Hi [FIRST NAME],
Welcome to the November Unite News for members and supporters. To change your subscription details use the links at the top or bottom of this email.
The Government has invented a ‘crisis’ in ACC to give them the excuse to sell it to private insurance companies. If this happens, you will pay more and it will be harder and take longer to get compensation when you have an accident.
“If you have children,” says ACC Founder Sir Owen Woodhouse, “you’d be concerned if you found that they estimate your child will be at school for so long, will or won’t go to university and will cost so much, and that that full cost has to be paid when they start school” – but that’s how the Government is looking at ACC.
What privatising ACC means?
Private insurance companies need to make profit, which will make ACC more expensive to run, and will increase levies. Private insurers will also try to minimise pay-outs, so it may be harder for you to claim if you have an accident.
Who will really benefit from this?
According to Merrill Lynch before the 2008 election, private insurance companies could make $200 million a year from a privatised ACC. That’s profit sucked out of New Zealand and into the hands of overseas multinationals.
Where is the Government heading?
Nick Smith, Minister for ACC, has already revealed he’s been considering proposals to make workers pay a $100 excess and cut compensation levels by a quarter. Cutting coverage, and calling ACC insurance rather than social security, just to make it easier to privatise.
Is ACC in financial dire straits?
No – according to their latest annual report (2009), ACC has revenue of about $4 billion a year and expenditure of less than $3billion. Costs have grown, but because of increased coverage and general increases in medical costs. But admin costs for the ACC work account are only 19.7% of services compared to Australia’s 25.2% average.
What is happening to entitlements?
A bill has been introduced to Parliament that will cut entitlements for part- time and casual workers, hike up levies, give employers a financial incentive to avoid reporting accidents, cut coverage for work-related gradual process disease and reduce the definition of full rehabilitation from 35 to 30 hours work a week.
The Government is looking to privatise ACC sooner or later. We need to stop that happening. Go to www.fairness.org.nz for more info and to register your support. .
SkyCity Cinemas sold
SkyCity Cinemas have been sold to Australian entertainment group Amalgamated Holdings Ltd (AHL) for $59 million. This included 14 Skycity cinema complexes in New Zealand, including Wellington’s Embassy Theatre, plus joint venture interests in the Rialto Group and interests in Fiji.
AHL is the parent company of Greater Union and the Event cinemas which are a both prominent Australian cinema companies.
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has negotiated starting rates for cinema workers from $13.59 (AUD) up to $23.05 (AUD) with technicians paid up to $53,943 (AUD, including allowances). This would be between $17.27-29.72 if converted to New Zealand dollars! Unite is hopeful that AHL will be bringing these wage rates with them when the sale is complete. Following due diligence the sale will be completed by February 2010.
RBL Salaried Managers Negotiation
Restaurant Brands Limited Salaried Managers Bargaining team met with RBL management last month to discuss claims for a union agreement. Both the union and company presented their claims and agreed to meet again to discuss further on 9th December. Overall the negotiations were positive and Unite is optimistic about the process so far.
If you would like to know more then please contact Tom at email@example.com or 029-445-5703.
RBL Managers’ bargaining team (left to right): Matt McCarten (Unite General Secretary), Tom Buckley (Unite Organiser), Tim Hata (Pizza Hut Store Manager), Emma Garrick (Starbucks Store Manager) and Christine Hogan (KFC Assistant Manager)
3,300 sign up for $15 hr in one day
The Campaign for a Living Wage had our best week so far last week, with a record 5,500 people signing the petition to raise the minimum wage throughout the country. A big team of Living Wagers were out in force at the Grey Lynn festival, where we gathered 3,300 signatures highly visible in the new yellow t shirts and red caps, and thousands more wore our stickers.
The support from low paid workers continues to flood in. Over 500 workers from the hospitals organised by the Service and Food Workers Union and the PSA endorsed the petition at their strike and march on Friday, and another 400 plus teachers and school support staff from the NZEI signed on their big march against education cuts and low pay on Saturday.
The support from the rank and file in other unions is very high- practically all the busworkers in Auckland have signed the petition- and we want to continue getting the petition into workplaces that suffer low pay. We will be supporting Warehouse workers when they take action in the run up to Christmas.
The community stalls around the country are also performing strongly, with hundreds of names gathered in Whangerai, Hamilton, Wellington and Dunedin.
If you want to help these stalls out- get in contact with the regional campaign organiser at one of the numbers below.
Organised stalls in Palmerston North and Christchurch will be hitting the streets this week and people from other parts of the country who want materials to run their own stalls can txt or phone me for supplies.
This coming fortnight sees big stalls on the Climate Change protests in Wellington and Auckland, the Dalai Lama speech at the Vector Arena and the Christmas in the Park concert in Auckland's Domain. What we're finding is that one person with a petition board can gather about 30 to 40 signatures per hour. So it really is a question of more people joining us on the stalls, to push those numbers up into the thousands, and we did that hard at the Grey Lynn festival.
Finally, if we are not going on the attack, then the greedy bosses and politicians will. We know there is going to be a Zero percent increase for workers in the Public Sector- that is why we saw the teachers and the hospital workers march in their thousands last week. Anybody who thinks there is going to be a pay rise in the private sector without fighting for it will be sadly disappointed. Don Brash thinks the minimum wage should be LOWERED to $10 an hour, and many business leaders agree with him.
This is why we are organising and fighting. If we don't push for more, the employers will take what little rights and conditions we have. There is massive public support for our demand for a Living Wage out there- it's time that workers set the agenda on pay in New Zealand.
To help with the campaign contact Joe Carolan: firstname.lastname@example.org , text 029 44 55 702 or become Living Wage's friend on Facebook.
Unite has Signed On with Greenpeace’s campaign to get the government to take climate change seriously. This month world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to Sign On to a global agreement for action. For NZ to do our bit to help avoid catastrophic climate change, John Key needs to go to Copenhagen and and Sign On to reduce New Zealand’s emissions by 40 per cent before 2020.
All over the world Greenpeace and many other groups and people are turning their attention to this issue as the most important priority for 2009. In New Zealand Greenpeace has launched the Sign On campaign . The aim is to provide a platform for New Zealanders to Sign On and by doing so say very clearly that they want to see NZ do the right thing and want Prime Minister John Key to go to Copenhagen and do the right thing.
Signing On is simple and easy and we hope that everyone who does Sign On will pick up the challenge to convince their friends and family to also Sign On.
Climate change is occurring at a speed previously not thought possible and we’re running out of time to turn things around.
The United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in December may be our last chance to avoid climate chaos.
Know your rights:
Christmas and New Years holidays
If you work on any public holiday, you should be paid at least time and a half for the time you actually work and get another day off in lieu.
You are entitled to the greater of:
- relevant daily pay less any penal rates plus half that amount again (time-and-a-half)
- or relevant daily pay including any penal rates
Is it "Otherwise a working day"?
You are entitled to a paid day off on a public holiday if it would otherwise be a working day for you. The concept of what would otherwise be a working day is important for working out your entitlement regarding public holidays.
Where the working week or roster is constant then it is usually easy to work out if you would normally be working. If your working week is not constant then the rule is that you are entitled to a day off if you worked on the same day of gthe week for at least 3 of the previous 4 weeks. For example, Christmas day is a Friday this year so if you worked all or 3 of the 4 Fridays before Christmas day then you are entitled to a paid day off. If you only worked 1 or 2 of the Fridays then Christmas day isn't "otherwise a working day" for you.
2009 Christmas and New Year holidays
These holidays fall on Fridays and Saturdays this year.
If you normally work on a Friday and/or Saturday but don’t actually work on the public holidays then you are entitled to your “relevant daily pay” for them. To calculate relevant daily pay you go to the Department of Labour's website
If you are working on these holidays then you are entitled to at least time-and-a-half of your "relevant daily pay" rate and another day off in lieu.
If you don't normally or actually work on the Saturdays (Boxing Day and January 2nd) but do normally work Mondays then your public holiday is observed on the Monday. This means you either get a paid day off or, if you work, you are entitled to at least time-and-a-half and another day in lieu.
Confused? Here are some examples
The Department of Labour website has some useful examples of entitlements for the 2009 holidays:
If you normally work Monday to Friday
If you normally work Monday to Saturday and are required to work
If you normally work Tuesday to Friday
Shifts that cross over midnight
There are special provisions if your shift starts one day and ends on another day - for example when your shift starts at 5pm on New Years Eve (not a holiday) and ends at 2am on New Years Day ( a holiday). By written agreement with your employer the holiday can be transferred to another day as long as you are due to work on that day.
Let a computer work it out for you
This is a guide only and your employment agreement may have additional provisions for holidays. If you are unsure about your legal entitlement the Department of Labour website has more detailed information and a handy online calculator which makes it fairly simple to work out what pay rate and days-in-lieu you are entitled to.
Know your rights: Lost or damaged product
Q: When an employer asks you to pay for damaged or lost product do I have to pay?
A: No, it is illegal for an employer to deduct money from your wages for damaged or lost product unless you agree to do this.
Q: What can they do if my till is short?
Sometimes an employer will ask workers to pay the difference when a till is short. This is illegal unless you agree.
In both cases it is possible for an employer to start a disciplinary process against you if there is a clear case of negligence. If you are unsure about anything then contact your delegate or organiser and discuss it with them.
Unite thinks that Don Brash needs a lesson on which way is up and which way is down. Brash has proposed to reduce New Zealand’s income gap with Australia by cutting the minimum wage to $10 an hour, re-introducing youth rates for workers under 18, and slashing public services and conditions that benefit the working poor.
Campaign for a Living Wage spokesperson Joe Carolan says “In order to reach Australia’s income levels, we should increase our minimum wage to $15 hr this year, and to two third’s of the average wage afterwards. The poorest Australian workers get a minimum wage of NZ$17.50 an hour, over $200 more a week than their Kiwi counterparts.
”We’ve been out gathering thousands of names in support of this demand every week on the streets and in the workplaces throughout New Zealand. 4 out of 5 people agree with us. Workers are sick of a low pay economy, and Brash’s Taskforce 2025 shock therapy is the opposite of what Kiwi battlers want.”
Economics 101- $15 per hour is a lot closer to $17.50 than $10 an hour. If there are cuts to be made to close our income gap with Australia, it should be in the inordinate amount of funding given by government to neoliberal has-been illiterates who can’t tell up from down. “
See also Unite organiser John Minto's Frontline blog: Brash report a cut and paste of ACT policy
National takes us down memory lane
John Key’s year-long honeymoon is over. Or, at the very least, it’s the beginning of the end. The first hint that his Teflon existence was about to expire was the fallout from Rodney Hide and Hone Harawira’s overseas trips. Both problems, created by Key’s junior coalition partners, were avoidable and self-inflicted, but National gets some of the public opprobrium by dint of its association.
Before these maddening events, Key’s changes to Accident Compensation hinted at a right-wing direction, but most people were somewhat pacified by our Prime Minister’s assurance that his proposed changes were a managerial response to a cashflow crisis, rather than philosophical. But after this week, no one should be under any illusion that this National-led Government plans to implement an ideological agenda.... read more of Matt's latest Herald on Sunday column. Read Matt's previous columns here
Electric Shock with those Fries?
Out of work and willing to relocate? McDonald’s is advertising for an assistant manager for its sole franchise in Cuba - serving up burgers and fries in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The help-wanted ad popped up recently at the McVirginia.com website. Candidates must have restaurant management experience, possess a valid United States passport and be willing to relocate to Cuba. A spokeswoman would not say how many had applied. (Source: AP)
CEA’s going online.
We will be putting most of the collective employment agreements online at www.unite.org.nz over the next few weeks. If Unite has negotiated a collective agreement with your employer and you are a Unite member then you are on a collective agreement. Your employer should have given you a copy but if you don’t have it you will be able to download it.
They are legal documents and often not easy to understand. We are writing some “plain english” summaries of the bigger contracts and will put them up online as they are completed.
Joe wants you!
Community activist, teacher and Unite union delegate Joe Carolan is leading the $15 an hour campaign full time. He brings a wealth of experience in social justice movements in Ireland and Aotearoa. If you want to be a Working Class Hero then email him here , text 029 44 55 702 or become Living Wage's friend on Facebook.
Joe is looking for volunteers for some big events in Auckland in addition to the weekly petition stalls on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Xmas in the Park,
Auckland Domain, 12th Dec, 7pm
Green Day, Vector Arena, 18th and 19th Dec, 6.30pm
Wages fall….except for union members!
In the past year, union members in New Zealand have achieved pay increases above the rate of inflation while non-unionised workers have seen their pay drop in real terms according to new statistics.
Employers usually pass on union negotiated increases to non-union workers - so these figures show that the more unionised a workplace is the better off all of its workers will be.
The majority of workers (52%) got no increase, however it was almost entirely non- unionised workers who didn’t get pay rises. Nearly all non-union workers got an effective pay cut – 50% got 2% less than inflation, a few did even worse.
Nearly all union members got a pay rise above inflation – 50% got 1-3% above inflation, 25% got more than that.
These figures show the direct benefit of union membership, and that together we are able to protect ourselves from pay cuts even in the midst of a recession.
Belonging to a union is crucial to achieving pay increases ahead of inflation.
Analysis of Labour Cost Index statistics from The Standard
Unite members will be getting new membership cards and packs over the next few weeks. Training is underway to show Delegates the new packs so they can distribute them to current members. We are asking current members to update their contact details to keep our records up to date.
The packs contain a replacement membership card, a union information handbook as well as offers for free and discounted services and education courses.
The membership card will have the ClubCard discount card on the back, which isn’t operational yet but should be active for discount savings in 2010. We will let members know when it is up and running.
Unite in the media
Read Unite Organiser John Minto's latest Frontline blog:
Brash report a cut and paste of ACT policy
Read John's previous columns here
New Auckland office phone numbers
The Unite national office in Auckland has a new phone system and with it comes new direct-dial numbers for our staff.
The main, 0800 and fax numbers remain the same (see below) but there are new direct-dial numbers, most of which will connect to an organiser’s cellphone if they are not at their desk.
Alex Muir . . . . . . . .09 974 1734
Bernie Harris . . . . .09 974 1725
Bernie Mulhern . . . .09 974 1738
Daphna Whitmore . 09 974 1733
Desmond Leota . . 09 974 1731
Jared Phillips . . . . .09 974 1721
Joe Carolan. . . . . . 09 974 1736
John Minto. . . . . . . 09 974 1739
Liam Walsh . . . . . . 09 974 1726
Mike Treen . . . . . . .09 974 1735
Natasha Henry . . . 09 845 2132
Omar Hamed . . . . .09 974 1728
Tom Buckley . . . . . 09 974 1737
Rima Taraia . . . . . .09 974 1729
phone: 0800 2 UNITE
Fax: 09 846 9509
PO Box 7175
phone: 09 845 2132
6A Western Springs Road
Waikato/Bay of Plenty
mobile: 029 494 9863
Manawatu & Wanganui
mobile: 021 029 40 345
Wellington & Marlborough Office
phone: 04 384 2946
mobile: 029 201 3837
mobile: 029 201 3859
Unite Organisers & Staff
Click here for the contact details of all Unite Organisers and staff.