Category: Engineering, Infrastructure, and Extractions

Salaries still slashed as Fletchers proposes to axe up to 1000 Kiwi jobs

Up to 1000 workers at Fletchers are facing possible redundancy, after having already been on reduced pay during lockdown.

Since early April, workers have been on a 12-week pay reduction plan, which saw them receiving less than their normal weekly income – a change over which they say they were not properly consulted.

E tū understands employees now back at work are on reduced days and hours.

To add insult to injury, Fletchers has now announced a proposal to cull up to 1000 New Zealand workers, about 10% of their workforce.

Fletchers received almost $68 million from the Government’s wage subsidy scheme.

E tū Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher says to rebuild better, New Zealand needs to keep and create decent jobs.

“This means secure employment especially for the critical infrastructure workers we desperately need to recover our economy.”

E tū’s representative for engineering and infrastructure on the National Executive, Bruce Habgood, says the rebuild needs to be about people over profits.

“We’re calling on the Government to step in and ensure we keep Kiwi jobs in New Zealand.

“It’s about allowing the economy to recover justly,” Bruce says.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Joe Gallagher 027 591 0015

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

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

Climate Change Survey: E tū! Your voice is needed!

Climate change and its impacts are upon us. Our industries face particular challenges, yet in New Zealand we have little information on what we as a society think about this or what we should do. 

This research survey is being conducted through Auckland University of Technology and invites every union member to give their feedback on issues to do with climate change, Just Transition, and what is happening in workplaces on these issues.  This will be the largest survey to date on the issue and will provide important information that unions can use for planning and education.

Participation is voluntary and confidential, and the survey will take around 15 minutes to complete. Your union encourages all members to complete the survey. Please click HERE to start the survey and for further details on the project.

Time

by Sean Hindson

We have time, right now – we all have time. I say this because we have time in the form of the moment we are in together; right now.

It’s is the ‘right now’ that we all share, regardless of our beliefs, our fears, our worries, our hopes, or our views on the world.

We can take this ‘right now’ to acknowledge that we are vulnerable, acknowledge that we have made mistakes, acknowledge that we have to (not need to) but have to come together.

The planet we belong to is screaming at us, demanding change. It is showing us through fires, typhoons, floods, and storms that we have to change. The planet is demanding change, it’s demanding it because it too is vulnerable.

Being vulnerable, as we and the planet are, is the catalyst for change.

I have been in discussion with people who deny the fact the world is changing. I have had the ‘what ifs’ thrust upon me. I have had my conversations cut short by those people who refuse to acknowledge the absolute certainty that the impact of humans has transformed our earth.

These people seem to be strong now, but are essentially oblivious to the change that is required by us all to enhance the lives of the generations of youth to whom we will entrust this earth.

Those of us aware of our collective vulnerability are already forging greater change, fighting by looking inwards and having an awareness of the fear we all have, shifting the way we think and allowing ourselves the courage to think differently

Take a moment to think about the courage it takes – undiluted courage – to know that vulnerability is a strength.

The first steps are already being taken around the world. In New Zealand, the Just Transition is to my mind, an acknowledgment of that vulnerability which can be such a strength.

So where do workers and people tie into this? They are at the core, the foundation. Workers are the ones who will essentially have the power to change these mindsets.

We have to change ourselves. It is painful to look in the mirror, acknowledge our faults, and be true to ourselves and each other.

Workers mostly have more to worry about than the long-term future. When we work together, truly work together, to shift those mind sets, to force change in those businesses that do not allow workers to have standards of living that afford them the ability to think compassionately about more than just the immediate future… then we shift the world.

In essence that is the key.

Workers in our regions should be in a position where they can think about the long-term future while acknowledging and appreciating the moment they are in.

This ability comes with equal standards of pay, training, and that most precious of assets… time. Time to share moments with community, family and friends. Time to converse and be open with those that surround you.

I personally reckon we have known this for a very long time. My question is: why has it taken so long for businesses to allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to care in a truly honest and deep way?

After all, time marches on for businesses, too. No one is exempt from the effects of what we are doing to ourselves and our environments, because our environments are, in the end, ourselves.

An update for our Metals members

Dear members,

Your bargaining team met for talks with Metals employers over the last three days – one day of claims and two days of bargaining.

The big issue for us this year is the rise in the minimum wage and the effect this has had on the relativities of paid rates for those covered by the Metals MECA.

There were valuable discussions around how to resolve this and now both parties have agreed on a common approach.

We have adjourned bargaining for the moment while we await the employers’ response on some issues.

There is another day set aside for bargaining on Friday, 19 July but discussions are continuing via video conference.

Regards,

Your bargaining team.

E tū stands up for a ‘Just Transition’

Jacinda Ardern is correct when she says the world is moving on towards lower-carbon emissions and away from dependence on fossil fuels. There are internationally recognised carbon change targets and New Zealand’s coalition government is committed to aligning with those and being carbon-neutral (achieving net zero emission of carbon) by 2050.

The coalition government has established the Independent Commission for Climate Change to consider a pathway of transition towards that carbon-neutral economy and society.

Even Cameron Madgwick, the Chief Executive of the industry body, Petroleum Exploration and Production New Zealand accepts the world is moving towards lower-emission fuels.

Many E tū members feel a deep sense of responsibility to ensuring a sustainable planet for their grandchildren.

However, many E tū members work in carbon-linked jobs and those jobs are potentially affected. Our members work in mining, gas exploration and production, steel and aluminium making, electricity generation and aviation.

Many other members work in engineering and services supporting these operations.  E tū members in the West-Coast and Huntly mining operations, at NZ Aluminium and NZ Steel, Marsden Point and in the on and off-shore Taranaki oil fields support their local community economies with wages and conditions included in good union employment agreements.  

We stand up for those workers and their families and communities just as we do for all other 54,000 E tū members.

We know that Kiwi workers were the ones who paid the price for the economic and deregulatory transformation of the 1980s and 1990s; thrown on the scrap-head as their jobs disappeared or were replaced by low-wage, insecure work.  Our provincial regions in particular suffered.

We don’t stand for that.

E tū believes NZ should lead the way with a strategy of ‘Just-Transition’ in which we start planning now for the transition away from a carbon-based economy while ensuring that working people and their communities do not bear the brunt of this structural adjustment.

E tū is part of an international union movement, led by the peak global union organisation ITUC, that advocates for meaningful public and private sector strategies to ensure that good jobs and employment and income-related support is available as we transition out of carbon-linked jobs.

We call that a ‘Just Transition’ into new employment opportunities, and the work must start now on what is needed in such a Just Transition strategy. We can’t wait until it’s too late.  

We are not interested in some plan that puts a couple more case officers in regional WINZ offices.  We need a strategy for new high-value jobs and other forms of support that are  real, practical, relevant, resourced and sustainable. 

New Zealand can lead the way in this.  There are some promising examples overseas where unions have played an effective role in transitional strategies.  Germany and Scandinavia provide well known examples, but we can learn practical lessons from the transition from shale oil in Alberta, Canada and, closer to home, the framework of approach in the electricity sector in Australia.

We believe that the coalition government’s Climate Change Commission should have a central focus on employment-support related strategies and that this should start now.

That transitional pathway must also realistically consider the practical steps required to maintain our economic and employment capability serving our business and infrastructure as we work towards the target.

It is widely recognised, even by mainstream environmental groups, that natural gas is a lower emitter than thermal coal as a power source and that gas is a stepping-stone as we move away from thermal coal dependence.

Natural Gas is an important part of the strategy towards 2050.  It is needed to replace coal as the primary power source in industries like dairy production and as back-up for winter peaks in demand for energy production.  Gas is extensively used, for example, to power large boilers providing energy to manufacturing plant, hospitals, schools and hotels etc.

The amount of gas that is required during the transition to non-carbon and sustainable energy is not known at this point.  The coalition government’s Climate Change Commission should research and identify the amount of gas required at stages throughout the transition so that we can all have consensus on a clear plan.   

In New Zealand there is currently seven to ten years of permitted gas and oil exploration left. It is worth bearing that important role of gas in mind and allowing the Climate Change Commission to identify the real need.

Some will say that E tū is compromised in having a voice on climate change given we represent the interests of so many members in carbon-linked jobs.  We don’t shy away from that. It’s our job to stand up for working people. Miners played a key role in the struggles to establish a New Zealand union movement and a political voice for working people in parliament and we are really proud of that legacy.  Our members in mining, gas exploration and production live in communities that depend on their incomes.

But we understand and accept the challenges in looking to the future and we have a strong voice to offer on behalf of working people in the transformation to come.  Our bottom line is that we learn from recent history and ensure the interests of working people and their communities are paramount in that transformational journey.    

Bill Newson

National Secretary E tū

E tū: Summit kickstarts Just Transition debate

E tū is looking forward to attending the Just Transition Summit in New Plymouth which begins tomorrow.

The union has a team of eight regional delegates as well as senior officials and executive members attending the Summit, which follows months of work by the Taranaki community on a draft roadmap for the transition of the oil and gas region from a high-emissions to a low-emissions (net zero) economy.

E tū Senior Industrial Officer, Paul Tolich says the Summit will kick-start debate on this transformation, not just in Taranaki, but also nationwide.

“We welcome the initiative of the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern in convening this Summit,” says Paul.  

“This is the beginning of the roadmap for the Taranaki region which will also serve as a pilot for the rest of the country.

“Oil and gas have provided a prosperous living for many people in Taranaki, and it is the source of many jobs for our members. But the region will face huge changes in the years ahead as industries reduce emissions.

“This is the start of a national response to the economic, social, cultural and environmental challenges we face over the coming decades, as we manage climate change,” he says.

Paul describes this as the biggest challenge to the nation since the radical restructuring of the 1980s and 90s.

“There was no plan then to deal with the fallout for working people and their communities, many of which were decimated by the changes,” says Paul.

“What happened then is at the root of much of the inequality we face today, and we are not prepared to have that happen again,” he says.  

“We need an economic development plan, so the change is managed to preserve quality, well paid jobs and healthy new industries. It is of the greatest importance that we work to ensure this transition is a success over the years and decades to come.”

ENDS

For more information, contact:

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