they do not need to have been employed since 26 June 2016 under the Operations occupational schedule in particular); and
  3. as at 26 June 2016 had an entitlement to a paid 30-minute meal break (for the avoidance of doubt, and without limiting examples, that includes Operations employees who would have been entitled to a 30-minute paid meal break but did not use the entitlement because they worked fewer than 5 hours, and employees who worked outside of Operations who were entitled to a 30-minute paid meal break as at 26 June 2016, but does not include ex-ECL employees who did not have a paid meal break).

The employees covered by the clause will lose their entitlement to the paid break if:

  1. their current continuous service is broken or was broken on or after 26 June 2016; or
  2. they move or have moved to a position outside of the Operations schedule, where a 30-minute paid meal break does not apply.

The company will also be making an ex-gratia payment to the eligible workers:

  • at 30 minutes for every day worked;
  • plus 30 minutes for every day that would ‘otherwise be a working day’ and on which the affected employee took paid leave, and would have been entitled to the paid break had they worked;
  • from the date on which the affected employee lost their paid 30-minute meal break; and 
  • at the employee’s current remuneration rate under the collective agreement. 

Essential worker leave

One of our delegates has raised that the criteria for vulnerable people on the NZ Post form is slightly different to what is outlined on the Ministry of Health website. It is our belief that the Ministry of Health website overrides the company’s criteria. Anyone who is having issues receiving special leave for these reasons should talk to their union delegate.  

Home support workers are on the front line, so why haven’t they been paid?

Despite guaranteed government funding and subsidy schemes such as essential service leave, the largest employers in New Zealand’s home support sector have this week either not paid or vastly underpaid many home support workers, or forced them into taking annual leave.

The Public Service Association and E tū both represent home support workers, and the unions say the failure to pay essential workers is tantamount to wage theft and subsidy theft from the government, and is an illegal breach of staff Collective Employment Agreements.

“These breaches come at a time when support workers continue to risk their own wellbeing, often without adequate PPE, and go out day after day into the homes of New Zealand’s most vulnerable people”, says E tū Organising Director Kirsty McCully.

“Support workers are lifelines to our elderly people, those with disabilities or long term conditions. Despite weeks of government promises they still do not have reliable access to PPE, and on top of all that they now wake up to empty bank accounts. When will it end?”

The unions stand together and call on employers in the sector to urgently fix the situation and pay workers what they are owed.

“We are beyond disappointed to see employers breach their agreements with our members, forcing them into financial hardship at the worst possible time. While so many of us stay home over the long weekend, these workers will go from house to house putting themselves at risk to help others,” says PSA Assistant National Secretary Melissa Woolley. 

“Home support workers may only be guaranteed five hours a week, but routinely work forty or more. Some have now been sent home because of compromised immune systems, and are only being paid for their few guaranteed hours instead of the full time hours they normally work.”

The issue will be raised directly and firmly with all employers and relevant government agencies.

“Support workers have already used up every piece of goodwill they have left in order convincing themselves to continue to come to work in situations where they don’t have adequate PPE to protect themselves and their clients”, says Kirsty McCully.

“Today alone I’ve had 20 support workers come to me and say this is the final straw and they’re quitting the sector for good. They feel disrespected and used. It’s not good enough for those in caring professions to have their dedication to client care taken advantage of.”

The unions encourage workers to stand up to mistreatment and take whatever steps are necessary to protect their safety.

“Support workers have had enough. In recent years we have won equal pay settlements and guaranteed hours, but at every turn those higher up the chain try to undermine these advances and give workers less than they deserve,” says Melissa Woolley.

“Our members just want to look after those in need in a safe environment and get paid for their work. We have advised our members to defer unsafe work until their employers provide adequate PPE. It’s up to employers and government to make this right.”

ENDS

E tū member tells Phil Goff that cleaners are worth 100%

While directly employed non-essential Auckland Council staff are staying at home to save lives on 100% pay, some of their lowest paid colleagues are not so lucky.

Malia Lagi, a cleaner at an Auckland Council recreation centre that is currently closed, has taken a 20% pay cut, taking her pay for the hours she normally works to well below the minimum wage.

Malia usually has to work over 60 hours a week just to make ends meet.

With her partner also off work with just 80% of his wages, the lockdown is hitting them and their six kids very hard.

“I’m very worried that we’ll get behind on everything. Rent, power, water, and especially food – I want to buy healthy food like fruit and veges for my family my it’s too expensive now,” Malia says.

“I went to Mangere Pak’nSave yesterday and was in the queue for more than an hour. All the meat was gone except for the most expensive stuff, and I couldn’t afford that. So I had to leave with no meat, which my family was very sad about.

“Three of my kids are at uni. All they can do is study and eat. It’s really tough for the whole family.”

Malia attended Auckland Mayor Phil Goff’s election campaign launch last year and calls for him to intervene.

“At the Mayor’s campaign launch, he promised that he was going to pay the Living Wage to contracted cleaners like me. We’re still waiting for him to deliver that, and we need it, but in the meantime, we need our normal wages back.

“There’s no reason Auckland Council shouldn’t make sure their workers all get 100% of their wages during lockdown. Aucklanders are still paying our rates during this lockdown period. The money is there to pay us properly.”

E tū organiser Fala Haulangi says that hundreds of thousands of workers across New Zealand are in a similar position.

“When wages are already far too low, the 20% cut that many are facing is simply devastating,” Fala says.

“Every Kiwi is doing it tough in one way or another. But for those who already face hardships, the COVID-19 lockdown is making their lives extremely challenging.

“All employers need to take responsibility for all their workers, including those employed by contractors. E tū is calling for all employers to pay their workers 100%. For somewhere like Auckland Council to pass the cost of COVID-19 onto their lowest paid workers is ridiculous and unfair.

“Both as Malia’s employer and as Auckland’s mayor, Phil Goff needs to show leadership and fix this situation for all the families affected – he could change their lives overnight.”

ENDS

For more info and comment:
Fala Haulangi, 027 204 6332

Air NZ cuts not good enough for Kiwis

Air New Zealand has announced specific details today about their decision to cut around 1500 jobs from their cabin crew workforce.

Savage, E tū’s Head of Aviation, says that the New Zealand public will share worker’s dissatisfaction with the news.

“Kiwis care about each other and about the success of our national carrier, so today’s news that Air New Zealand wants to rush to axe 1500 cabin crew roles will be of real concern to the public,” Savage says.

“Like all aviation workers, Air New Zealand cabin crew are trained and committed professionals. They want to see the airline succeed and prosper again. Like the New Zealand public, they want to see it carry on with even better safety, service, and standards.”  

However, Savage says, the company is risking their good reputation by speeding into a redundancy process.

“The company’s plan to lay off thousands of people while the country is still in lockdown is the wrong move. It’s too rushed and it doesn’t need to be. That is not what fair consultation looks like and is very disappointing to see a once proud company get it so wrong. They risk destroying the very organisation they are trying to save.

“The wage subsidy, Air New Zealand’s cash reserves, and the government loan means we have the time to properly work through a process and look to the future. E tū members can see the scale of the problem and want a ‘just transition’ approach, where people are at the heart of the process.

“We need time to develop plans for redeployment and repurposing, for retraining and a proper recovery for the airline. Only then can the company, with its workers, set themselves up for success. that’s what New Zealand needs right now.”

E tū has welcomed the news today that the Government has appointed former New Zealand Council of Trade Unions President Ross Wilson as independent advisor to the Air New Zealand Board of Directors providing strategic advice from a unionised worker perspective.

“Having a worker’s voice at the top table will help steer or national airline through tough times and help the airline’s leadership see there are better options,” Savage says.

ENDS

For more info and comment:

Savage, 027 540 0074

Update for Fletchers members

E tū officials met with Fletcher and subsidiary company representatives to discuss the Bridging Pay Programme (BPP) they proposed and the consultation packet they have sent to workers who did not agree to the BPP by the company’s short time frames.

None of the options the company has offered in the packet are good enough in our view, and given the pressure of agreeing to something or potentially not having enough income for your needs, we view any choice you make as under duress.  However, we encourage you to do what works best for you so you have money to live.  You need to select the option that’s best for you in a bad situation.

E tū will continue to pursue all avenues to try to improve the situation for members and your families now and continuing after the lockdown.  Union reps have met with the company and been very clear that we will raise our deep concerns at all levels, including with MBIE, who we have now contacted.

Our understanding from the company is that those who did not agree before the company cut off to the BPP can still do so, and you also have access to the other options the company outlined in the consultation packs.  After you discuss the option that works best for you with your manager, if the company tells you that option isn’t available for you, please get that in writing and talk to your delegate.

E tū members at Fletchers: “We’ll be screwed”

E tū members at Fletcher Building Ltd are opening up about how they expect their pay cut to affect them and their families.

The company has announced that most workers are in line for a wage cut of up to 70%, while the top executives on millions of dollars a year will have a 30% cut.

Dave Asher, who works at Winstone Wallboards, which is part of the Fletcher building products division, feels betrayed.

“I feel bloody stabbed in the back,” Dave says.

“It’s as if we are worthless and of no value to the company. It would be awesome to get them to listen to us, but we’re getting no feedback through. It’s not good enough for us.

“I feel for the families who live paycheque to paycheque. How are they going to handle this? For the younger ones, it’s going to be a tough ask.”

Tame Wairepo-Bell is worried about what such a major pay cut would do for him, his partner, and their 5-month old daughter, Piper-Mae.

“If I was to lose 70% of my wage, I worry that I wouldn’t be able to give our child the support she needs. We’ll do everything we can to provide the essentials for her, but it would probably mean I myself won’t be able to eat.”

One E tū member spoke anonymously about what the cuts would mean for his shopping list.

“It will put me into severe hardship. At 50% pay I may be able to cover some costs but would have to skip buying some basic household items and would have a really limited choice of groceries.

“30% would mean potentially defaulting on my mortgage. We’d be screwed.”

Another anonymous worker shared the sentiment.

“Don’t know what to do when the money drops down – we’ll have to talk to the bank and see what we can do. We’ll be screwed.

“This is a big company that makes big profits. The people on the floor who put all the work out get nothing and the executives stay on high wages. I feel gutted, it wasn’t what I expected.

That worker also urged the company to make a more realistic offer and engage in good faith.

“It would take a lot of the stress away. If they don’t, I don’t know how we will survive, I really don’t.”

E tū Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher says it isn’t over yet.

“We’re deeply concerned by Fletcher’s behaviour. We believe their proposal to date has been nothing short of unlawful, and our members desperately need the company to rethink it. We’ll be reporting the company’s behaviour to MBIE, as well as continuing to talk to the Government.

We are pleased that Fletchers are applying for the wage subsidy, but they need to come to the party with a meaningful contribution of their own in these unprecedented times.”

ENDS

For more info or comment: Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

A sad end for Virgin NZ

E tū members are hugely disappointed that Virgin Australia has decided to shut up shop in New Zealand quickly, bringing a tight knit workforce to an abrupt end.

The company emailed staff last night, telling them a shutdown was effective immediately. Roughly 600 New Zealand-based staff have lost their jobs.

Kylie Halligan, flight attendant and E tū member, says the last three weeks “have been a complete roller coaster”.

“To say I’m devastated is an understatement. I’ve not only lost a job, I’ve lost a family. The Virgin Australia bases here in NZ were relatively small and we all knew everyone. The bonds formed while working and staying away from home all the time could never be replicated in any other profession.”

Other members anonymously shared their sadness.

“It came as a huge blow for my partner and me who were both employed by Virgin with combined service years of close to 20 years. It’s not just a job loss. It was a way of life and a career we cherished too, for me and the hundreds of others we’ve worked with. It’s an extremely sad time for all, as some of us have been here since the very beginning of the NZ operation and it breaks my heart seeing it all end so abruptly,” says one member.

Another member says the company hasn’t done enough to soften the blow.

“The tag line of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be ‘these are unprecedented times’. This phrase has been used to justify some of the most disappointing behaviour that I have seen from Virgin Australia to date. In the past month, my world and many others have been abruptly shaken, and rather than being given kindness, support and compassion from the company which I have served for the past 12 years, they have given me anguish, stress, and uncertainty.

“It will be very tough for many of us to move forward now, for people like me who have flown for the most of our lives, for the solo mothers who fly with us, for the pilots who have trained for a decade or more to get to where they were. The airline industry will not be what it was before. We are unlikely to find jobs working as crew again with much ease. My heart is broken from the sudden upheaval for my whānau and I feel dazed and lost.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says that the union isn’t convinced Virgin needed to close so quickly.

“The company should have applied for the wage subsidy and done more to ensure the continuity of employment and pay for their workers. We are urging all employers, in aviation and beyond, to take advantage of the government wage subsidy and not let the workers bear the full brunt of the downturn.”

“The global aviation industry is in a precarious state. Airlines has been in a race to the bottom for over a decade and workers are paying the price.

“Fortunately, E tū members have been totally united though this which has allowed them to secure the full redundancy package under their collective agreement, plus some additional travel benefits. This had been uncertain through the last few weeks, but members stood tall.

“However, 19 members who have been employed for less than a year aren’t entitled to redundancy – this is a real concern for those members and their families. It’s not good enough.”

ENDS

For more info and comment
Rachel Mackintosh, 027543 7943

New Zealand Post update

Lockdown payment

There have been many reports of companies such as Countdown paying a bonus to all essential workers who have continued to work through the lockdown. We have proposed to your employer a similar scheme for all NZ Post union members who work over this time. Watch this space, we’ll update you with progress.

Your safety at work

E tū has been in daily contact with the company about how they are managing health and safety during this lockdown. We have worked with the company to ensure that all essential workers are kept safe and provided with adequate PPE. This is the primary concern raised by most union members.

Below is of what Post promise will be provided at all sites:

ALL SITES (PRINTING, PROCESSING, CONTRACT LOGISTICS AND SERVICE DELIVERY) MUST HAVE:

  • Daily site cleaning provided by external cleaning suppliers at most sites. 

Note: There will be a small number of remote sites where we don’t have external cleaner providers and local leaders will need to implement their own alternative arrangements.  The risk profile at some smaller sites (eg. less number of people on site during the day, coupled with other controls) may also mean full daily cleaning is not necessary.  Each site will be assessed and risk based approach to cleaning protocols applied.

  • All basic sanitary items – soap (liquid or bar), toilet paper, paper towels for hand drying.  This remains the most effective personal hygiene approach.  Site based bottles or dispensers of hand sanitizer (alcohol or non-alcohol) are additional to this or could be a short term substitute.  Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be prioritised for delivery people who cannot easily access other hand washing facilities.
  • Access to toilets.
  • Surface (desks, counters, tables, kitchens, etc) cleaning products for wiping down in between externally provided cleaning.  These could include easily purchased disinfectant spray and wipe type products from local supermarkets.
  • Alcohol-wipes (or substitute) for shared equipment used by the same person during a shift – eg. Scanners, forklifts, Paxsters, etc.  Substitutes could include meths and disposable wipes or other disinfectant spray and disposable wipes.  Give the extremely low risk profile of other items such as barrow, roles cages, etc, the other controls (particularly regular hand washing and not touching your face) will minimise any risk.  Sites will discuss and determine which shared items are to be wiped down.
  • 2 mtr social distancing practices and monitor these are being applied.
  • Leaders making sure that all team members are well – ie. Regularly reminding them not to come to work if they are sick and intervening if anyone comes to work appearing unwell.  Leaders also need to ensure any vulnerable people, or primary carers of vulnerable people who live in the same house, are not coming into work.

ALL SERVICE DELIVERY SITES MUST ALSO HAVE:

  • Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer for delivery people (or substitute).  Short term substitutes could include, non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer, small bottle of liquid soap and bottle of water for rinsing and paper towels for drying, or baby wipes.

They have also stated: If mandatory requirements (or agreed substitutes) are not in place, then people should not be working.

What is printed above is an excerpt from a full paper provided by the company called “COVID-19 – Personal Protective Equipment and Services”. Ask your team leader for a copy.

Leave provisions

E tū has been continually advocating for our members who are unable to attend work for health or childcare reasons. We have asked the company to apply for any subsidies available on your behalf, and we have clearly stated what should be available for members who may not be able to attend work at the present time.

A comprehensive table has been produced by the company showing what is available to all workers. This has been sent to all delegates, and all team leaders should have a copy.

Key situations include:

In isolation due to: Leave type and process
 Being a vulnerable person (as defined by MoH criteria) Working from home if the job allows, or special paid leave (reviewed every 14 days).
Absence of essential worker due to childcare needs   The team leader will work with our member to determine whether there is an alternative carer within the household or if a “trust buddy” can be used. Where there are no other options for childcare, a leader may allow the employee to take special paid leave.  
Absence due to living with a person classed as vulnerable.   NZ Post’s medical advice is if they are taking all appropriate steps to protect employees from COVID-19, then the risk of bringing it home to a vulnerable person is low. However, some employees will live with people who are especially vulnerable, and they will address these examples on a case by case basis; special paid leave may be available.

Again, each site should have a full copy of this paper titled “COVID-19 – Managing Leave”. Ask your team leader for a copy.

Bargaining

E tū, PWUA and NZ Post will be working through the draft terms of settlement and other documents via videoconference on Thursday 2 April.

Following feedback from the E tū national delegate team and discussions between both unions, it has been agreed that ratification will be postponed temporarily. We will evaluate the situation regularly over the coming weeks and decide as soon as possible about how and when to proceed. All agreed increases will still be backdated to 1 April 2020.

Message to Fletchers – don’t cut pay!

E tū members at Fletcher Building Ltd are not satisfied with the company’s announcement that they intend to cut pay by up to 70%, while top executives keep earning megabucks.

Last night, the company sent a letter to all employees outlining their proposal which would see thousands of workers severely out of pocket for many weeks.

E tū negotiation specialist Joe Gallagher says that the unfairness is incredible.

“We expect companies to do the right thing and pay all workers 100% of their average weekly earnings, especially companies like Fletchers who can easily afford it,” Joe says.

“It’s frankly unbelievable that they want workers to take such a gigantic pay cut while the higher-ups, who earn up to half a million dollars a year, will take just a 15% cut in their pay.

“It shows a lack of respect for the workforce that keeps their company moving. It shows that they don’t seem to care about families getting through the crisis.

“This is not a struggling company. They have massive public and private contracts and could absolutely afford to keep everyone employed with the pay rates that union members have fought hard to secure. Instead, they’re passing the cost of COVID-19 directly onto the workers. It’s outrageous.”

Joe says that these issues should be addressed through proper consultation.

“We want proper consultation and engagement, but workers have only been given about 24 hours to consider the proposal.

“The Government subsidy enables Fletchers to pay 100% over the four weeks of lockdown, which allows meaningful time for proper engagement with the workforce.”

Joe says that Fletchers can’t unilaterally impose such changes across their workforce.

“The Employment Relations Act and our collective agreements are still fully in force. COVID-19 has not suspended our rights at work. The virus does not give license for companies to just do as they please.

“We’re very open to engaging properly through this process, but with the company already leaving workers out of crucial decision-making, we need to be clear: our bottom line is that workers are paid properly and given the job and wage security that they deserve and have fought for.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015