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Worksafe must learn lessons – forestry Industry cannot self-regulate

14 Aug

Council of Trade Unions Media release

14 August 2014

“The CTU does not support Worksafe’s submission to the independent Forestry Review Panel that there can be an “industry led” approach to addressing the serious issues workers in the sector are facing.” CTU President, Helen Kelly said.

“We believe Worksafe should learn by experience of its predecessors where industry led initiatives have not worked. In March 2011 MBIE developed a number of Sector Action Plans in our most dangerous industries (Construction, Agriculture, Forestry, Manufacturing and Fishing). They ran until 2013 and were intended to result in a significant reduction in injuries in these sectors. They were industry driven in industries that had shown a lack of capacity to deal with the safety issues. Four of these had an “industry lead” Safety Council structure with only manufacturing having worker representation. In forestry the FOA health and safety committee took on this role. In construction a specific Construction Safety Council was the lead industry body and similarly in Agriculture (Agriculture Health and Safety Council). In Fishing, Maritime NZ took a different approach and led the Safety Council initiative (Fishsafe) The only industry where serious harm injuries notably reduced was fishing. In others the figures increased.” Kelly said.

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Change the Government to improve jobs and wages

6 Aug

Media release

Change the Government to improve jobs and wages

“The wage and employment statistics out today, the last before the election, show how the Government has failed workers over its two terms,” says CTU President, Helen Kelly. “Unemployment has at last fallen below 6% but at 5.6% and 137,000 people, it is still far higher than the 3.5% in December 2007 – so we know we can and should do much better. Despite the luck of booming dairy sales (now running out) and lots of jobs created for the Canterbury rebuild, which account for half of the growth in employment during the year, the Government has created a record of 20 quarters – five years – with unemployment higher than Australia. We usually have lower unemployment than Australia: over two-thirds of the time since 1986.” Kelly said. “This is the first quarter to end that appalling record, but reflects temporary factors, not a permanent turn around in jobs. On top of the 137,000 unemployed are 104,500 looking for work but not officially classified as unemployed – up from 97,200 a year ago. The number of part-time workers wanting more hours has risen from 87,500 to 98,200 over the year.” Kelly said.

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Message from CTU President Helen Kelly

23 Jul
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Dear Mike
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There’s only 43 days until September 3, when voting in the General Election starts. The last day to vote is September 20.Thanks heaps for signing up to support the Get Out and Vote campaign. It’s so important people turn out to vote this election. Every vote counts towards a healthier democracy and a better life for working New Zealanders.

Whether you have pledged to vote, or perhaps pledged to offer your help with the campaign, every one can help. We’re going to be in touch about things you can do during the voting period 3-20 September to help to get people out to vote.

Here are some important and easy things that you can do right now.

  1. Talk to your family, friends and workmates about their plan for voting. You can order free materials here to help you with this – including voter pledge cards. You can also sign people straight on to the Get Out and Vote campaign website. When you’ve got the voter pledge cards signed, send them back to us. Explain to people that we are collecting their information so we can get back in touch later on to work with them to make a plan for when and where they’ll vote. If they want to volunteer, that’s even better!
  2. Like the Get Out and Vote Facebook page, and invite others too: https://www.facebook.com/getoutandvoteNZ

Please double check that the information we have for you is correct. Having the right information for you will save our volunteers time when we really get busy, so please take a moment now to check by clicking on this link.

Let’s Get Out and Vote!

Warm regards
Helen Kelly
President
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

http://www.getoutandvote.org.nz/

Authorised by: Helen Kelly, NZCTU, Level 7, 178 Willis St, Wellington

Get Out and Vote · New Zealand

You can also keep up with Let’s Get Out and Vote on Twitter or Facebook.

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CTU tells Select Committee workplaces must be made safer

26 Jun

The CTU has today made a strong oral submission to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee on the Health and Safety Reform Bill.

“It is possible to turn around the terrible record of health and safety in this country, but this will only be possible if all the pieces of the jigsaw are put together.” CTU President, Helen Kelly said.

“We know that workers have a critical role to play in making workplaces safe. Worker voices need to be heard and taken seriously through formal processes within the workplace. Worker representation in decisions about workplace health and safety adds insight and value which can save lives.” Kelly said.

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Ministry report: National Government changes not working

11 Jun

Media release

Ministry report: National Government changes not working

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has released its report into the changes to the Holidays Act and the Employment Relations Act the National Government made in 2011.

“This report clearly shows that this set of changes by the National Government to employment law are failing New Zealanders. This report shows that they have failed to increase employment and failed to help disadvantaged workers.”CTU President Helen Kelly said.

CTU President Helen Kelly

“The infamous 90 day trial period is a flop. There is no evidence that 90 day trial periods have led to the creation of a single job. In fact it shows that tens of thousands of workers are being dismissed under 90 day trials each year. There’s not a shred of evidence that trial periods have created any additional employment – which was the primary justification the government provided for wanting to implement this law change. It is clear that employers like trial periods (one surveyed called it a safety blanket) but also that they are a cause of huge distress to workers who have been unfairly dismissed with no recourse to justice. There is no evidence that it has helped disadvantaged workers find jobs. Instead they are more vulnerable to being laid off. This policy is a huge and ongoing cause of human misery with no real gains for the economy as a whole. It should be scrapped.” Kelly said.

“Cashing up of annual leave is being used primarily by workers on low incomes to supplement their inadequate take home pay in lieu of a pay increase (within the context that 46% didn’t get a pay rise last year). The purpose of annual leave is to provide workers with an opportunity to spend time with their families, and for rest and recreation. The opportunity to have a break has been proven to have a positive impact on productivity.“ Kelly said.

“The rights of workers is clearly an election issue. Workers are entitled to employment law which supports and ensures fairness at work.” Kelly said.

ENDS

For further comment, please contact:

Helen Kelly, President, CTU, 021 776 741

For reporters:

Key points

90 Day trial periods

• Last year 27% of employers dismissed at least one person on a trial period. This is up from 19% the year before. Since at least 69,000 employers used trial periods this equates to tens of thousands of workers dismissed.

• It is notable that MBIE hasn’t managed to find any workers who have been dismissed on trial periods to talk to (perhaps because they only spoke to 19 workers including only 2 in retail, 1 in construction).

• Trial periods are generally imposed as a standard clause without negotiation in employment agreements. Most workers surveyed did not know that trial periods were negotiable (p 43).

• International evidence suggests that initiatives like trial periods can lead to more ‘churn’ by increasing both hiring and firing. Trial periods are no substitute for good recruitment and performance management processes. By suggesting to employers that they can skimp on these can lead to bad hiring and HR practices.

• Employee survey results indicated a broad range of people were starting on trial periods, rather than groups that could be seen to be at a labour market disadvantage. Employers are using them as standard practice for all employees, and skilled technicians and tradespeople are more likely to be affected. However recent migrants were one-and-a-half-times as likely to start on a trial period (51 % versus 34%). Notable in light of acknowledged problems of migrant exploitation.

• Employers, employees, unions and employment experts have all indicated that 90 day trials have encouraged some employers to adopt short term hire and fire patterns (p 40).

• Note that there appear to be some missing sections such as whether changes to the 90 day trial period have increased the balance of fairness (p 44).

Cashing up of annual leave

· These changes have had low uptake (8% of workers in the last year p 29) and those who were requesting cashing up were low paid workers.

· It appears that, in breach of the law, some employers may be forcing their workers to cash up their annual leave or allowing them to cash up more than a week (34% of workers in the UMR survey who had cashed up leave had cashed up more than a week of leave in the past year p 30).

· One Auckland security firm said they believed their staff didn’t want or expect annual holidays and would rather have the cash (p 30).

Union access

· Most employers with a union presence in their workplace noted that they already had a good constructive working relationship with unions (p 34).

· No unions thought that the changes had a positive effect and 17% thought that the changes had negatively impacted on workplace relations.

· Only one of the 19 employees surveyed belonged to a union (p 34).

Huia Welton | Communications & Campaigns Advisor | New Zealand Council of Trade Unions – Te Kauae Kaimahi

ph: +64 4 802 3817 | cell: +64 021 524 502 |

www.facebook.com/fairness.at.work | www.union.org.nz | Follow us on twitter: @fairnessNZ

Unions – we’re about Fairness

 

Fundraising website for Forestry Workers Memorial Day – please circulate and support

19 Feb

Dear everyone,

Below is a link to our fundraising website to bring the forestry families to Wellington for WMD events on 27/28 April including a memorial service on 27, a street collection and procession on 28 (a general union event for all workers killed at work). We are going to need reasonable sums to get all those that want to come down here but it will be a very worthwhile event and with the high visibility of this campaign and the families themselves fundraising, I am confident we can get there. Can you please circulate this as widely as possible including in union newsletters etc if possible.

Thanks and regards

Helen Kelly

President

NZ Council of Trade Unions

https://www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/supportforestryfamilies

Health and Safety Rep Training – a cut by any other name

15 Jan

By Helen Kelly, President, NZ Council of Trade Unions

(Reprinted from The Standard)

I couldn’t give a rats arse about Jordan Williams and his new little Act campaigning vehicle against the State, but I do care about health and safety and the manner in which some of the media have run his latest little ruse against training health and safety representatives in the workplace is a disgrace. Judith Collins has used it as a cover to announce the end of worker health and safety training by unions beyond this year, leaving workers unable to access the powers under the Health and Safety Act to issue hazard notices and represent their workmates.

Pike River disaster where 29 miners died proof of the need for Health and Safety training

In the world’s fastest OIA turnaround (just 19 days), Collins has given Williams the advice she sought from ACC regarding the contract it has with the CTU to deliver training to Health and Safety Representatives.

This training is the recognised training workers need under the Act to be able to issue Hazard Notices legally and carry out the role of representative. We have trained over 30,000 workers since 2003 (mostly non-union) to carry out this heroic role despite National cutting down the numbers we can train each year to a new low this year of just 1800 trainees across the whole NZ workforce.

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