E tū ready to initiate first Fair Pay Agreements – E tū

Source: Etu Union

The Fair Pay Agreements Bill is finally about to become law, as it gets its Third Reading in Parliament later this afternoon.

Fair Pay Agreements will set minimum standards for pay and conditions across entire industries, making it one of the most transformative changes for workers in Aotearoa New Zealand in decades.

E tū members and supporters made over 1,000 unique submissions on the bill, and the final text reflects what is needed for a great new system.

The private sector union has been campaigning for Fair Pay Agreements since 2017 and is prioritising the security and cleaning industries to be first in line for a Fair Pay Agreement.

Rosey Ngakopu, a Wellington-based security guard and E tū member leader, couldn’t be happier with the development.

“I’m super excited,” Rosey says. “It’s been a long journey. Now it’s about getting cleaners and security guards to sign on and sign up. Then we can really win the pay and conditions we know we deserve. Yippee!

“My message to all security guards and cleaners in Aotearoa is don’t wait – sign up for our Fair Pay Agreements today.”

E tū Team Leader, Sarah Thompson, says the union is excited about this opportunity.

“Workers across Aotearoa New Zealand are taking this opportunity to create better lives for ourselves, our families, our communities, and future generations,” she says.

“Winning a Fair Pay Agreement will mean better pay and standard conditions for everyone in our industries.

“At a time with huge cost of living pressures, this will be huge for some of the most vulnerable workers in Aotearoa, especially the essential workers who kept us going during the pandemic.”

Security guards and cleaners can now sign up to initiate their Fair Pay Agreements at www.etu.nz/signfpa

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Sarah Thompson, 027 591 0024

Rosey and Sarah will both be available for media around Parliament at the time of the Third Reading.

Uber drivers win employment rights in historic court case – E tū

Source: Etu Union

New Zealand Uber drivers have won employment rights, with an historic ruling against the multi-billion dollar global giant arriving the morning after Labour Day.

Following similar examples in the UK and France, New Zealand’s Employment Court today found that four current and former Uber drivers were employees, not independent contractors, in a case jointly taken by and E tū and FIRST Union.

The judgment , which sought a declaration of employment status for the four drivers, found that “Each of the plaintiff drivers was in an employment relationship when carrying out driving work for Uber and is entitled to a declaration of status accordingly”, noting that while such a declaration attaches only to the individual applicants of the case, “… it may well have broader impact, particularly where, as here, there is apparent uniformity in the way in which the companies operate, and the framework under which drivers are engaged.”

“This is a landmark legal decision not just for Aotearoa but also internationally – what a way to finish Labour weekend!” said Anita Rosentreter, FIRST Union strategic project coordinator.

“Uber has bullied its way into cities all over the world with a deliberate strategy of breaking the law and exploiting drivers – that ends here in Aotearoa today.”

The case was filed in July 2021 and heard in the Employment Court in Wellington by Chief Judge Christina Inglis in 2022.

The unions representing the drivers sought a declaration that they were employees and therefore entitled to the rights and protections under New Zealand employment law, including the minimum wage, guaranteed hours, holiday pay, sick leave, KiwiSaver contributions, the right to challenge an unfair dismissal, and the right to unionise and collectively bargain.

The four driver witnesses in the case were Julian Ang, Mea’ole Keil, Nureddin Abdurahman, and Praful “Bill” Rama. Mr Rama said, “Finally, there is justice for Uber drivers. This will mean drivers will have a say, not just be subject to the control of Uber.”

“We are employees. It’s not a question of what we signed or what Uber says we are. The Court has looked at the reality of our relationship with Uber and said that drivers are employees.”

Ms Rosentreter said that in light of the verdict, FIRST Union was now accepting Uber drivers as members and would immediately move to initiate collective bargaining with the company.

The union is also acting on behalf of drivers to claim backpay for wages, holiday pay and other entitlements from Uber.

“Anyone who has driven for Uber – even if they no longer do so now – is encouraged to enquire with the union,” said Ms Rosentreter.

There are more than 7,000 Uber drivers in New Zealand, but the misclassification of workers is increasingly common in other industries too, like construction and care work.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh said the decision has wide-reaching implications.

“The stakes here are high – no industry is safe from being absorbed into the gig economy and, without decisions like this one, decent work is out of reach for gig workers who have little or no rights and protections,” said Ms Mackintosh.

“We’re even seeing gig work for the heroes of the Covid pandemic – many home support workers are now only able to pay their bills if someone swipes right.”

The decision comes as the Government is set to announce a crack-down on worker misclassification, out of its Better Protections for Contractors workstream. Ms Rosentreter said, “The Government should carefully consider the application of this case to other instances of worker misclassification as well. Uber has taken this practice to new extremes, but they are by no means the only company engaging in it.”

“Over the past 30 years, we have seen an erosion of fundamental work rights, but we now have an opportunity to make things right. Future generations of workers are counting on us.”

CLICK HERE for a video produced by FIRST Union and E tū,  featuring some of the Uber drivers who took this case as they the implications of the verdict.

ENDS

For more information contact:

Anita Rosentreter, Strategic Project Coordinator, FIRST Union
Email: anita.rosentreter@firstunion.org.nz, Mobile: +64 (0)21 626 094

Rachel Mackintosh, Support Director, E tū
Email:  rachel.mackintosh@etu.nz, Mobile: +64 (0)27 543 7943

Praful ‘Bill’ Rama, Uber driver
Email:  billdograma@gmail.com, Phone: +64 (0)21 882 230

Ovato redundancies highlight need for income insurance – E tū

Source: Etu Union

Over 100 workers have lost their jobs and are set to be out of pocket, as Auckland printing company Ovato goes into liquidation.

Ovato NZ announced its closure earlier this year. However, outstanding debts to IRD mean that workers may only end up receiving the statutory cap of $25,480, no matter how much they are owed.

Workers have outstanding wages, leave, and notice payments owed to them. There is also a claim for unpaid wages from the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

E tū Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher says that workers are really feeling the pressure.

“Through no fault of their own, Ovato’s workers are faced with the prospect of losing money that is rightfully theirs,” says Joe.

“It’s hard enough to make ends meet during this cost of living crisis. Without money that they’ve already earned, things are looking really tough for these workers.

“Ovato should be pulling out all stops to make sure that their workers are looked after properly, first and foremost. The workers have kept the company going for all these years – the company must pay out in full.”

Joe says that this insecurity shows why the proposed New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme is so important.

“It’s not fair that workers are bearing the full brunt of this development. People can have the best redundancy provisions in the world, but it doesn’t mean much if there isn’t the money to pay it out.

“Instead, E tū strongly supports the New Zealand Income Insurance Scheme (NZIIS), so that there is a universal mechanism to make sure workers have enough money to make ends meet when faced with job insecurity.

“It might be too late for the workers at Ovato, but we need to make sure the NZIIS is developed and implemented as quickly as possible to reduce workers facing such hardships in the future.”

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Joe Gallagher, 027 591 0015

Packaging workers prepare for second joint mass strike – E tū

Source: Etu Union

Packaging workers from different companies are joining collective forces again to send a strong message to their employers to offer them a decent wage increase.

On Friday morning, some 200 workers from Visy Board, Charta Packaging, and Opal Kiwi Packaging are striking again, with a picket outside Opal’s company premises in South Auckland.

The workers produce cardboard boxes that many popular items such as food, beverages, and homecare products are packaged in.

Members’ ask remains consistent: a pay increase to cover their rising living costs, as many work between 60-70 hours per week to get by.

Visy Board and Charta Packaging members also want to see their overtime rates kick in after 40 hours, rather than 50 hours as is currently the case.

E tū Visy Board Delegate Manu Filimoekava says there has been no change in the company’s offer after the workers’ first joint picket on Monday, and members are getting upset.

“They need to give us an answer. The situation hasn’t changed,” he says.

Manu says members are prepared to strike until the company comes back with an acceptable offer.

E tū Team Leader Amy Hansen says members at the companies are fighting hard for change.

“Members need to see movement on decent pay and conditions to improve their lives and those of their families.

“For Visy and Charta members, they also need to see overtime paid from 40 hours to be fairly compensated for their work.

“A pay increase, combined with overtime rates that kick in earlier, will mean these workers will be able to participate more in their family and community lives without having to worry about how to pay next week’s rent.”

E tū Visy Board (Wiri), Charta Packaging, and Opal Kiwi Packaging members will strike and picket on Friday 9 September outside Opal Kiwi Packaging premises.

WHEN: Friday 9 September
WHERE: 239 Cavendish Drive, Papatoetoe, Auckland
TIME: 7am-12pm

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Amy Hansen, 022 183 1339
(Visy Board Wiri and Charta Packaging)
Alvy Tata, 027 594 1900 (Opal Kiwi Packaging)

Packaging workers come together for decent pay strike – E tū

Source: Etu Union

Workers in the packaging industry are banding together to send a strong message to their employers to come to the table with a decent wage increase.

Around 200 workers from Visy Board, Charta Packaging and Opal Kiwi Packaging will be striking on Monday morning, with a picket outside Visy’s company premises in Wiri.

Members are asking for a decent pay rise to help combat inflation, as many work between 60 and 70 hours per week to simply to survive.

Visy Board and Charta Packaging members also want to see overtime rates kick in after 40 hours, rather than 50 hours as is the case now.

E tū Visy Board Delegate Manu Filimoekava says members are getting more frustrated and upset as time goes on, with many having been at the company for as long as 10 to 25 years.

“At the end of the day, they’re asking the company to give us a fair pay increase. We need to meet the rising cost of living,” he says.

“Straight away, the company also declined our request to have overtime rates start at 40 hours per week.”

An E tū Delegate from Opal Kiwi Packaging says members are all standing for the same thing.

“We all believe in good wages, good results, good terms and conditions – and that’s what we’re fighting for. We need to stand up for our rights.”

E tū Team Leader Amy Hansen says members still can’t accept Visy’s current offer.

“The cost of living is huge and any offer less than that is going backwards.

“Members need to be able to spend time with their families, which is only possible if they are paid more so they don’t have to work as many hours to survive financially,” she says.

“The company also hasn’t moved on its overtime conditions, with overtime pay still only starting once workers have done more than 50 hours per week, which is unacceptable to members.”

Amy says that, like Opal, Visy and Charta Packaging are also major players in the packaging industry, which sets a standard for pay and conditions across the sector.

“This is why members are fighting for decent pay and conditions that will change their lives for the better.”

E tū Visy Board (Wiri) and Charta Packaging members will strike and picket on Monday 5 September outside Visy premises, supported by members from Opal Kiwi Packaging.

WHEN: Monday 5 September
WHERE: 235 Roscommon Road, Wiri, Auckland
TIME: 7am-12pm

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Amy Hansen, 022 183 1339
(Visy Board Wiri and Charta Packaging)
Alvy Tata, 027 594 1900 (Opal Kiwi Packaging)

Education News – Otago Polytechnic unveils poutokomanawa to signify its journey to date

Source: Te Pukenga

A new poutokomanawa (sculpture) representing past and future will be unveiled at Otago Polytechnic’s Dunedin campus on Thursday 8 December.
The poutokomanawa symbolises the poroporoaki (farewell) of Otago Polytechnic’s Māori Strategic Framework and welcomes in Te Pae Tawhiti, Te Tiriti o Waitangi Excellence Framework launched by Te Pūkenga – the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, in 2020 and revised this year, with an enhanced version released just last week.
Otago Polytechnic (a business division of Te Pūkenga) takes pride in its partnership with mana whenua (kā papatipu rūnaka ki Araiteuru), which was formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding in 2004 and has been operationalised through a Māori Strategic Framework since 2006.
The ceremony will be attended by representatives from Te Pūkenga, Otago Polytechnic, and the wider community, including mana whenua, who have been leading the tikanga and guiding the process.
“The poutokomanawa embodies both mana whenua and mātāwaka on campus. It also represents the future and, in doing so, challenges those who follow to uphold the mahi on which our proud history has been built,” says Megan Pōtiki, Deputy Chief Executive Partnership and Equity, Otago Polytechnic.
“Pou typically denote a border and/or a signal or post. In this context, the poutokomanawa also honours Otago Polytechnic’s history. It aligns with the Ngāi Tahu deity Tāwhaki, who represents mātauranga (knowledge).”
The pou, to be installed at Otago Polytechnic’s quad on Harbour Terrace, has been created by carver Steve Solomon (Kāi Tahu, Te Arawa), with assistance from Jay Davis (Te Ati Haunui-a-Paparangi) and Paora Peipi (Ngāriki Kaiputahi, Tūhoe, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu).
“Visually, the pou is inspired by the mahau of a wharenui. It has been further informed by the space in which it is situated, the surrounding buildings and prior artworks, but mostly the purpose or the function of what the poutokomanawa symbolises,” Steve explains.
“Unlike an artwork from a Westernised standpoint, the pou doesn’t just reflect myself but represents wider whānau, respective rūnaka and iwi, so I am seeking to honour this opportunity and understand the trust that have been given to me do the best I can.”
Details: Poutokomanawa unveiling, blessing and karakia, Otago Polytechnic, Thursday 8 December, from 3.30pm.

Stuff union members take strike action over pay offer – E tū

Source: Etu Union

Journalists at the larger Stuff newsrooms across Aotearoa have voted to take strike action starting this week, to push for a decent pay rise in their new collective agreement.

The E tū members will take several two-hour strikes this week, including today, and members have also voted for a 24-hour stoppage at a time to be determined next week.

Stuff members have voted to reject the company’s pay offer and to continue to seek a deal that addresses cost of living increases this year. Members’ concerns centre on paying their rent, mortgages, paying their bills, and being able to afford family life.

E tū delegate and Wellington-based Stuff journalist Tom Hunt says the members don’t feel valued.

“The company’s behaviour has been an insult to the journalists it claims to be so proud of,” Tom says.

“Journalists have shared heart-breaking stories of how low pay is affecting them. We are hearing of one having to eat baked beans three nights a week and having to hold off on having children because they cannot afford it.

“Nobody got into journalism to get rich, but they expect to be able to cover the basic costs of living. Staff are leaving in huge numbers for better paying jobs. Those still here are getting increasingly angry and frustrated with a company that seems not to care.

“The increase we are asking for is only to match the cost of living increases – we will still be no better off in real terms.”

E tū organiser Michael Gilchrist says while Stuff has agreed to establish a stepped pay scale for members with annual progression through the steps, this will only be a significant improvement if cost of living increases are also addressed.

“The benefit of what we’ve negotiated so far depends on ensuring that members’ pay is not continually eroded by inflation,” he says.

ENDS

For more information and comment:
Michael Gilchrist,
021 586 195

Members will take part in rallies in Auckland, Hamilton, and Wellington on Wednesday 30 November from 3-3:30pm.

Blog: Four Years is just the start if Tiwai Point closes – E tū

Source: Etu Union

By Craig Renney, CTU economist

Reports prepared for Invercargill City Council don’t usually make the news. But when they attempt to understand the possible impact of the closure of Tiwai Point, heightened media interest[1] is understandable. The report[2] highlights the outsized importance of the site to the local economy and community. More than 2,000 people rely on the plant for direct employment or as part of its supply chain.

The good news according to the report is that should the plant close in 2024, it would not have the catastrophic economic impact that many might worry about. The report itself says that the jobs losses could be ‘absorbed’ within just four years. The authors in their evidence to the council reportedly suggested that it could be even quicker than that “based on the way things are at the moment it might be one to two years because things are running that hot”.

If it were that straightforward it would be a great outcome. But sadly, the closure of Tiwai Point would likely create an impact that would be felt for more than one generation. The optimistic analysis above is based on the loss of 2,264 jobs being replaced by the 620 jobs currently being created in manufacturing and construction a year in Southland. The loss of Tiwai would almost certainly reduce the number of jobs being created in the region – meaning those replacement jobs just wouldn’t be there.

The report also shows that around 97% of the jobs at Tiwai would be lost in Invercargill. Southland is a big place – so do we really think that jobs being created in Te Anau are replacements for jobs lost in Invercargill 155km away? It’s much more likely that the jobs being lost would have a devastating local effect on Invercargill, while employment created in Gore would make little if any real impact.

The report also misses one of the biggest impacts that major job loss has on local areas – which is on wages. When workers lose their jobs, the next job they get is often paid less as it is not a great match for their skills, or comparable wages aren’t available. In the economics trade, we call this ‘wage scarring’. Wages at Tiwai are high – and often much higher than that available outside. The scale of that wage scarring when 2,264 people are suddenly chasing every available job would be enormous.

Two other assumptions that drive the four-year replacement forecast are worth unpicking more. The report uses jobs being created in manufacturing and construction as substitutes for the jobs being lost at the Tiwai site. In reality, there are likely to be significant differences in the skills needed in these jobs – ‘manufacturing and construction’ is a really broad part of the economy. This means that the workers from Tiwai wouldn’t easily slot into these jobs. That is likely to slow the transition into employment for newly unemployed workers.

The second assumption inherent in that four-year projection is that the closure wouldn’t have any spillover effects on the local economy. Significant local job losses are often associated with the loss of jobs in sectors not directly associated with the industry being closed. The loss of a big factory harms local shops. On local restaurants. These second-round effects are particularly pronounced when the employment loss is geographically concentrated, which would be the case at Tiwai. It wouldn’t just be 2,264 local jobs being lost – it would be many many more.

This isn’t to criticise the authors of the report – it’s just that way too much weight is being put on analysis that isn’t designed for that purpose. What we shouldn’t do is relax. Whether Tiwai Point stays or goes, there is much work to be done to make sure that Invercargill and the Southland economy have a positive future.

We should use the time that Tiwai is still here to build the high-wage, high-skill economy needed outside of the smelter. The more high-quality jobs that are here, the lower the impact of closure would be. We should be getting alongside the workforce and unions at Tiwai, ensuring that workers have the skills that will be needed whenever the site closes. We should be ensuring that the site is cleaned for future use, using a local workforce. That would be truly delivering a ‘just transition’ for that community.    

Much of that work is going on right now. Everyone from the Southland Just Transitions Project, Murihiku Regeneration, to Ngāi Tahu is working together to tackle the issues of when Tiwai Point finally closes. But instead of thinking that this is a problem that can be solved between Rugby World Cups, we should instead be delivering a productive, sustainable, and inclusive economic plan for Tiwai for the next thirty years.


[1] https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/130468535/economist-smelter-closure-impact-would-be-far-less-pronounced

[2] https://api.whatsoninvers.nz/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Infometrics-LTP-report.pdf

Newly opened nursery continues strong relationship with EIT | Te Pūkenga | EIT Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti

Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

1 hour ago

EIT | Te Pūkenga Assistant Head of School, Primary Industries Paul Keats (left), with Te Wai Mauri Trust Director Jonathan Dick and Chairman Te Kaha Hawaikirangi, Horticulture Learning Facilitator Tania Basher, nursery workers Rewa Mason, Alice Hughes, Karen Skipper-Hawaikirangi and Te Wai Mauri Trust Director Julie Ferguson. Photo Supplied.

A hapū owned nursery, based at Waiōhiki Marae, will see the strong relationship between Te Wai Mauri Ltd and EIT | Te Pūkenga School of Primary Industries continue.

An opening ceremony was held recently to launch Te Wai Mauri Nursery.

The nursery grows native seedlings, with the goal being for members of Te Wai Mauri Ltd, known as the Kaitiaki Rangers, to plant locally sourced and grown seedlings from their own nursery to help restore the taiao (environment).

They are on target to have more than 100,000 seedlings for sale next winter.

Chad Tareha, chairman of Ngāti Pārau Hapū Trust, the mana whenua hapū for Ōtātara, led the string of karakia.

Te Kaha Hawaikirangi, Te Wai Mauri Trust Chairman, says EIT | Te Pūkenga has been fantastic along this journey.

“EIT has had a big hand in guiding us. When we first started, we went to EIT, and we had a list of different programmes and training that we thought would be great for our team and they were fully supportive in helping us develop that programme and delivering it.”

Nursery workers Rewa Mason, Alice Hughes and Karen Skipper-Hawaikirangi graduated with a New Zealand Certificate in Sustainable Primary Production [Level 4] from EIT | Te Pūkenga last year.

The Kaitiaki Rangers have also recently finished studying a NZ Certificate in Primary Industry Skills (Agriculture/Ecology/Horticulture) [Level 2] and a NZ Certificate in Primary Industry Operational Skills [Level 3].

“It is a big relief to have officially opened,” Rewa says. “We have been waiting a little while and we have been doing a lot of hard work to get here.”

Rewa says they have enjoyed working with EIT | Te Pūkenga and giving other willing students opportunities to experience a working nursery.

“We’ve had a couple of different groups come up including the Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) students to give us a hand and they have helped us quite a lot.” 

EIT | Te Pūkenga Horticulture Learning Facilitator, Tania Basher was acknowledged with a gift for her consultancy role in the development of the nursery. Her expertise from running the EIT | Te Pūkenga plant nursery was useful in helping to establish the new nursery.

Paul Keats, the Assistant Head of School, Primary Industries at EIT | Te Pūkenga, says it is fantastic to see the progress the Te Wai Mauri has made in such a short time.

“We are looking forward to continuing our association with the nursery in the future. Having this resource to be able to involve students and give them some real nursery experience is invaluable.

“I can only see the place growing from here.”

Funding and/or support/training for the development of Te Wai Mauri Nursery has included: The Provincial Growth Fund, DOC Jobs for Nature, The Tindall Foundation, Eastern and Central Community Trust, Ministry of Primary Industries, Te Puni Kokiri, Ministry of Social Development, EIT | Te Pūkenga, Pursuit, PanPac and the Port of Napier. Pūniu Nursery, Plant Hawke’s Bay and Waimarama Nursery also shared expertise.

Contractors for the nursery infrastructure were Think Water HB, David Campbell, The Backyard Barbers, Hi-Rock, C & L Bobcat Diggers, Issacs Plumbing & Electrical, Matthew Ward Contracting, and SolidcreteHB. Infrastructure/design supplied includes: Goldpine, Redpath, Max Parkes Unit Design and Coast and Co Advertising.

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