John Minto moves on, Surveillance in the workplace, fee rise for some

23 Apr



John has been a Unite organiser for over six years and in that time he has handled many of the more difficult negotiations, companies, and employment cases. The main areas of work he covered included security, English language schools, health, and call centres. And he was always there to support members in other areas covered by Unite and other working people.

Many of our members from outside of Auckland have also got to know John as he has coordinated our employment relations education training – putting together courses, doing schedules for training days, presenting courses and travelling to other cities to run training days. More recently John stood in the general elections for the MANA party and will continue to be active in Global Peace and Justice Auckland. So he will continue to be around our union in all sorts of social justice struggles.

He has many close members and two of them wrote the following comments:

John has been a wonderful rep and has been quite a force to reckon with throughout the time he has represented those of us at First Security in particular, over the last 4 years. While the environment is quite challenging and we have had some stand-off moments, John has still managed to forge a working relationship with management and has put us well on the road to enriching that relationship ever more. The respect and integrity and mana that he has, will always be imbedded in those that have had to deal with John. We will miss him and his expertise and hope that he lingers around long enough to impart some of that wealth of knowledge onto those that will follow in his footsteps. From all of us. Kia waimarie, Mauri ora Kia ora, Much Aroha.” – Agnes Devon, First Security delegate.

I first met John a little over 6 years ago. My workplace had just signed up with UNITE and we were waiting to be allocated an organiser and to negotiate our initial CEA. This mild-mannered, warm, friendly guy showed up to discuss our first set of claims and reassure us that our jobs would not be lost for joining the union. Needless to say John achieved a significant pay rise and improvement in working conditions from the following negotiation process and has continued to achieve wonders each year for us (and of course no one was fired). It has been a huge privilege to have been able to work closely with John on numerous occasions and I have seen him make a huge difference to the lives of union members in all the sectors he represents. In a nutshell John Minto is a good man in the truest sense and his departure will leave a very difficult void to fill. Me te mihi nui.” – Alex Pirie, EF Language School delegate.

As well as being a dedicated activist, John has also been a school teacher for most of his life and he is returning to that role. John has played an important role in establishing Unite for which we thank him.

Recently there have been news stories about the use of cameras in the workplace. Our delegates and members are aware that some companies use camera surveillance. While the union is not generally in favour of increased surveillance it is important for members to be aware of the rules. The rules for the use of surveillance at work come from the principles and intentions of The Privacy Act 1993.

Here are five points about surveillance.
1. Any company wishing to use camera surveillance must take reasonable measures to make sure that you know that cameras are being used to collect information in the workplace. However there are exceptions to this if an employer has reasonable grounds to believe a particular illegal activity is occurring and making staff aware of the operation of cameras would undermine their use.
2. The information collected cannot be personal information about your private life – it can only be about you in so far as it relates to your obligations in the workplace. It cannot be used for anything other than what it is intended to be used for.
3. You can have access to any information (footage etc) collected about you. One example of this is that an employer can’t say in a disciplinary that an alleged misconduct is on camera without agreeing to provide footage if asked by your representative.
4. Anything presented must be current and complete (meaning you should ask for dates of any information presented and footage from before and after alleged offences) and cannot otherwise be misleading.
5. The Employment Relations Act 2000 also has a bearing on the use of surveillance because it requires a duty of good faith from your employer, meaning there should be no misleading or deceptions. However covert/hidden surveillance can still be used if the employer has acted in good faith by forming a policy on covert surveillance and informing employees of that policy.
Note: Some of the information here is sourced from Hesketh Henry Employment News, March 2012, but has been significantly altered for the purposes of this newsletter.

As advised in the December newsletter, the maximum fee in the fast food and cinema sectors has risen to the same as other members of Unite – to $5.50 per week. This only affects those who in restaurants and cinemas earning above $435 a week and took effect from the 1st April.
The union fee is calculated at 1.1% of wages with a minimum of two dollars and a mazimum of $5.50. This still makes Unite the best value union in the country.


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