UNIONEXPRESS November December 2013
THERE WILL BE A POSTAL VOTE ON ASSET SALES BETWEEN 22 NOVEMBER AND 13 DECEMBER
Authorised by Robert Reid, 120 Church St, Onehunga, Auckland Inside: Photos, Sudoku & More
TACHIKAWA REDUNDANCIES: PAGE 2
DETERMINATION PAYS OFF AT ROCKGAS: PAGE 2
TAKE A BREAK: PAGE 5
UNION LOCAL NEWS
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Stopworks meetings photos
Nov Dec 2013
Tachikawa mill closed
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REDUNDANT: 120 Workers Get Bad News.
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Rotorua based timber mill Tachikawa Forest Products has been put into receivership and its 120 workers have lost their jobs. About 80 of the workers are FIRST Union members. FIRST Union delegate William Brown said workers have known for a while that things were not good but the closure still came as a shock and would be particularly hard on those with young families. “I look around and see a lot of young guys with families. I feel a lot for them. They have mortgages and in that situation losing your job is about as big a problem as you can get,” he said. The Tachikawa mill was set up in 1989 to specialise in Douglas Fir and Radiata Pine processing but in recent years has struggled financially. FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said the union had been aware of the company’s financial problems for some months and had been offering suggestions to the company. “This receivership comes on top of a continuing contraction of wood processing firms and jobs in New Zealand,” he said. “The high New Zealand dollar, the high price of logs and the lack of a government procurement strategy around the Canterbury rebuild and government house building programmes mean we continue to see raw logs being
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Editor– Bill Bradford Contributors– Sam Huggard, Ed Miller and FIRST Union staff Authorised by FIRST Union, 120 Church Street, Onehunga.
Submissions We actively encourage membership participation in your newspaper, the Express. You may fax, email or dictate a story for the Express. We are here to help. Next submission due date: 10 December 2013 All comments, letters to the editor, artwork, poetry, photos, ideas, stories should be sent to the following contacts.
exported while workers lose their jobs in the wood sector. Even worse, we are hearing reports of Canadian and Chilean lumber being used in the Canterbury rebuild when local timber could be used.” Robert said Tachikawa representatives joined a union delegation to raise the issues facing the wood processing industry with government almost three years ago but their concerns fell on deaf ears. Workers are owed up to $20,340 in redundancy compensation, depending on how many years’ service with the company they have, but it is not clear when they will actually get it as they will have to wait for creditors to pay the company before they get anything. They may even have to wait until the company’s assets are sold before there is any money to pay them with. FIRST Union Wood Sector National Organiser Rawiri Daniels said the union would continue to stand beside the workers as they worked their way through the difficult times ahead. “We will work closely with IRD, Work and Income and other agencies to ensure our members get everything they are entitled to,” he said. Robert Reid said the union is also asking the government to put in place a support programme similar to the successful programme run by the union following the 2009 closure of Christchurch textile firm Lane Walker Rudkin.
Determination pays off at Rockgas
Contact Us Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 0800 863 477 Fax: (09) 622 8353 attention Union Express Address: 120 Church Street, Onehunga Postal Address: Private Bag 92904, Auckland Subscriptions: email@example.com (09) 622 8520 Change of address: 0800 863 477 Disclaimer Opinions expressed in the articles do not necessarily represent the views of the FIRST Union. FIRST Union The FIRST Union is a democratic organisation run by working people for working people. We organise for a better future and for respect for ourselves and our families through building power on the job, in our industries and our community.
MAKING A STAND: 5 weeks on strike pays off for workers at Rockgas. When workers at Contact Energy owned Rockgas asked their bosses to bring their pay up to industry standards, they made no progress. So they started a three day strike. The company still refused to budge so the union gave notice for an eight week strike. After five weeks of strike action a settlement was finally reached. Site delegate Andrew Chapple said it was a difficult time for workers who struggled to pay their bills and were under enormous pressure to go back to work.
“In the end we got an increase of $2.30 an hour for the first year, an additional three per cent for the second year of the agreement and a 10 per cent increase in our incentive scheme. We also achieved a major improvement by having a clause in their agreement that had previously allowed the company to fire anybody who was injured after six weeks changed,” he said. Andrew said the strike was worth having despite the hardship the workers underwent during it. “We were determined to make things better. Everybody who works here now is better off so I don’t regret it.”
UNION LOCAL NEWS
Difficult bargaining in retail chains
Big turnout for stop work meetings Discussions on the government’s proposals to reduce workers’ rights at work were a key part of FIRST Union’s recent round of stop work meetings. 4,969 members attended one of our 47 meetings across New Zealand, up 400 from 2012. The meetings discussed the law changes, and other issues like the living wage movement, the forest safety campaign, and an update on recent bargaining outcomes and the membership and financials for our union.
FIRST submissions on law changes The entire national executive turned out to support the union’s submissions to the select committee hearing on the government’s proposed employment law changes. The union opposes the changes the government wants to pass which include the removal of an obligation to complete negotiations; removal of the ability of new workers to benefit from union-negotiated conditions for the first 30 days while they consider joining the union; allowing employers to dock the pay of workers taking partial strike action and other measures harmful to workers.
Solidarity with Sri Lankan workers FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid has written to the Managing Director of Ansell Ltd in Australia calling on it to halt violations of the union rights of striking workers at its Sri Lankan operations at Bigayama EPZ. The strike was undertaken because of the intimidation and sacking of the branch union president and the harassment of other union leaders. The intimidation of union leaders began in response to union complaints about management decisions to increase targets and curtail pay incentives. The company is one of the world’s leading producers of latex gloves.
Pak n Save news A new collective agreement has been reached at the Mangere Pak n Save following Saturday afternoon protests outside the store on two occasions. The new agreement is for two years and includes pay rises that will take workers with one year’s service to $16.95 an hour next year as well as improvements in sick leave and new redundancy provisions. Bargaining has begun for the first ever collective agreement at the Clarence Street Pak n Save in Hamilton and claims meetings have been held for the first time at Te Awamutu Pak n Save.
SETTLED: The Farmers collective agreement is settled. Bargaining in most of the major retail chains this year has been protracted and stressful for members according to FIRST Union Retail Sector Secretary Maxine Gay. She said some employers were seeking increased flexibility but this was strongly resisted by members who have watched new workers employed on low contracted hours struggle because they don’t know how many hours work they have from week to week. She said on the upside having the Living Wage campaign gave workers something to aim for. “We did everything we could to move the debate in all the chains from what the employer said it could afford, to what workers needed in order to live,” she said “An example of this is Countdown where we reached a very good settlement (which is currently going to members for ratification) after a record number of days of face to face bargaining, petitions, protests and mediation. The crux of the matter was the overwhelming desire of workers to protect their contracted hours.” In the end the company agreed that permanent staff would have their contracted hours protected for the currency of the agreement unless exceptional circumstances made that impossible. “Having the security of knowing that they have their hours protected until June 2015 has come as a great relief to members,” she said. Maxine said although The Warehouse settlement ended up being very good it was heart-breaking at one stage to see the company’s good news story of the introduction of
Hosking Haulage drivers join FIRST
Ex member wins Man Booker Prize The union would like to congratulate Eleanor Catton for winning the Man Booker prize for her book The Luminaries. Some years ago Eleanor worked at Benchmark and then Bunnings at the same time as FIRST Union Central Region organiser Richie Morris. She was a union member. The Man Booker prize is one of the most prestigious in the book world and it is a huge accomplishment for a 28 year old New Zealander to win it.
the Career Retailer Wage (CRW) in tatters because it had become blinded to the plight of the lowest paid workers who did not meet the 5,000 hours criteria it had set before they could get a decent pay rise. “At the 11th hour an agreement was reached that no member would be disadvantaged and an improved pay offer was agreed for the lowest paid people and those who were already above the CRW rates,” she said. A proposed new Bunnings agreement is currently going to members for ratification. Maxine said the company’s starting position was to expect workers to settle for a payrise that was based on the CPI and they insisted that an earlier proposal go to members for ratification despite the union bargaining team advising that the settlement would not be accepted. Workers voted overwhelmingly to reject the offer and the parties had to go back into mediated bargaining. “This Collective Agreement expired in June and we have only just reached agreement on a proposed settlement,” she said. The new proposed agreement protects the current wage scale and delivers a reasonable pay rise.Maxine said Kmart and Farmers were exceptions. “Good settlements were reached in both of these chains within the normal bargaining time frames. While the settlements didn’t give members all that they were seeking what made them stand out from the rest was the pay offers were between three and four per cent - with some individual rates going a bit higher,” she said.
JAYSON KUMEROA: HOSKING HAULAGE DELE-
The drivers at Rotorua based Hosking Haulage have just negotiated their first collective agreement. FIRST Union delegate Jayson Kumeroa said none of the drivers knew much about unions until recently. “We didn’t have a collective agreement and didn’t even know much about our individual employment conditions. One of the guys went to see the union to see what our options were and soon 13 of the 15 workers had joined up and we were into having talks with the employer.” Jayson said the process of bargaining for a collective agreement was new to both the employer and the workers but talks went smoothly and the workers are pleased with the outcome. “Some of the drivers got pay increases of up to $1.50 an hour,” he said. “We were on different pay rates but it is more standardised now so we get paid the same for doing the same job.” Other gains the workers made included an increase in bereavement leave, time and a half pay for hours worked before 6 am or after 6 pm and redundancy provisions.
Nov Dec 2013
TPPA – It’s not democracy and it’s not right NZ celebrities have spoken out in a video, urging Kiwis to sign a petition demanding the New Zealand government release the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). TPPA is a trade, investment and economic integration agreement being negotiated in secret by 12 Asia-Pacific countries, including New Zealand, the United States, Malaysia, Japan and Mexico. The breadth of the agreement has caused controversy among academics, trade unions, environmentalists and other public interest groups, both regarding leaked information about its content – such as special rights for investors to sue countries over law changes, more expensive medicines and provisions undermining financial stability – and the lack of transparency in negotiations. FIRST Union was the first union to oppose the agreement after witnessing the dramatic impact other similar agreements have had for Kiwi workers, including the gutting of our manufacturing sector, wage repression and giving corporations a bigger say over our legislative process. The secret nature of this agreement raises serious questions about who is controlling the process – the negotiating countries, or the corporations who have the ear of trade ministers around the world. Since the petition was launched on 1 October it received 10,000 signatures in its first two weeks. FIRST Union is one of the sponsors of the petition.
TTPA ITS NOT RIGHT: Celebrities speak out. “This response is a wakeup call for the government,” said Robert Reid, FIRST Union General Secretary. “As these negotiations roll towards an election year, the TPPA looks set to become a political issue. All political parties should take note.”
Check out the petition and the video at
Living Wage big issue in Auckland elections
LIVING WAGE: Local government is getting the message. The living wage was one of the hottest issues discussed in local body elections, especially in Auckland where major campaigns targeted candidates. A host of community forums were organised in the lead-up to the election, co-hosted by various organisations and targeting different communities, including South Auckland, West Auckland and Central Auckland. Forums were also held for union members, faith groups, migrant groups, women’s groups and youth. FIRST Union members attended the forum co-hosted by Unions Auckland in Papakura.
Candidates were asked to commit to three things important to unions – a living wage for all directly employed and contracted council staff, an end to the model of privatisation and contracting out, and greater accountability of ACIL, the Council Controlled Organisation that pushed for privatisation of the ports. All invited candidates committed to the statements, and were given the chance to describe the rest of their vision for Auckland. A large number of living wage candidates were elected on to the new Council, including the mayor, Len Brown.
The Living Wage movement is now gearing up to make sure elected candidates will keep to their promises. Auckland City Council recently published a report on the viability of a living wage for council staff. Unfortunately the report only looks at directly employed staff. The Living Wage movement intends to increase pressure on that demand and seeks to include contracted staff in Council consideration of the Living Wage.
National Briefs 90 day trial period failure The 90 day law has resulted in 11,200 employers sacking employees without having to give them any reason in the first year the law was in operation. “The Government boasted that the 90 day provision would help solve youth unemployment, but all it is doing is allowing bad employers to sack young workers without any process, and often without any reason,” said Asher Goldman from Stand Up, the youth network of the NZCTU.
Give Us A Break
1000s join nationwide tea break
NZ Post to lose 2000 jobs New Zealand Post plans to cut its workforce by up to 2000 over the next few years. The State Owned Enterprise will change to three times a week postal delivery for towns and cities from July 2015, with five days a week service for rural areas. NZ Post chairman Sir Michael Cullen said the traditional letter business is in irreversible decline but the EPMU has described the cuts as ‘simply cruel’.
Unions respond to review of retirement income Unions are concerned at the contents of a draft Retirement Income Policy which recommends the lifting of the age of entitlement to NZ Superannuation over a long period and change to the indexation method. NZCTU Secretary Peter Conway said it is in all our interests to ensure that we have a sustainable policy to support decent retirement incomes and there is mounting concern that the combined effect of low wages, insecure work, falling levels of home ownership, and high levels of personal debt will make it very difficult for people to save and plan for a reasonable standard of living in retirement.
McDonalds delegate sacked McDonald’s has sacked union delegate Sean Bailey for helping to expose the company’s repeated failures to provide meal breaks for many staff working more than a four-hour shift as required by law, and for giving critical testimony on this issue to a parliamentary committee. Bailey gave testimony to a Select Committee investigating employment law, following which he was issued a disciplinary letter stating “It appears that what you have said during the course of the select committee hearing and doing so in uniform may give rise to breaches of your obligations to your employer.” He was dismissed on October 14. The rules of Parliament expressly prohibit threatening or disadvantaging a person for presenting evidence.
Price increases hitting low incomes and people in Canterbury A sharp increase in the CPI this quarter, bringing it to a 1.4 per cent increase for the year, is mainly in areas that hurt lower income families according to CTU economist Bill Rosenberg. Rosenberg estimates that CPI for the year is 0.2 to 0.3 percentage points higher for the 30 per cent of households with the lowest incomes. He said much of the inflation is occurring in Canterbury which had a 2.3 per cent increase in CPI for the year compared with 1.1 to 1.3 per cent in the rest of the country.
TAKING A BREAK: Delegates at training in the FIRST Union office take a break. Thousands of workers in hundreds of workplaces around the country took part in a union coordinated nationwide tea break on the morning of October 30. The aim was to highlight the Government changes to Employment Law that take away the automatic right to a rest or meal break. CTU Secretary Peter Conway said over 900 workplaces around the country registered for the event. “Workers are outraged at the prospect of losing their tea break.” he said. “They understand the new law is designed to reduce their pay and attacks even the most basic work rights.”
Peter said the tea break is essential for rest and a chance to talk to workmates. It is also important for health and safety. He said workers are very worried about how this law will impact on them and their families. The proposed changes mean that where your employer believes they can’t reasonably provide breaks or if you agree then they can make you work without any meal or rest breaks at all. Where this occurs they’re required to compensate you for this, for example with an extra allowance or by letting you go home early.
Forestry inquiry a big step forward
FORESTRY ENQUIRY: A step forward. The NZ forestry industry has an appalling record on health and safety, with 28 workers dying since 2008. FIRST Union represents wood sector workers and has been working alongside the NZ Council of Trade Unions to bring attention to this tragedy, and use workers’ collective power to transform the industry. Our hard work has resulted in significant progress. In July Sheldon Drummond of the Forest Owners Association (FOA) announced the forestry industry will be holding an independent inquiry into health and safety in the industry. Its purpose is to “identify the likely causes and contributing factor to the high rate of serious and fatal injuries in the NZ forestry sector and to recommend an action plan that will improve safety performance.” FIRST Union and the NZCTU have been consulting with
workers and negotiating with FOA on the terms of reference for the inquiry. With the terms of reference now in place, the union is bringing together evidence of the poor conditions of employment within the industry for many workers. “We believe those conditions generate fatigue, cutting corners and mistakes that cost lives and livelihoods,” said FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid. “We are thrilled the industry has acknowledged their responsibility for health and safety in the forest and hope this inquiry will be a turning point that leads to greater involvement by workers in making their workplace a safer place.” Robert said the union is committed to giving as many workers as possible an opportunity to have their voice heard at the inquiry.
International Briefs Low-wage workers in the US are robbed more than banks, gas stations and convenience stores combined
INTERNATIONAL UNION MOVEMENT Union Express
Nov Dec 2013
Colombians strike against free trade
Low-wage workers are robbed far more often than banks, gas stations and convenience stores combined. That’s because many employers don’t abide by minimum wage laws or pay overtime, according to a report released by the Economic Policy Institute. More than 60 percent of lowwage workers have some pay illegally withheld by their employer each week and low-paid workers lose a stunning $2,634 per year, on average, in unpaid wages, or 15 percent of their income. Wage theft by bosses across the country topped $185 million in 2008. That was three times more than all the money lost in bank, gas-station and convenience-store robberies that same year, according to the Justice Department.
Domestic Workers Federation Formed Labour leaders from more than 40 countries met in Montevideo from October 26 to 28 to establish the International Domestic Workers Federation to organise domestic workers worldwide, share strategies across regions, and advocate for their rights. According to the ILO, almost 30 percent of the world’s domestic workers are employed in countries where they are completely excluded from national labour laws, including weekly rest days, limits to hours of work, minimum wage coverage, and overtime pay. Even when partially covered, domestic workers are often excluded from key protections such as minimum age requirements, maternity leave, social security, and occupational health measures.
UN Derecognises staff unions On 11 July, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon derecognised the staff unions representing the organisation’s 65,000 staff, many working in dangerous locations and war zones. He now refuses to negotiate and instead offers only to “consult” on safety and security, welfare and conditions of service. This comes against a background of 555 staff attacked and 200 killed in the last ten years and in an organisation supposed to uphold international human rights and labour rights conventions.
Bangladesh to raise garment workers’ wages A government-appointed panel in Bangladesh has voted to raise the minimum wage for millions of garment workers to about $66 a month — still the lowest in the world. The harsh and often unsafe working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry drew global attention after the collapse of an eight-story factory building killed more than 1,100 people in April. In another horrific case, a fire last November killed 112 workers. Garment workers have been demanding 8,114 takas ($100) instead of the current monthly minimum wage of 3,000 takas ($38), which is the lowest in the world.
Indonesian strikers face violence On 31 October and 1 November 1.5 million Indonesian workers took part in a national strike in support of an increase to the minimum wage. Violent clashes occurred and 17 protestors were injured. Said Iqbal, President of the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation said paramilitary forces allegedly paid by the government and employers attacked workers with beams and knifes. The strike achieved a new minimum wage but unions say it is still too low.
ON STRIKE: Agricultural workers put up blockades in Colombia. Colombian truck drivers, miners, teachers, medical professionals and students joined farmers in a four week national agricultural strike against policies that cause poverty and enrich multinational companies at the expense of the local population. The suspension of Free Trade Agreements (FTAS) signed with the US and the European Union is among the farmers’ demands. The farmers say the US FTA which came into effect last year is squeezing economic life out of communities by forcing them to compete with subsidised US products which are much cheaper. For example it costs a potato grower 70-75000 pesos (about US$36-39) to produce 100kg of potatoes but because of the flood of cheap imports they only get 25,000 pesos when sold. The European Union FTA only came into effect on August 1 so its impact has not been felt yet. Life is already hard enough in rural Colombia where 65% of farmers live in poverty and 1% of the population own 52% of the land. There are often no schools or doctors in rural communities, but while local farmers struggle against this hardship big multinational food companies have taken control of large areas of land. The right wing Colombian government of President Juan Manual Santos is accused of giving these big companies land that is supposedly earmarked for distribution to the poor. Likewise the government is making life difficult for Colombian miners while at the same time doing big favours for international mining companies. Healthcare workers are fighting measures aimed at
privatising the healthcare system and truck drivers are fighting low wages and high fuel prices. The strike began on August 19 when roads across the country were blocked. By its seventh day an estimated 300,000 people were taking part in blockades, strikes and solidarity gatherings. Support for the strike was high, even in cities and towns that suffered shortages because of the blockages. The Santos government met the strike with a heavy crackdown from Colombia’s feared police. Human rights organisation Bayaca reported shootings, torture, sexual assault, severe tear-gassing, arbitrary arrest and other abuses by state agents. There were violent clashes in rural areas where the government deployed the military against farmers and truck drivers who had set up blockades. Throughout the strike 12 protestors were killed, 507 injured and 262 were arbitrarily detained. Colombia is the deadliest country in the world for union activists and 37 activists were murdered in Colombia in just the first half of 2013. The strike has forced the government to sit down for talks with the national leadership of the most radical of the farmers’ organisations about an alternative agricultural model, suspension of FTAs and political representation for farmers. Although the government is unlikely to significantly change its commitment to its poverty causing policies at this stage, the agricultural strike has been hugely successful in raising the issue of the harm that can be done by FTAs and pulled together diverse opposition to the neoliberal status quo in the country raising the hopes of the poor that it is possible to organise for change.
International solidarity at Champion
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY: Made the difference for workers at Champion Flour. International solidarity between FIRST Union members at Champion Flour in Christchurch and the Food Rengo union in Japan averted a strike and led to a new collective agreement at the site. Champion Flour was previously owned by Goodman Fielder. When the company was sold to Japanese company Nisshin, part of the deal was to carry over all wages and employment conditions. It was also FIRST Union’s understanding that the new owners would continue to bargain around getting Christchurch workers employment conditions and wages aligned with the Champion Flour North Island agreement that covers workers at the company’s Mt Maunganui mill.
There were significant differences between the two agreements, particularly over wages and holiday shift provisions. The company refused to either agree to align the agreements or to set up a working party to find a way to bridge the gap. They said they could see no merit in going to mediation so the union members voted unanimously to go on strike. FIRST Union is a member of the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) and contacted their Asia/Pacific Secretary Hidayat Greenfield asking if there was an affiliated Japanese union that covers workers at Nisshan in Japan that might be able to put some pressure on the head office of the company.
The IUF contacted the Food Rengo union which in turn met with senior management in Japan and pointed out the company’s international reputation as an employer would be at risk if the Christchurch workers had to go on strike over their very reasonable claims for parity. The result of this combination of determination by local workers and international support from fellow unionists was the settlement of an agreement that included an extra week’s holiday for workers on 24 hour, seven day shifts, a 2.5 per cent pay increase, a higher duties allowance and a call back fee.
Redundancies at Dannevirke plant
STRUGGLING MILL: 50 workers have lost their jobs in Dannevirke. The Dannevirke community was hit hard when one of its major employers, Canterbury Spinners, laid off 50 workers at the end of August. About 31 workers have remained employed and have moved onto a new shift pattern with reduced hours. The layoffs follow last year’s closure of Norman Ellison Carpet’s spinning plant in Onehunga with around 85 job losses, and 190 redundancies at Summit Wool Spinners in Oamaru earlier this year. Canterbury Spinners purchased the Oamaru site and re-employed 60 workers. Other job losses in the textiles sector this year include redundancies at Norman Ellison and Cavalier carpets. The Dannevirke plant was taken over by Godfrey Hirst
in 2006 after the NZ Feltex Carpet company went into receivership. FIRST Union organiser Dion Martin said the company had given workers two months’ notice and this had helped them work through some of the issues around sorting out finances, finding alternative employment and coming to terms with the loss of their jobs but it was still difficult for them. “Some workers lost their jobs and some kept them. Many of those who lost out were unhappy with the selection criteria,” he said. “The union worked hard to make the company accountable for the decisions it made about who stayed and who went but there were still some
very unhappy people.” Some of the workers had moved to Dannevirke after losing their jobs at Canterbury Spinners following the earthquake and were having to look at readjusting again. Dion said some workers had found jobs locally on lower pay, some had moved on and some had ended up with part time or no work. “You simply can’t find 50 permanent jobs on those rates of pay in a small town like Dannevirke,” he said. Unlike some recent redundancies the workers did receive redundancy compensation payments when they left.
STOP WORK MEETING PHOTOS JULY - AUGUST 2013
Nov Dec 2013
The PSA is 100 years old this year
CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS: PSA march in Wellington. The PSA launched its centenary celebrations in Auckland on April 17 and the celebrations continued around the country until 31 October. The PSA grew out of the New Zealand Civil Service Association in 1913 when three young Education Department clerks decided to form an association to provide ordinary public servants with the support they needed. Their actions followed the passage of the 1912 Public Service Act which created a politically neutral, career public service. Over the past century the PSA has proudly represented public servants and fought to improve their working lives. Many of the things it has fought
for, such as superannuation, have benefited all workers in New Zealand. It won equal pay for women, flexible working hours and annual leave and has helped to create a politically neutral and corruption free public service that is the envy of many countries in the world. The PSA has grown from being a union for government workers to one which represents 58,000 workers in local government, the health sector, crown agencies, state-owned enterprises and community and government funded organisations . To mark its centenary, the PSA commissioned The State and the Union. In this candid oral history of the union from 1984 to the present, 26 PSA members
and staff talk about the tumultuous events of the late 1980s/1990s. During those years the PSA lost half its membership as government departments were sold off or corporatised and it was forced to change and rebuild. Other projects to mark the centenary included commissioning White Collar Radical, a biography of Dan Long, the general secretary of the PSA from 1960 to 1976, and the making of a centennial banner which was exhibited around the country. A special interactive centennial website has been set up and can be visited at http://www.psa100.org.nz/
The reality of poverty under the National Government From 13 – 16 August this year Auckland Against Poverty ran an impact at the New Lynn Work and Income office. An ‘impact’ involves three days of intense individual beneficiary advocacy, helping hundreds of people obtain their full entitlements from Work & Income. AAAP and other advocacy groups joined together to provide up to 25 advocates each day, while Work & Income put on an additional 20 staff to deal with the extra work. FIRST Union organiser Tali Williams joined the impact for a day and later published the following on The Daily Blog. After over a decade of being a workers’ rights advocate as a union organiser nothing could have prepared me for the extent of hopelessness, desperation and frustration that accompanied being an advocate for beneficiaries for one day. The first person I worked with was this young guy who had no income whatsoever. He had been told by his Work and Income case manager he wasn’t entitled to the JobSeeker benefit because he couldn’t produce a birth certificate even though he had a driver’s licence ID. It turned out that case manager wasn’t telling the truth and this guy had been sleeping on friend’s couches and eating out of bins for no reason. For ten months. I was one of the Auckland Against Poverty advocates a couple of weeks ago at their Impact welfare advocacy at New Lynn work and income. In the waiting room, far from the ‘entitled beneficiary’ stereotype that mainstream media foists on us, I saw hardworking families trying to juggle impossible situations. Fathers made redundant from manufacturing jobs, teenage victims of the 90 day dismissal period, public servants made redundant by the government,
brothers who were five minutes late to a Work and Income workshop and lost 3 weeks of their benefit because of it. Grandmothers getting work- tested when they are caring for grandkids full time because their parents are working two or three temp jobs to make ends meet. When we sat in front of a case manager their eyes would look down and they would shuffle nervously on their seat. Waiting to be denied again. But pleading anyway because they have literally nothing to lose. The case manager scrutinises the $200 that person had spent the previous week. $160 on rent – yes but what about the $40? $35 on electricity – yes but what about the $5? The humiliation of having to justify every last cent. Now please can we have the food grant? The case manager pulls a face and types slowly, every second passes like a minute as we wait for the verdict. I was there as an advocate, a word that evokes strength and efficacy, but I felt like pleading too. The odds were stacked up against us. The welfare legislation is vague and confusing, after constantly being cut and recreated at the whim of whatever welfare minister is in power. I wondered what was our recourse if a grant was refused. Pursuing a review was possible but these are mainly run internally and it was hard to feel confidence in this process. What could deliver justice and a fair outcome here? Failure today meant no food for the week, there was no time to lose. Every day of my life is filled with conflict, as the life of a union organiser often is, as is inevitable working with vulnerable people against those in positions of power. But in this conflict we are backed up by some fairly firm employment rights legislation, industrial power
TALI WILLIAMS: Took part in the AAAP impact. (the ability of workers – limited as it may be- to withdraw their labour), resources and ultimately, where called upon, a union movement. It’s no longer them, the unemployed and us, the employed – the chosen ones. With the changes this government has in store for working people I’m left feeling if we don’t act now many of us will face the same fate. Endlessly waiting in rooms with hungry children for a chance to see a case manager, pleading politely for a food voucher to survive the week. Auckland Action Against Poverty is doing an incredible job with what resources they have, but what more can we be doing in this country to build a movement of support and empowerment for the unemployed? FIRST Union is a supporter and funder of Auckland Action Against Poverty. Find out more about them at http://aaap.org.nz/ Footage of the Impact can be seen at http://aaap.org. nz/www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KlFwdD1-Ak
Call Centre Action Month
CALL CENTRE ACTION MONTH: FIRST Union is the union for call centre workers. Every October workers in call and contact centres whose unions are members of UNI Global mark Call Centre Action Month. FIRST Union has just launched a new online resource hub for call centre workers. Workers can access employment help, job leads and networking on the forum, at www.firstcallforum.freeforums.net This year’s theme is compensation and professionalism and UNIGlobal is calling on employers and governments to recognise:
Worksite issue: night shuttles
Answering the Call
ANZ DELEGATES: Andrew and Brian Delegates at ANZ Australia contact centre in Wellington have been doing a great job of enforcing rights and increasing union activity on the job. Andrew Duncan and Brian Williams designed a poster (pictured), which touches on a hot debate at call centres that service Australian customers: since Australia is on a later time zone, workers often have to stay at work late – too late for them to take public transport. The union members are campaigning to keep access to shuttles so they can get home safely, as well as opening up a wider discussion on hours and shift times. This is also a live issue at ANZ’s NZ call centre in Wellington where shuttles have been removed for staff working nights.
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Call centre work should be valued and paid above – not well below – the national average wage. Pay should be linked to demonstrable skills, and should compare favourably with other industries. Workers need adequate training and the skills to develop meaningful careers for themselves and quality service for customers. Training should be broad-based, portable and accredited.
Workers must be allowed some autonomy and the ability to participate in decision making. Monitoring should not be continuous, and should only be done when employees know the purpose; collected data must be used only for that purpose.
Our international body UNI Global has released a new report ‘Answering The Call’. It says when corporations transfer jobs to subcontractors, either within their countries (outsourcing) or to others (offshoring), downward pressure on wages and conditions results. On average subcontractors have 18% lower wages than in-house call centres. Among the 9 surveyed countries, unionised call centre workers have 7% higher wages that non-union worksites and call centres with union contracts average turnover rates 40% lower than non-union. Many workers find themselves in jobs with no autonomy and substandard pay, the report says, but they shouldn’t have to: those treated as professionals, with high involvement in their own work, avenues for advancement and good pay are happier and more productive. Read the report: www.CallCentreAction.org
Never stand alone: join FIRST Union
GE Money workers joining up
Join the union for call centre workers, at www. firstunion.org.nz/join, or 0800 863 477.
FIRST Union has been expanding our membership at GE Money. From no union on site there are now 22 members and growing, and FIRST Union hopes to start bargaining for a collective agreement for GE workers in coming weeks. FIRST Union organiser Chris Zack said that there were lots of issues workers were experiencing - in particular around targets and performance management plans.
FIRST Call on Facebook FIRST Call is a new resource for all call centre workers. Get informed, stay connected and meet workers from around the country. Find FIRST Call here: https://www. facebook.com/pages/FIRST-Call/540984189299344
YOUR RIGHTS - LEGAL
Nov Dec 2013
Bereavement Leave entitlements
GRACE LIU: FIRST Union legal organiser.
By Grace Liu, FIRST Union Legal Organiser According to the Holidays Act 2003, after six months’ employment with an employer, you as employees are entitled to paid bereavement leave of the following two types: 1. On the death of an immediate family member including a spouse/partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or spouse/partner’s parent, you are entitled to up to three days’ paid leave. If you suffer more than one bereavement at the same time, you can take up to three days’ paid leave for each death. You do not have to take the three days’ leave consecutively at once and they can be taken separately as long as they are taken for the purpose of dealing with the deceased person’s matters. For example, you may take one day of leave to attend the deceased person’s funeral at one time, and later take another two days of leave to deal with matters concerning the deceased person’s will. 2. If your employer, after considering the following relevant factors, accepts you have suffered a bereavement involving another person outside your immediate family member listed above, you are entitled to up to one day’s paid leave. The relevant factors include: • How close the association was between you and the deceased person; or • Whether you have to take significant responsibility for all or any of the arrangements for the ceremonies relating to the death; or Whether you have any cultural • responsibilities in relation to the death. Above are the minimum entitlements you will receive under the law. If you are a union member, please do make sure that you check your entitlements in your collective agreement because some collective agreements have a lot more favourable entitlements than what the law provides. Under some circumstances, for members who may require more than 3 days of leave for genuine reasons such as a requirement for overseas traveling or cultural responsibilities, we encourage members to discuss the situation with your employer and request further leave to be granted. At the end of the day, there is no harm asking and some employers can be sympathetic towards the situation and therefore accommodate more days. If you are not sure about your entitlement, please do not hesitate to contact FIRST Union at 0800 863 477 for assistance or advice.
Nominations for ANZ, BNZ, Westpac and The Co-op Council elections It’s time for Union Council elections at ANZ, BNZ, Westpac and The Co-operative banks. Union councils consist of national representatives that help make decisions on strategy, tactics and campaigns. The councils meet with the banks in regular forums, working parties and during negotiations. An active union council is an important component of resolving important workplace issues. To stand you must be a union delegate and nominations are open until Friday 29 November 2013
Thirty years on night fill Barbara Weck started working the night fill shift at Woolworths in Wanganui thirty years ago. She has seen a lot of changes since then, including a name change to Countdown, but it is the friendships she has made over the years that she really values. “The company gave me a celebration of my thirty years’ service and I could invite who I wanted,” she said. “I invited some of the ones I worked with when it was Woolworths and we talked about old times.” Barbara works a 9 pm to 2 am shift. “I am really used to working those hours now but it was hard when I started,” she said. “I have three children and worked on night fill while bringing them up. My husband was home at nights and would get them tea and ready for bed then go to work. When I came home I would get them up and ready for school. It was hard in the beginning but I adjusted and would grab an hour’s sleep during the day and be right.” Barbara has been in the union for most of the period she has worked at the store and spent a period as union delegate. She said there are differences between the way things are done now and when she started. “We have to work harder now. It’s all done by carton count. We used to still get the job done and have a bit of fun but now it’s all about money,” she said. But she still enjoys the job and has no intention of giving it up. “I will stay as long as I can keep my standard of work up,” she said.
BARBARA WECK: Thirty years on nightfill
New FIRST Union National Executive The following people have been elected to the FIRST Union National Executive:
7. Regional Secretary Southern Paul Watson – FIRST Union, Christchurch
1. President Syd Keepa – FIRST Union, Auckland
8. Retail Sector
2. Vice President Margaret Dornan – Farmers Cuba Street, Wellington 3. General Secretary Robert Reid – FIRST Union, Auckland 4. Divisional Secretary Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing Karl Andersen – FIRST Union, Auckland 5. Divisional Secretary Retail, Finance and Commerce Maxine Gay – FIRST Union, Auckland 6. Regional Secretary Central Sheryl Cadman – FIRST Union, Wellington
Northern , Albert Masagnay – The Warehouse Botany Downs, Auckland Central , Kiri Henare – The Warehouse New Plymouth Southern , Linda Hurndell – Countdown Church Corner, Christchurch 9. Transport & Logistics Sector Northern, Colin Hildreth – Inghams Enterprises, Waitoa Central , Tony King – St John Central Southern, Pio Poutu – Foodstuffs, Dunedin
CONCENTRATION: Delegates at the Auckland regional conference focus on the matter at hand.
10. Finance Northern, Graham Lee – ANZ Huapai Central/Southern combined , Maxine Mullen– Westpac Levin 11. Wood Sector National Dennis Dawson – Pan Pac, Napier 12. Textile/Clothing Sector National Tony Mudgway – Cavalier, Wanganui 13. Operations Manager, Greg Fitzpatrick 14. Runanga Representative Grahame Andrews – Nelson Pine 15. FONO Representative Emma Tobia-Teau – Countdown Westgate, Auckland 16. Women’s Representative Joan Foley – Countdown Upper Hutt, Maidstone
From the General Secretary: Under Pressure
ROBERT REID: General Secretary Under Pressure: Insecure Work in New Zealand is the title of a report that was launched at the New Zealand Council of Trade Union’s Biennial Conference in mid- October in Wellington. The report is part of a bigger study of precarious work in New Zealand prepared by the CTU and now available on its web-site: http://union.org.nz/underpressure Insecure or precarious work is one of the four areas that FIRST Union is campaigning on as part of our Decent Work Strategy. FIRST Union Strategic Advisor, Edward Miller was one of the contributors to the report. The report found that at least 30% (perhaps 50%) of New Zealand’s workers – over 635,000 people – are in insecure work. 95,000 workers have no usual work time, 61,000 workers have no written employment agreement, 573,000 workers earn less than the Living Wage and almost a quarter of a million Kiwi workers say they have experienced discrimination, harassment or bullying at work. Whether we call it casualisation, precarious work, temporary, or non-standard work, it means that workers have worse conditions, less security, less say and are more vulnerable.
The report shows that insecure work means workers’ lives are dominated by work: waiting for it, looking for it, worrying when they don’t have it. They often don’t have paid holidays, which can mean no holidays at all. They lose out on family time. They often don’t have sick leave. They are vulnerable if they try to assert their rights or raise any concerns. They are exposed to dangerous working conditions and have to accept low wages. They can’t make commitments to family, to sports teams, to community or church activities, to mortgages, or even to increasing their skills. This is not the kind of working life most Kiwis want. FIRST Union Finance Sector Executive Member, Maxine Mullen, was one of two speakers who helped launch the report at the CTU Conference. Her speech showed how bank workers are under pressure through the horrific target system operating in all major banks. Here is some of what Maxine said: “In recent years we’ve seen banks change from being customer focused to retail sales focused.” “That’s right – bank workers are in the invidious position of being incentivised to drive up New Zealand household debt as much as they can in order to boost the company’s profits.” “There’s huge pressure for bank staff to perform. If they don’t perform, if they haven’t reached their sales targets they’ll be put on a performance improvement plan.” “If there’s no improvement at the end of that, they’ll be managed out of the bank.” “Workers who are under pressure to meet targets can have trouble sleeping, think constantly about work, wake up in the middle of the night worrying, find they are taking it out on family and friends and can feel hopeless.” “So as we come together today to draw attention to insecure work – my message today is that insecure work comes in many shapes and sizes.”
Nov Dec 2013
New Union President
SYD KEEPA: New Union President Syd Keepa is the new FIRST Union President. Syd is of Ngati Awa, Tuhoe, Ngati Maru, Scottish and Irish descent and has been associated with the unions that amalgamated to become FIRST since the late 1960s. Syd is also Vice President, Maori of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and works as an organiser for FIRST Union. Syd says he intends to continue building a militant union that looks after all its members and fosters a feeling of belonging to one union across the different sectors that make up the union.
Question: Do you think it is important for people to register so they can vote in the general election
Mii Paroma - Jarvis Trading Company
Ben Luxford - Pak n Save Mt Albert
Do I have to be a billionaire for John Key to look after me? My answer to that is yes but I am not a millionaire, not everyone is. I think all money corrupts and I think now is the time that people should stand up and wipe that out and put people first
Fa’atali Mati - Life Health Foods
It is very important that people have their say and register and vote so they can influence the outcome rather than complaining afterwards
Voting in a pure democracy is good. But with banks making rules we should not be voting for politicians, but going after bankers who are the ones creating the problems politically.
James Wieldraajir - Fulton Hogan Albany Yes. Having a voice is important.
Julie-Anne Kameta - Progressive National Distribution Centre inManukau
It is very important because we all want to know how the country is going to be run. I don’t agree with the selling of assets and the changes that are taking place in employment where we don’t have as many rights
Peter Koti - Progressive National Distribution Centre in Manukau
It important that everyone has a say on who they want to be elected.
A little bit of magic
Katherine Coffin was dubious when she got a call from the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic netball team coach offering her a place on the team. “I didn’t believe it for a start. I wasn’t expecting the call and there wasn’t any small talk or anything. She just came out with it and it took a while before I was sure it was real.” A very excited Katherine was back on the phone to her parents in Perth as soon as the coach had hung up. Katherine works in customer service for the BNZ Cambridge branch. Once the season starts she will be travelling around New Zealand and Australia but because the games are on a Sunday or Monday she hopes to minimise the amount of time off work. “You don’t get paid like a rugby player for playing in the ANZ Championship,” Katherine said. “You can’t live off what you are paid and you have to keep working unless you become an international player. I have been communicating with my employer and when the season gets a bit closer we will talk more about what time off I might need. At the moment they are very supportive and this takes a lot of stress off me.” The ANZ Championship runs from March to July but Katherine is already training six days a week – and she now has to take more care over how she eats. “I have never counted the calories and worried about what goes in so my biggest challenge at the moment is eating good food,” she said. Katherine has been playing netball since she was about nine years old and last season played for the Hamilton City team. She is 1.82 metres tall and plays Wing Defence and Goal Defence. There are some big netball names, including Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua and veteran Silver Ferns defender Leanne de Bruin, in the Magic team and Katherine knows she will have to work hard to get time on the court. “I guess it’s a learning curve. My biggest goal this year is learning and competing with my teammates and against the opposition. Being first year I don’t expect a lot of court time but I want to learn and to take as much as I can from everything we do whether it is training or playing.” If she is in need of advice about the game Katherine can always turn to TVNZ presenter and ex Silver Ferns player Jenny May Coffin who is her father’s sister. “She gives me good advice, but she is really good at just being an auntie as well, she doesn’t expect anything from me but she was excited and happy when I was selected for the Magic.” FIRST Union members have an extra reason to tune in to games featuring the Magic next season so they can see one of our own in action on the court.
MAGIC: Katherine Coffin In Action
GIFT VOUCHER CAPTION COMPETITION
SMO|KO|DU SUDOKU (DIFFICULT) Each row contains the number 1 to 9, each
Send your photo captions to: email firstname.lastname@example.org or post to Private Bag 92904, Auckland. The winner receives two gift vouchers.
LAST ISSUE’S WINNING CAPTION COMPETITION Congratulations to the caption competition winner Janey Adams
column must contain the numbers 1 to 9 and each set of 3 x 3 boxes must contain the numbers 1to 9.
who works at Pak n Save Mangere
solution at: http://www.sudokutoday.com/difficultsudoku-puzzle-i314-answers.html
“Don’t mind me boys. I’m just passing through.”
Nov Dec 2013
Out and About
DESOLATE: The Tachikawa Mill lies silent
Change of address? REGIONAL CONFERENCES: Delegates at the Hamilton regional conference.
Unmasking four myths 1) Lots of jobs are being created all over New Zealand: The number of jobs in New Zealand has only just returned to 2008 levels, employment fell in 7 of 12 regions in the last year and, essentially, employment growth is due to Canterbury.
2) Australia’s economy is on the ropes: Their unemployment rate is still lower than New Zealand’s and their GDP growth has been pretty much the same as ours.
3) 90-day trials create employment for disadvantaged groups: New data shows they’re being used when employing managers and workers with qualifications - not necessarily disadvantaged workers.
4) The increase in exports to China is because of our Free Trade Agreement: China was booming when the FTA came into effect and the growth in Australian exports to China has been similar without an FTA. From the NZCTU Economic Bulletin, October 2013
It is important for us to know your address so we can keep you in touch with your union’s activities. Please let us know if you change your address. Simply phone our membership support on 0800 863 477.