Category: COVID-19

Government walking the talk on the Living Wage for new MIQ guards

E tū is pleased with the Prime Minister’s announcement today that the Government is looking to directly employ any new security guards needed at managed isolation and quarantine facilities and guards will be paid at least the Living Wage.

Security guard Rosey Ngakopu says it is great news and very important.

“So many guards are doing really hard mahi through the COVID-19 crisis, and we need to be paid a wage that reflects that,” Rosey says.

“We’ve had to go above and beyond, doing extra duties and quickly reacting to the changing situation. We’re doing really important work that’s a big part of keeping the community safe at the moment.”

Rosey gets paid the Living Wage at one of her sites and says it has significantly improved her life.

“I now have a savings account. I can afford the things that my son and I need. I’ve been able to reduce my hours, so I can have more family time, rest, and even a social life!”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says it shows the Government is finally honouring the Living Wage promise that all three Government parties made in the 2017 election campaign.

“E tū members have kept the pressure on to make sure the Government pay the Living Wage to all workers in the core public sector like cleaners and security guards,” Annie says.

“Just last month, the Government delivered the Living Wage for guards at the Ministry of Social Development. We now need to see the Living Wage in all government contracts.

“Throughout the crisis, we’ve been constantly reminded just how important and often difficult these jobs are. Higher wages lead to healthier and more vibrant communities. It makes perfect sense for the Living Wage to be an important factor in the COVID-19 response and rebuild.”

ENDS

For more information or comment
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

COVID-19: 17 August update

Dear members,

Auckland is now in Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country in Alert Level 2 until 11:59pm on Wednesday 27 August.

While we can be pleased that the current outbreak hasn’t made a full Level 4 lockdown necessary, these heightened alert levels still create a massive disruption for many. There is already renewed pressure on some E tū members’ jobs and many more are dealing with difficult changes at the workplace.

The most important thing to do right now is follow the public health advice. You should always get the most accurate information from th COVID-19 website: www.covid19.govt.nz

We’re compiling as much information for E tū members as possible about how the current situation affects different workplaces. Keep an eye on www.etu.nz/covid19 for regular updates.

Today, the Prime Minister announced her decision to delay the General Election until 17 October. For E tū, this means four extra weeks to make sure we are getting everyone enrolled to vote, engaged with election issues, and ready to elect a government that prioritises workers and our communities. Senior E tū staff will be doing a Facebook live update and Q&A tonight at 8pm, all about the latest developments

COVID-19: 13 August update

Dear E tū members,
 
As we find ourselves facing a new lockdown period, we wish to reassure you that E tū remains fully able and ready to advise and support our members throughout this time.
 
E tū Auckland area members are advised to work from home where possible from 12pm on Wednesday 12 August for a minimum of three days. Essential services and businesses that are able to operate safely will continue as per the Government’s COVID-19 guidelines.

All others on Level 2 must take COVID-19 health protection measures very seriously over that period.
 
Please keep an eye on www.covid19.govt.nz for the latest info.
 
Our staff in Auckland must operate from home, but we are equipped to do that. We are also aware that the Alert Level periods may be extended.
 
We know that many of our members are essential workers or may be working over this period, and we thank you for the wonderful services you  provide to your whanau and communities all the time, including during our last lockdown.

We were here for our members through the last lockdown. We had your back. We remain here for you.
 
In this lockdown period, please remember:

  • You are entitled to your full ordinary pay when required to be at home, unless your employment agreement says otherwise.  Contact your delegate or an organiser at 0800 186 466 if you’re unsure.
  • Members are strongly advised not to agree to be paid less or to use leave entitlements in place of ordinary pay.
  • Employers of members continuing to work must have clear COVID-19 safety protocols in the workplace and provide adequate PPE to protect your health and safety in as far as is practical.
  • Members, who are vulnerable due to health concerns or immune compromised, are advised to take extra precautions if continuing to work. Discuss any concerns with your GP.

If you are in doubt then talk with your delegate, health and safety reps, employer, or contact E tū on 0800 1 UNION or [email protected]. Please understand that given the circumstances, this may mean longer waiting times than usual.

Now is a good time to remember that E tū has core principles for how we handle COVID-19, which are the building blocks of our Rebuild Better campaign:

  • Prioritise community health and wellbeing
  • Workers’ wages leading the recovery
  • Keep and create decent jobs
  • Union members involved in all decisions
  • End inequality

For more details on this, check out: www.rebuildbetter.nz

We’ll keep our website up to date with all the latest info as well: www.etu.nz 
Above all, take care, be kind, and take COVID-19 precautions.

Thank you,
Bill Newson
E tū National Secretary

Air NZ workers ‘devastated’ as more than 1300 lose jobs

More than 1300 workers will lose their jobs as Air New Zealand has announced staffing cuts affecting all routes. 

Long- and mid-haul workers will lose 950 jobs, out of 1600. 

For domestic crew, 300 workers will be made redundant across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. 

Regional airlines are also affected, with a combined loss of 97 jobs between Air Nelson and Mt Cook Airline.

One E tū cabin crew member, who wishes to remain anonymous, says they are “absolutely devastated”. 

“Having seen first-hand the work done by our union members, and still having this result, is crushing. Air New Zealand values its staff less than its profit and shareholders, which so sad to see unfold.” 

“The company’s process has been rushed, overbearing, heavy-handed, and uncompromising. I don’t believe the feedback in the consultation process was ever truly evaluated or applied.” 

The member says their future is uncertain, and they expect they will “slip into the thousands and thousands of job applicants” and look at retraining for completely different work. 

They say Air New Zealand needs to “re-establish the culture that they have kicked to the curb and re-establish the trust they have shattered”.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says many more workers are also devastated. 

“It couldn’t be much worse for some of Air New Zealand’s loyal cabin crew,” Rachel says. 

“Many are completely gutted – they have committed years to making Air New Zealand a world class airline, only to be out of work with huge uncertainties about ongoing careers in their industry.” 

Rachel says E tū has been calling for a better process at Air New Zealand since the start of the crisis. 

“Air New Zealand employees need the company to be much more transparent, accommodating, and compassionate if they are to build their way back to being a strong national carrier. 

“E tū is calling for Air New Zealand, other companies, and the Government to rebuild better – making sure we keep and create decent jobs and have union members involved in all decisions.”

ENDS 

For more information and comment: 
Rachel Mackintosh, 027 543 7943 

Air NZ workers want offshored jobs back as redundancies announced

Air New Zealand engineers are calling for their company to bring work back from overseas and protect the communities of skilled kiwis who need work here.

Workers were told on Friday the company plans to axe almost 300 engineering and maintenance jobs as part of their radical downsizing. E tū members think maintenance jobs that were offshored to Singapore in 2014 should be brought back to New Zealand.

Peter Lees, E tū delegate and licensed aircraft engineer in Christchurch with more than 30 years’ experience, says that now is the time for Air New Zealand to serve the people of New Zealand.

“Our engineers produce work recognised around the world as being of the highest quality and take their responsibility to look after passengers very seriously. The company needs to do the right thing and do everything possible to save as many high-skilled jobs as it can.”

E tū Negotiation Specialist Paul Graham says bringing skilled jobs back to New Zealand is the right thing to do.

“Sending work offshore where labour standards are lower was never the responsible move,” Paul says.

“Engineers’ attempts to discuss the issue have been rebuffed by management. They do not want to discuss the alternatives and are ignoring the insights and abilities of experienced engineers. It breaks their commitment to proper engagement with their workforce.

“With last week’s Budget focus on saving jobs, and with the significant public funding Air New Zealand has received, the company now needs to play its part as our national carrier.

“E tū’s Rebuild Better campaign is all about having workers at the heart of our COVID-19 recovery. The key principles include a wages-led recovery, involving union members in all decisions, and keeping and creating decent jobs. It’s clear that Air New Zealand are not on the path to rebuilding better, and that needs to change.”

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Paul Graham, 0272046337

Air New Zealand workers ready to go with a positive message

E tū Air New Zealand members are calling to be part of deciding the future of the industry, as domestic flying starts again.

E tū has over 5000 members at Air New Zealand. As part of their union’s Rebuild Better campaign, they have been sending the company Two Words for Air New Zealand. These two words describe what workers want the airline to do or be.

Members are calling for “Collaborative Solutions”, saying that Air New Zealand is “One Whanau”. These messages and others can be seen online at www.rebuildbetter.nz/twowords

E tū’s Head of Aviation, Savage, says: “Air New Zealand is a success because the workers care about the customer experience. E tū members just want to get going again and those facing redundancy want to see a fair and positive pathway back to work as the flights increase.

“In the midst of all of the heartbreak and hurt caused by lay-offs, workers want to preserve the high standards they had and to be part of defining the future course for the industry.

“Union members have helped create a workplace where workers have a say so calling out what they think is important is a natural part of what they do. They don’t want to lose the positive things they have achieved in the last five years.

“They just want to create a better airline and their Two Words for Air New Zealand is something that speaks to this future.”

ENDS

NB: Due to Air New Zealand’s staff policies, photographs in the Two Words campaign cannot be used by media without permission of the person in the photo.

For more information and comment: Savage, 027 590 0074

To organise using some of the photos: Gina Lockyer, 021 586 195

Budget 2020 supports low-income working families

E tū is commending the Government for the support of low-income households and a just transition for workers in precarious employment in Budget 2020: Rebuilding Together.

The Budget, which sees the Government spending $50bn across our economy, has a strong focus on both jobs and workers.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says that there is a lot for workers to celebrate.

“To start with, the extension of the wage subsidy scheme is critical for workers who are employed by businesses that are struggling to make it through this crisis,” Annie says.

“The wage subsidy scheme worked very well to keep money in people’s pockets and keep workers connected to their employers. Continuing on from that success is a no-brainer.

“The emphasis on creating new and decent jobs that are socially and environmentally sustainable is an important step towards a just transition for workers who are in precarious employment, such as our E tū members in aviation.

“Large numbers of workers will need to rapidly retrain, and E tū supports vocational education being funded for a wide range of jobs, from construction to community care.

“Low paid workers have always depended on social services and support because their wages are insufficient for them to live a decent life. The big investment in food in schools and housing are critical pieces of the puzzle.”

E tū member and Auckland Council cleaner, Meleane Moala, says the new social support will help her family.

“I only earn $1200 a fortnight, but my rent is $530 per week. If I am given the opportunity to live in a state house, it will help with home security and I’ll be able to save money,” Meleane says.

“I have a 7-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 3-year-old, so the school lunch programme is really good news. It will be very helpful my family and other families that can’t always afford healthy lunches for our kids.”

However, Annie says that more needs to be done for our most vulnerable.

“A striking omission from the Budget is the much-need boost to benefit levels.

“The basic benefit is totally inadequate for people to survive on. The Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommended increasing the main benefit level by up to 47% – this is still urgent.

“Further, benefits need to be individualised so that when people lose their jobs, they get the support they need regardless of their family circumstances. Otherwise you see household losing a full income with very little extra support.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

Tempers rise at Temperzone

E tū members at Temperzone say they have been let down by their employer, citing a lack of good faith and basic respect.

Temperzone, a company that manufactures and distributes air conditioning and ventilation systems in Auckland, had forced many workers to use up all of their leave and take leave in advance.

The company also chose not to apply for the wage subsidy, meaning that workers weren’t necessarily given the 80% of their normal earnings while off work.

E tū member Simi Lo says the company’s behaviour is taking a huge toll on him and his family.

“The uncertainty, the lack of good faith, and the apparent lack of concern for us workers have been a huge stress on our family, causing a lot of heartache and sleepless nights,” Simi says.

“Advanced leave has been my only option – I had a family holiday over Christmas, so I either had to take advance leave or have no income at all. How would I have been able to pay the bills and feed my family?”

Many other Temperzone workers are in a similar situation, which will create many issues in the near future, Simi says.

“Some people don’t have enough annual leave or sick leave throughout the year, it’s only April and they’re expecting us to use up all our leave, but what happens if we have important family matters that we need to attend some times throughout the year? How are we going to apply for a day off if we run out of leave by then, and what happen if we get sick? Does that mean we still come to work if we’re sick?”

Pena Tamamasui, head site delegate at Temperzone, says that workers aren’t feeling respected.

“Union members at Temperzone feel betrayed,” Pena says.

“These are smart, skilled workers who have been loyal to their company and have reached out to partner with the company to get through this. This crisis is not the time for top-down decision making. Our members simply want transparency and fair consultation, keeping our people at the heart of any response.” 

E tū organiser Jen Natoli says that the company’s decision to leave workers out in the cold is a worrying sign, especially with possible redundancies on the cards.

“Temperzone have put out a proposal to axe up to 65 jobs at the site, which is already stressful enough for our members,” Jen says.

E tū members reported late Monday they had received letters with their selection criteria score but at the time of this release neither E tū nor FIRST unions had heard officially from the company.

“Now is the time for us as a country to pull together so that NZ owned and operated manufacturing companies scale up and become the backbone of a decent recovery.  Now is the time to rebuild better, and that means keeping Kiwi businesses alive. Cutting jobs now will do the opposite.  We call on the company to work through alternatives with us and the government to support our crucial manufacturing sector.

“This company manufactures products that help make homes healthy in a time when we have a housing shortage. There is a huge place for manufacturers like Temperzone as we rebuild, not only for our homes but also for providing decent jobs for our communities at a time when our economy needs to restart.”

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Jen Natoli, 027 591 0041

Aged care review “a slap in the face” for excluded workers

E tū members in aged care are appalled to learn that the Ministry of Health are charging on with a review into COVID-19 affected aged care facilities without participation from workers, their unions, or people who live in the residential aged care facilities and their families.

The review, quietly announced in a media release on Thursday, will be conducted by public health officials and employer representatives, but no worker, union, or client representatives are on the panel.

Aroha Carney, an aged care worker in Southland, says that workers have already proven to be the important voices in this discussion.

“During the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown, PPE was being rationed in my facility very strictly, purely due to low supply. It was a shock to my colleagues and me as many of us felt we were at such high risk – and putting our families at risk as well,” Aroha says.

“It wasn’t until our union fought for our right to have free an unpoliced access to PPE that we started getting the changes that we need. It shows how important union members are in decision making.

Aroha and her colleagues think that many of the current practices around isolation continue to be sub-standard.

“When new residents arrive, while they may be isolated, the staff that care for them are still going between different residents and so that contact continues. We’ve also encountered problems with new and returning residents wandering around constantly.

These residents haven’t been effectively isolated at all, ultimately putting all other residents and staff at a much higher, unnecessary risk.

“The review needs workers like us properly involved so we can explain these experiences and work with others on the solutions. We’re the experts.”

E tū Director Sam Jones says that E tū has been calling for a proper review since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Our members have been blowing the whistle on issues like PPE, staffing levels, and isolation practices throughout the pandemic. We’ve been calling for a proper review the whole time. With such limited scope and representation, this review is far from adequate,” Sam says.

“To keep workers, unions, and residents out of such an important review feels like a slap in the face.”

Sam says that the review will barely scratch the surface.

“This is basically just another form of self-regulation which has proven to not work across industries which will only produce what the providers and DHB’s allow it to. Having an independent resident and worker voice is the only thing that will lead to proper preventative measures to stop further clusters developing in residential aged care ensuring all workers and residents are protected. This is not the time for complacency.”

Sam says that E tū is asking the Ministry for an urgent “please explain” and to make sure there is adequate participation in the review.

“It’s not too late for them to fix this, both to improve the current review and to make sure workers voices are properly heard in any reviews and audits going forward.”

Sam says the issue highlights the importance of E tū’s recently launched Rebuild Better campaign, which outlines a way forward for keeping workers at the heart of the recovery.

“Two of the five key principles in our Rebuild Better campaign are prioritising community health and wellbeing, and workers involved in all decisions. Full worker, union, and client participation in a much wider review is the necessary approach.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Sam Jones, 027 544 8563
Kirsty McCully, 027 204 6354