Category: Uncategorized

Worker-led Health and Safety programme for Māori, Pasefika, and migrants

E tū is making sure workers’ voices lead the way with the kick-off of a new health and safety programme for Māori, Pasefika, and migrant workers in manufacturing.

Funded jointly by the union and a Workplace Injury Prevention grant from ACC, E tū’s worker leadership programme addresses the high rate of workplace injuries among these groups in the sector.

The programme, Ngā Puna Whai Oranga, begins with a series of hui from August to November, followed by workplace workshops until the end of 2021.

A worker in the manufacturing industry for 18 years and the Women’s Committee Convenor on E tū’s National Executive, Wheeti Haenga says she’s really excited about the course and rapt that ACC are supporting the programme – a “big stride forward” for Māori, Pasefika, and migrant workers.

“We’ve never had a mentor for Māori or Pasefika in my workplace, and I think this programme will really help to bring our people – particularly our young people – together.”

E tū Food and Manufacturing Industry Council Convenor Gadiel Asiata says the programme has been “long-needed” in the manufacturing industry and is a valuable opportunity for workers to play a leading role in ensuring effective health and safety practices.

“We don’t want just a ‘tick-box’ exercise or flyer-on-a-noticeboard-type approach. Instead, we need processes that are championed by both employers and employees, with strong worker role models,” he says.

The two-year programme will start with around 150 workers, with room for more as the project expands.

After the hui conclude, onsite workshops will cover issues including cultural leadership, workplace risk-management tools, and overcoming barriers to leadership.

E tū Runanga Convenor Sharryn Barton says she hopes it will provide an opportunity for workers to connect with their cultural values in the workplace, given the high rates of injury for tāngata whenua.

“Health and safety is based in Manaakitanga, which means looking after people, your family, and the place you’re in. We need to recognise that we all have mana, and how well we look after others also determines our own wellbeing.”

Sharryn is grateful to ACC for its generous support of the programme. She says she hopes Ngā Puna Whai Oranga will inspire the same passion and commitment to improving conditions for manufacturing workers and their families as the late Helen Kelly achieved in the forestry and agricultural sectors.

ACC Implementation Manager, Workplace Safety and Levies, Virginia Burton-Konia saysthey are pleased E tū has been a successful grant recipient.

“We are delighted to be able to support a grant initiative that champions improved health and safety outcomes for Māori, Pasefika, and migrant workers.”

Ngā Puna Whai Oranga will link to existing health and safety programmes, such as WorkSafe’s Maruiti and Puataunofo, and will also be assessed by AUT’s Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Research.

E tū plans to continue Ngā Puna Whai Oranga until 2027.

For more information and comment:
Sharryn Barton, 027 462 4390

Working in high temperatures

29 January 2019

There are no legal limits as to what temperatures workers can safely work in. But your employers has a duty of care to provide a safe environment. 

You also have rights with respect to this.

  • If workers have reasonable grounds, they can refuse unsafe work but need to be available for other work.
  • If you think you’re working conditions are unsafe, say so – this is best done collectively.
  • Contact your union if you need help: we can support you in raising the issue with your employer.

We can also advocate for solutions such as the following:

  • Air conditioning – people can hire air-conditioning units. If this is not practical, ask for a unit to be placed in a room, such as the cafeteria or staff-room, so people can go there and cool off.
  • Request extra cooling off breaks, in the airconditioned room – this has worked well in the past in hospital kitchens and in some factories.
  • There is work-gear, such as cooling vests, which are chilled in a fridge, and used to cool the body. Ask your boss about these. Clothing like heavy cotton overalls traps heat. Light cotton is good.
  • Ask for water fountains on-site: if that’s not possible, make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • Many people work outdoors – you could ask the boss to consider a change of hours so people work when it’s cooler.
  • People should not do heavy work in high temperatures: ask you boss if you can defer this work until the weather cools down again.
  • Remember hats, sunscreen and light protective clothing.
  • Longer-term, bargain for acceptable heating and cooling systems in your workplace.

“Absolute hero” Kristine Bartlett wins New Zealander of the Year!

E tū is thrilled for our equal pay hero, Kristine Bartlett who tonight was named New Zealander of the Year.

It’s a huge honour and richly deserved, says Yvette Taylor, E tū Equal Pay Coordinator, who was with Kristine at tonight’s event to announce the winner.

“Kristine picked up the fight for equal pay on behalf of her workmates and she’s travelled this road for many years, helping win pay equity principles through the courts and seeing that through to an historic settlement for care and support workers.

“She has been a huge role model for women fighting for pay equity.”

Yvette says Kristine is also a trail-blazer for working women everywhere, by showing the power of standing firm and fighting for something they believe in.

“Kristine is the first to say she didn’t win equal pay for care and support workers alone. She has always paid tribute to her union and the many women who stood with her.

“It is rare that a working woman like Kristine, paid near- minimum wage, takes the national stage, captures the national imagination and goes on to achieve this prestigious title.

“It says much about Kristine’s qualities – her determination, commitment and stamina, all dedicated to winning a better, fairer pay deal for working women.

“She has won a place in the hearts and minds of women, with the name Kristine Bartlett now synonymous with the fight for equal pay.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described Kristine as an “absolute hero” when presenting the award. We wholeheartedly agree!

ENDS

For further information, contact:

Yvette Taylor E tū Equal Pay Coordinator, ph.  027 431 8486