Category: COVID-19

E tū welcomes vaccine arrival

The expected early arrival of Aotearoa New Zealand’s first vaccine shipment is welcome news to E tū, the union representing many border and health workers.

The Government announced this morning that the first batch of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine should be rolled out from next week and will be delivered to border and MIQ workers and their close contacts as a priority.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says it is great news.

“This is a very important milestone for our COVID-19 response and takes us a step closer to getting this virus under control,” Annie says.

“It’s entirely appropriate that people working at the border and in MIQ will be vaccinated first, as they have the most risk of exposure.”

Annie says it is vital that workers are not disadvantaged by the vaccine roll-out.

“This means that workers need to be properly paid throughout the process. If they need time off work for the vaccination, that must be fully paid. If any part of the process prohibits them from working for a period, that time off should also be paid and not require workers to use up their leave.

“These basics will need to be followed for the whole roll-out, not just this first batch. As our healthcare workers and others begin getting vaccinated, all Kiwi workers deserve financial security for doing that which is in all of our best interests.

“E tū members across many industries have kept Aotearoa safe and thriving through the pandemic. Health workers, aviation workers, cleaners, security guards, food workers, and many more have shown exactly how essential they are. 

“The best way to thank these workers for their outstanding service is to make sure they are always properly paid for the work they do and any sacrifices they have to make.”

Annie also stressed the importance of following official advice and relying on the best information from the Ministry of Health.

“E tū members are encouraged to learn about the vaccine and why it’s so important in our fight against the pandemic. Excellent information is available on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine page.

“With proper protections, and good information, Aotearoa can once again show the world how it’s done.”

ENDS

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

Union welcomes border workers given priority for COVID-19 vaccine

E tū supports the Government’s commitment ensuring that border workers and their families are prioritised in the roll-out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said workers such as cleaners, nurses who undertake health checks in MIQ, security staff, customs and border officials, airline staff and hotel workers will be among the first to be vaccinated.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was given provisional approval by Medsafe today. The vaccines are expected to arrive in New Zealand by the end of the first quarter.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says the priority status is fantastic news for both border workers and their families.

“Protecting our members at work and keeping them and their families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an ongoing concern for E tū.

“It’s a relief to know that their health and safety is considered a top priority.”

Annie says the union would like to see workers in care professions, such as aged care and home support, also given priority after the roll-out to border workers.

“During the lockdown, we saw that PPE was extremely slow and was not done with these workers in mind. We also need to make sure that workers on the frontlines in healthcare are taken into account, with worker consultation and rights at the forefront of any future processes.”

ENDS

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

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