Category: Politics

E tū welcomes next steps for Fair Pay Agreements

E tū members are pleased to learn today about the next steps in the Government’s plan to implement Fair Pay Agreement legislation in this term of Government.

The Government has announced more details about what Fair Pay Agreements will look like, and their proposal is in line with recommendations made by the Fair Pay Agreement Working Group, which E tū supports.

E tū member and Auckland Council cleaner Josephine Wiredu, who is employed by a contractor, supports Fair Pay Agreements to secure decent pay across the cleaning industry.

“My colleagues and I have just won the Living Wage at our workplace. This is wonderful, after so long struggling to support my family on the minimum wage,” Josephine says.

“But we now need to get the Living Wage for the whole cleaning industry. A Fair Pay Agreement will mean cleaners will have certainty that we will get decent pay wherever we work.”

Fair Pay Agreements about more than just wages. They will also make it possible to set better conditions and protections, such as improved health and safety standards. Security guard Rosey Ngakopu says that’s desperately needed in her industry.

“Health and safety is the biggest issue at the majority of sites I have worked on,” Rosey says.

“We need regular welfare checks, decent facilities, and a lot more to keep us safe at work. Security guards are often overworked because it’s hard to fill positions on sites where guards don’t feel safe.”

“A Fair Pay Agreement will secure us better health and safety, as well as improving pay, training, and other conditions that guards need.”

The announcement today was made with the support of Geneva Healthcare, where Ana Palei works as a home support worker. She says a Fair Pay Agreement would address many of the main problems for workers in her industry.

“Work has become unbearable sometimes because of the lack of training and support for new people coming in, unrealistic expectations, unreasonable rosters, and demands which do not cater for any person’s health and wellbeing – especially for the vulnerable clients,” Ana says.

“When we won Equal Pay, our wages increased, which was great, but our hours reduced. Some home support workers feel we are now worse off. My hours have been reduced a lot.

“A Fair Pay Agreement means protecting us and our rights as human beings. It will promote equality in the workforce. It will prioritise health and safety and the wellbeing of each person, so that we can return home to our loved ones happy and not too stressed out.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says today’s announcement shows that the Government is on the right track with Fair Pay Agreements.

“This will be the best change at workplaces in decades,” Annie says.

“Setting fair wages and conditions across the board will stop the race to the bottom, which sees employers competing for contracts by paying poverty wages.

“Workers deserve better pay, better job security, better health and safety, and better work. Fair Pay Agreements will become an important part of the picture.

ENDS

For more info or comment:
Annie Newman, 027 204 6340

Annie and Ana are available for media interviews in Auckland at the announcement venue.

Security guards’ job terms and conditions legally protected from July

Working life for Aotearoa New Zealand’s security guards is about to get a whole lot more secure, now they’ll be legally entitled to keep their job with its terms and conditions if another security company takes over the contract they’re employed on.

On 1 April, the Government added security guards as a category of employees to be protected under Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act.

For security guards, this means maintaining the terms and conditions of their original employment, such as pay and accrued leave, even when their contract with one security company ends and is taken over by another.

The new legislation will come into effect on 1 July.

E tū delegate and security guard Jayson Ormsby says the news is a “great accomplishment” for those in the industry.

“I always found it odd that security work was never secure. I feel really glad and happy for those workers who will now be protected, who may have lost a lot of entitlements due to contract changes in the past.”

E tū Organiser Mat Danaher says the inclusion of security guards as protected workers under Part 6A is a really positive step forward.

“At last, security guards will have some certainty as to their pay rate and benefits when they are moving from one contract and employer to another.

“They’ll have access to the hard-earned leave they’ve accumulated and won’t have to start from zero each time a contract changes hands.”

Jayson says he hopes the new law will be the start of a better foundation of employment conditions for guards, who are also campaigning for Fair Pay Agreements or industry-wide regulation across employers.

“Security guards are usually paid different rates at different sites, and they don’t have control over the sites they are deployed to work at – Fair Pay Agreements are definitely needed.”

Mat says the Part 6A protection is the first of many changes that are needed in order to create real certainty and security in the lives of this group of workers.

“We see this as important milestone in working towards Fair Pay Agreements, which will stop the inevitable driving down of workers’ terms and conditions in a ‘race to the bottom’ as employers compete for contracts.

“All security guards deserve certainty in their employment conditions and to be paid at least the Living Wage, regardless of the site they are working on.

“These workers provide a valuable and important service, while also often facing personal risk on the job,” Mat says.

“E tū will continue to campaign with and on behalf of security guards to see them further protected and the industry transformed.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Mat Danaher, 021 336 519

Commendable increase to minimum wage but further rises needed

E tū welcomes the Government’s minimum wage rise and hopes its progression will continue to increase year-on-year to help lift more New Zealanders out of poverty wages.

From 1 April, the minimum wage will rise to $20 per hour – an increase of $1.10 up from $18.90.

The increase will benefit many groups of workers, including essential workers who are often the lowest paid, such as those in the cleaning, security, manufacturing, and aged care sectors.

E tū member Lavinia Kafoa says the increase will make a real difference to her pay packet, boosting it from what she earns hourly, which is just over the minimum wage.

“My rent is going up and I need to buy food for the kids – as single mother, it will really help me.”

E tū Team Leader Yvette Taylor says the rise is a commendable milestone, but the struggle is not over.

“This will make a substantial difference, but there’s still a long way to go before workers are receiving the Living Wage – the amount that workers need to truly survive and participate in society.

“We hope that the Government continues on this trajectory of increases to the minimum wage, to bring our national wage floor into line with what we know our essential workers need and deserve to live with choice and dignity.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Yvette Taylor, 027 585 6120

Support grows for workers to be paid 100% through COVID crisis

E tū, the biggest private sector union in Aotearoa New Zealand, says that workers should not lose out on pay when they are required to self-isolate, or otherwise miss work, because of COVID-19.

E tū has been calling for workers’ wages to lead the COVID-19 recovery, with no workers left out of pocket, throughout the pandemic. In a survey sent to all E tū members this week, 94% of respondents agreed that workers should be paid 100% for any time off due to COVID-19 testing, isolation, or Alert Level changes.

The survey also found that only 22% of respondents who had to miss work due to COVID-19 had been properly paid in full, with most others either losing pay or having to use their leave.

Other organisations are joining the call for 100%, even including the National Party, who are now calling for the Government to directly pay workers 100% of their wages when they have to self-isolate.

An E tū member, who prefers to remain anonymous, says she is still waiting to find out if she’ll be paid for a seven-day standdown period during the last lockdown when she was ill and awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

“This could have been dealt with two weeks ago when I first emailed my employer – I want to know if I’m covered under the Government’s COVID-19 support schemes or our collective agreement.”

She says she was also asked to return to work after she returned a negative COVID-19 test result, even though she still wasn’t well.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says workers need to feel confident that they will not be penalised financially should they need to stay home to keep themselves and others safe from the virus.

“The most important thing New Zealanders can do to support one another during this time is to ensure that they take all measures possible to protect themselves and others – including taking time off work to self-isolate if that’s required.

“There is a range of financial support available to both businesses and workers, but the Government needs to make sure full-time workers aren’t shouldering the financial burden of not being able to go to work.

“That means workers getting 100% of what they would usually be paid, and not having to use any of their leave.”

Workplaces also need to make sure employees know what assistance they are eligible to receive, she says.

Annie says: “We would urge the Government to go the extra mile here so those who cannot work due to COVID-19 aren’t left out of pocket and can still afford to pay their bills on the support payments available.

“Workers’ wages need to be at the forefront of our recovery, not only in Rebuilding Better after the pandemic, but as we join together in doing our best to keep our fellow Kiwis safe.”

ENDS

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

One step closer to Matariki holiday

Workers across the country are celebrating today as the Labour Government take a further step towards their pre-election commitment to make Matariki a public holiday.

The Government have announced that the first Matariki public holiday will be on 24 June 2022 and the date will change every year, similar to Easter.

E tū Co-President Muriel Tunoho says a mid-winter public holiday is long overdue.

“After Queen’s Birthday, Kiwi workers don’t get a public holiday until Labour Day in October. Matariki will give people a much-needed ray of sunshine in the middle of winter,” Muriel says.

“We are very happy that this will be a new public holiday. Matariki is unique and indigenous to Aotearoa and it is a very positive way our nation can all embrace it together.”

Muriel says that while the Government are making good progress on some workplace relations issues, other urgent issues remain.

“While an extra public holiday is fantastic news, E tū continues to campaign for many other changes that will fundamentally improve workplace relations in Aotearoa, such as the implementation of Fair Pay Agreements, paying the Living Wage to all workers in the public service, and strengthening industrial democracy.”

Sick leave extension needed now

E tū is calling on the Government to bring forward their plans to double the minimum sick leave entitlement, after yesterday’s announcement that the change will likely be in place in mid-2021.

E tū members have been campaigning to increase the minimum leave from five to 10 days, including by supporting the political parties that campaigned on the change in the general election.

Wellington cleaner Malia Motusaga is thrilled that the Government has confirmed their plan to increase minimum sick leave.

“The extra five days will benefit me and my kids – now I know that if I get sick I can stay home, and if any of my kids or my husband are sick I can look after them, too. I feel really good about it,” Malia says.

“I always run out of sick leave. I use it all up when the kids get sick, so there’s nothing there for me. When I go off sick, I go on leave without pay. I will really appreciate those extra five days.

“I just want to say thank you to the Government – It means a lot to us workers, especially us that have families and young kids.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says that while it is a great development, the Government should pass the law under urgency.

“This isn’t a complicated piece of legislation, or a new program, it’s mostly a case of changing the number ‘five’ to the number ‘10’ in legislation,” Annie says.

“We know the golden rule for a successful COVID-19 recovery: ‘Go hard and go early.’ This needs to extend to our most vulnerable workers now more than ever.

“Not giving workers enough time to look after themselves when they have any sickness, especially if they have COVID-19 symptoms, is a recipe for disaster. The Government have promised to do something great, but they must not do it too late.”

Annie says that sick leave legislation needs to be strengthened in other ways as well.

“Workers should be able to accumulate their leave for longer than the current statutory minimum of 20 days. E tū is calling for this to be extended to 25 days as a start.

“Sick leave also needs to be available to all workers immediately, not just after six months. Workers need to be able to take time off when they are sick no matter how long they have been with a particular employer.

“Without changing the eligibility, workers who begin their job after these changes become law wouldn’t get their ten days sick leave until 2022. Fixing the problem is simply more urgent than that.”

ENDS

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

A win for workers with new Workplace Relations Minister

E tū congratulates Labour’s Michael Wood on his appointment as Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety in the new Labour Government.

During his campaign, he emphasised the importance of workers’ rights, including the role Fair Pay Agreements would play in ensuring decent work and wages.

Michael began working in the union movement 18 years ago, has held roles as an organiser and negotiator, and is currently an E tū member.

An Assistant National Secretary at E tū, Annie Newman, says Michael has continually put workers at the very heart of his political life, by emphasising the need for equality in the workplace.

“Michael truly believes that all workers deserve a fair share of the economic cake and wants them to have a voice in decision-making that affects them.

“He has worked in Parliament for many years and is a vocal supporter of working people, including low-paid and migrant workers, as well as those in the service sector.”

Annie says Michael’s appointment is a very positive step forward for workers and union members.

“Michael has an extensive background in the union movement, starting from the ground up – first as a union organiser – that will serve him well in his new role as Workplace Relations Minister.”

“We are looking forward to see progress on some of the most pressing issues, such as Fair Pay Agreements, where we will work closely with the Minister to ensure effective and sustained legislative change in this area.”

ENDS

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

Election delivers high expectations for working people

E tū congratulates the Labour Party and the Green Party for their respective victories after the preliminary results of General Election 2020.

While the official count is yet to come, Labour have won enough votes to govern alone, and the Greens are back in with more MPs than last term.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says the result is great for workers in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The Labour and Green parties went into the election campaign with strong policies for workers.

“We congratulate both parties for this result, and in particular, would like to congratulate E tū leader Ibrahim Omer who has been elected as the first African MP to Parliament.”

Annie say the key policies for workers include Fair Pay Agreements, the Living Wage for workers employed by contractors in the state sector, and doubling the minimum sick leave entitlement.

“We calling for Labour’s workplace relations policies to be part of their commitments in the first 100 days.

“We expect them to move quickly on Fair Pay Agreements, which will transform the New Zealand workforce by providing industry standards for many of the country’s most vulnerable workers.”

E tū will continue to put pressure on the Government to deliver for workers and will hold them to account, Annie says.

“We have made more than 13,000 calls to E tū members and have engaged with parties and candidates throughout the campaign to ensure our issues are front and centre.

“We have high expectations for this Government. The election has given them one of the clearest mandates for progressive transformation in living memory.”

ENDS

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

Workers celebrate Labour’s new workplace policies

The Labour Party’s Workplace Relations and Safety policy release today will see workers across the country being much better off.

Policies announced include doubling minimum sick leave entitlements, continued minimum wage increases, implementing Fair Pay Agreements, and job protection for security guards.

Mareta Sinoti, a cleaner at the National Library, says that the extra sick leave is desperately needed, “especially in winter as people always get sick”.

“I work in a public area where we are careful about keeping people safe, especially with COVID-19 we are always cleaning and sanitising workplaces as part of our job. 

“It will be better for everyone when Labour give workers more sick leave so that we can look after our health and our families properly.”

E tū Assistant National Secretary Annie Newman says that the next government needs to prioritise Fair Pay Agreements, in the first 100 days, as a part of our economic recovery.

“Workers’ wages must lead the COVID-19 recovery. Labour’s policy goes some way towards ensuring that we stop the ‘race to the bottom’ for some of our most vulnerable workers.

“Fair Pay Agreements are a big part of that picture. We are one of the few countries in the OECD without a framework for sector-wide bargaining, and we need to catch up.

“The experience of COVID-19 has reminded us that workers need to be properly engaged in decision making at every level. That’s what Fair Pay Agreements are all about.”

ENDS

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