Thousands of workers show their support for ERA changes
Changes to employment law in the Employment Relations Amendment Bill are a topic of hot debate, today over 1000 workers
showed their support for the proposed changes at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.
FIRST Union is carrying out its Stop-Work meetings around the country to update members on the ERA changes. At
Auckland’s meeting staff from retail, finance, distribution and transport brands took part in a 1000+-strong photo in
support of the proposed ERA bill. The changes seek to restore the minimum standards and protections for employees to
ensure workers are paid fairly and work in acceptable working conditions. Workers are most hopeful about the return of shared responsibility of both parties at the negotiation table – the duty of employers to conclude bargaining – so
they have a fair shot at securing fair pay that values their work.
Hundreds of staff also signed a banner as part of the Worth It retail campaign which calls for the Living Wage, enough hours to live off and relativity to the minimum wage. To find
out more about the campaign see: https://workersfirst.nz/2018/04/11/union-launches-worth-it-campaign-to-help-retail-workers-live-better-lives/
FIRST Union General Secretary Dennis Maga says the proposed changes reverse much of the eroding of workers’ rights over
the last decade.
“The ability to sign multiple companies to one collective agreement where workers are often doing the same work helps to
protect against one company trying to drag down market pay rates. Further, the duty to conclude means companies are
obliged to come to an arrangement with workers and it ensures no one company can ignore the concerns of workers, such as
what we are seeing with bus companies and some retailers.”
Mr Maga says the right to access workers in their workplaces ensures the union sees the common working environment, not
the working environment the company wants to show.
“To be able to ensure workers are in safe working environments we need to be able to access workers at their respective
work sites at a moment’s notice, access to workplaces without notices gives us a true perspective of that work
He says he’s disappointed with recent tactics from business lobby groups.
“The duty to conclude is nothing new, it simply ensures good practice from both sides and is a part of good faith
bargaining. When people receive fair pay that values their work the economy is flush with spending power. Workers want
sustainable business models that increase equality and the overall health of society, and businesses are responding by
adopting more ethical work models. It’s time these lobby groups jumped on board and stopped trying to scaremonger
progressive businesses into following their old, tired, defunct business models.”
Putting Workers First
FIRST Union is New Zealand's second-largest private sector trade union.
Formed in 2011 after the merger between the National Distribution Union and Finsec, FIRST Union represents 27,000
workers in the Finance, Industrial (Textile and Wood), Retail, Stores, Transport and Logistics sectors.
FIRST Union is also affiliated to the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and runs several networks including the Union
Network of Migrants, the Runanga, Fono and Womens' Committee. In 2015 FIRST Union launched Samoa First Union, Samoa's
only private sector union.
Join FIRST Union today for higher pay, better conditions and more say at work.