Archive for the ‘Unions – NZ’ Category

by Susanne Kemp

Firefighters across New Zealand and around the world are marking International Firefighters’ Day today, May 4.

As the IFFD home page notes, “Firefighters dedicate their lives to the protection of life and property. Sometimes that dedication is in the form of countless hours volunteered over many years, in others it is many selfless years working in the industry. In all cases it risks the ultimate sacrifice of a firefighter’s life.”

In Third World countries, firefighting is an especially hazardous job due to widespread very poor health and safety conditions in factories, sweatshops and other workplaces and the under-spending on public services such as firefighting.

Bangla Desh firefighters and emergency workers

For instance, in the Tazreen Fashion factory fire in Dhaka, Bangla Desh, in 2012, at least 117 died while 200 were injured.  At the Kader Toy Factory fire in Thailand in 1993, despite the desperate efforts of firefighters, somewhere between 190-210 workers, mainly young women from rural areas, were killed and over 500 were injured.  The workers were locked inside the factory and firefighting crews were delayed by traffic jams in the area. (This fire is the subject of Don McGlashan’s powerful ‘Toy Factory Fire’ song on his first solo album.)

While we should think about the dangers faced by firefighters in NZ, we should never lose sight of the (more…)

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Here we link to a downloadable double-sided leaflet produced by the Health Sector Workers Network.

The leaflet makes the case for an 18% increase for workers in the health sector as something worth fighting for.

If you would like to help distribute this leaflet contact the HSWN (here) or just download copies of the leaflet directly (here) and distribute them at local pickets and protests by workers in the health sector. (The leaflets are for health workers, rather than being for general distribution.)

Help build rank-and-file consciousness and power.

 

The current struggle by health workers has the potential to knock quite a hole in government/employer attempts to hold down wages across the board.  The struggle also points up the underfunding and misfunding in the health sector.

Health workers have not only been prepared to take industrial action, but they rejected the union leadership’s recommendations that they accept the woefully poor pay increase offered by the bosses.  At present what health workers and saying and doing suggests they are in no mood for really miserable compromises.

Below are links to articles that have appeared on the site of the Health Sector Workers Network, a rank-and-file group of workers across the various unions that operate in the health sector.  These articles are linked to as they chronologically appeared on the HSWN site.

We are also currently planning an interview with some activists from the HSWN.  We highly recommend their blog – read the article and support their work in whatever way you can.  To workers in health, we recommend you get involved in the HSWN.

Let’s Actually Do This

With negotiations concluded for this round of the DHB MECA, NZNO members are faced with an offer being recommended by the bargaining team. Reading comments from the NZNO facebook page, there is an overwhelming sense that members are extremely unhappy with the current offer on the table. This comes after. . . continue reading here.

 

The Time is Now

A confusing part of the NZNO DHB MECA negotiations has been the pay equity claim. The negotiating team has recommended the deal and considers the pay equity claim as part of the reasoning for accepting the deal. These are separate issues. If people want significant change, HSWN believe the time is not tomorrow to bring this, the time is now. . . continue reading here.

 

Health worker silence due to Employment Relations Act?

The ‘decision makers’ representing NZNO should reconsider their strategy. Following increasing questions over “Why is NZNO not in the media?” this ‘MECA offer FAQ’ was released (pictured here). Health Sector Workers Network take a different perspective. . . continue reading here.

 

The NZNO DHB MECA — what is at the heart of members’ anger and what can be done?

There has been a lot of frustration amongst NZNO members about the way the DHB MECA negotiations have unfolded. Health Sector Workers Network (HSWN) has been vocal about this process and the flaws in strategy. With the vote currently underway for the second offer, frustration has given way to anger in different forums. What are some of the possible causes?. . . continue reading here.

 

Why should health workers in DHBs expect an 18% pay rise in 2018?

With District Health Board (DHB) nurses in the Nurses Union voting no to their latest 2% pay offer, union members need to set some demands. If members expect a certain percentage increase, then there needs to be a clear figure in people’s minds. If this is not clear, then what are people fighting for?

Health Sector Workers Network (HSWN) have considered this and detailed a clear rationale for this target. Our focus has been specifically on the NZNO (New Zealand Nurses Organisation) DHB collective agreement. This collective agreement covers most Nurses, Midwives and Health Care Assistants (HCAs) in DHBs across New Zealand. This agreement is referred to as the DHB MECA which stands for DHB Multi-Employer Collective Agreement. The previous DHB MECA can be found here as a reference. This agreement expired on the 1st of August 2017.

If you do not read anything else from this article, then just remember this. . . continue reading here.

 

Say NO to the ‘independent’ inquiry into DHB health worker pay

The Health Sector Workers Network (HSWN) is concerned that the suggestion from Jacinda Ardern and the Labour government for an independent inquiry could see NZNO members shafted. . . continue reading here.

The Health Sector Workers Network, a rank-and-file grouping of workers in the health sphere, has as one of its current projects the assembling of stories of resistance by workers in this sector.

HSWN are conducting interviews with people who have direct experience of taking industrial action – or engaging in any form of struggle or resistance – while working in the health sector.

Your story will be recorded and run on the HSWN site, but you can be anonymous if you wish.

So please get in touch with the Network’s project on struggle and resistance in the health sector.  You can email:  Contact@hswn.org.nz 

The HSWN site, meanwhile, is here.

And HSWN on facebook is here.

by Phil Duncan

Teachers and school service workers in the US state of West Virginia are currently setting an example for workers across North America – and here in New Zealand – with a massive ‘wildcat’ strike.  These public employees are defying the bosses (the local state government and governor), the law and the top bureaucrats in their own union.

The workers’ industrial action has been in pursuit of not just their 5% pay claim, but also around worsening living standards due to high insurance and other ‘out-of-pocket’ costs. Teachers in the state are among the lowest-paid educators in the country – West Virginia ranks 48th out of 50 states in terms of teacher pay.  The last time the state’s 20,000 teachers and 15,000 school service workers got a pay rise was four years ago.

They have also been facing rising insurance costs – like other public employees, they pay into the PEIA (Public Employees Insurance Agency) and the premiums have been rising as faster rates than pay has been increasing, thus depressing their actual take-home pay.

As one of the striking teachers reports, “Even with a master’s degree plus 45 credits and 15 years of teaching experience, I bring home an estimated (more…)

By Don Franks

NZ Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff has just published an interesting piece : “New Zealand needs to change how it does business.”

Richard notes that over the last 30 years, “the share of the economy going to working people has fallen from over 50 per cent to just over 40 per cent, cutting $20 billion  a year from pay packets.”Income-Inequality

The union leader sees this having occurred because:

“… too many decisions about the work we do nowadays are made outside of employment law altogether.

“You see it for the people who are pushed to become dependent contractors and take all of the risk and little of the reward – that’s tens of thousands of drivers, utilities technicians, and construction workers over the last decade alone.

“You see it in the boardroom level decisions to re-tender whole workforces on lower terms and conditions by changing contractors (even though they end up largely employing the same people). (more…)

by Don Franks

“Still no sugar! We told you yesterday. You’re supposed to be our delegate.” 

My workmate had a case. The bag in the smoko room was empty and I hadn’t got onto the boss about it. Not taking sugar in my own tea, I’d been slack. 

“Ok Afi, I’ll see him right now.”

So instead of taking the usual time to butter the guy up I interrupted the boss in his office when he was busy and went straight to the point. (more…)