By Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union
This week I have learnt that at least four Chinese construction workers who came to New Zealand under false pretenses in mid-2018 are being refused an extension of their visas.
These workers were part of a broader group we have represented over the past year who did everything that was asked of them by Immigration NZ when that government agency wanted their help to investigate possible fraud.
These workers had spent $40,000 in agency fees in China to get the job offer and visa originally. They were lied to about what they would earn and how long they could stay. It is simply impossible to earn enough in New Zealand with the one or two-year visas they were given to pay that investment off and then save some more.
Promises made to workers have not been kept by the Immigration MinisterRead more
Half of all Restaurant Brand workers who responded to a survey said they'd been personally affected or witness to sexual harassment at work.
The Unite union poll was inspired by a Stuff #metooNZ investigation into rape, assaults and harassment of KFC and Pizza Hut workers around the country, and was sent out to 9000 current and former union-affiliated Restaurant Brands workers the following day.
In one instance, a respondent reported having to force her way out of a food freezer after her supervisor trapped and tried to kiss her. The woman was six months pregnant at the time.
Another woman said she and other workers were repeatedly groped by her manager at Pizza Hut, who also refused her sick leave when she miscarried. She said she was ignored when she reported the assaults to management at Restaurant Brands' Auckland headquarters.Read more
One of New Zealand's largest hospitality employers has offered a personal apology from its chief executive and promised a review of its culture after a Stuff #metooNZ investigation found it failed several teenage staff who were sexually harassed and assaulted by managers.
In cases going back to 2015, young women - some still at high school - reported being harassed, assaulted and in one case, raped by their male supervisors and managers at Pizza Hut and KFC outlets around the country. In some instances, the manager was promoted after complaints were laid.
The women say Restaurant Brands, which employs 4000 people and is the parent company of both fast food chains, did not investigate their cases properly and failed to keep them safe.
UNITE union supported the claims and has passed Stuff documents which paint a picture of a company which is at best ill-equipped to deal with #MeToo issues in the workplace, and at worst, willfully ignoring serious breaches of staff safety.
Experts say the hospitality industry is rife with abuses of power, and current legislation intended to protect workers is being ignored.
The names of the complainants have been withheld for legal reasons.
Alison Mau reports.
This story is part of the #MeTooNZ investigation into sexual harassment, a partnership between Alison Mau and Stuff. Contact Mau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
McDonald's was one of the companies caught up by the fact that many payroll systems were not fit for purpose and therefore not legally compliant when calculating holiday pay.
Unite Union is very pleased that after McDonald's was originally alerted to the problem by Unite they have been working with both Unite and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE) to fix the problem.
McDonald's has agreed to go back ten years to November 1, 2009, in remediation rather than six years which has been seen by some companies as the maximum they are legally obliged to go back.
The government has implemented a series of racist and elitist changes to immigration policy that is going to create huge hardship and hurt in the migrant communities for anyone who is not already very wealthy.
Immediately after being elected the government imposed a radical cut in the number of people being granted permanent residence. It went from 47,682 to 37,947 in one year from June 2017 to June 2018 and then was further cut to 34,992 for the September 2019 year - a ten year low. (See graph below)
Last Tuesday at 1pm the SkyCity International Convention Centre caught fire. It burned for days and released huge amounts of toxic smoke into the city.
Some workplaces closed on Tuesday and remained closed until it was safe again, however many businesses continued to operate through the danger and exposed their workers to the toxic smoke.
If you or any of your workmates have experienced any of the following symptoms, or left work because you felt sick or stayed home sick, please see your doctor, get a medical certificate for anytime you took off and explain to your doctor that it was a work related injury for ACC purposes:
- burning eyes
- difficulty breathing
- heavy coughing
- loss of consciousness/fainting
The Skycity workers call on all of Auckland to rally in solidarity with them this Friday 7pm at the base of the Skytower to then reclaim Federal Street from the company. Federal Street is our street.
Unite union is making no apologies for demanding assurances and proof, in writing, that the SkyCity workplace is safe. On Labour Day - a day when New Zealand is supposed to celebrate the rights that workers have fought for — union members at SkyCity are not going to be told to shut-up about their health and safety
SkyCity’s priorities were very clear — getting the main gaming floor up and running and getting the cash back rolling in. The decision to re-open on Thursday appears to have been taken before the fire was even fully out.
There is a long history around the world of corporate decision-makers ignoring and downplaying health and safety concerns in the rush to keep business going, We only need to look at Pike River in New Zealand to see how corporates and government agencies can fail workers in the name of profits. Unions need to be active and vigilant to protect workers health and that means asking questions and demanding answers — before it is too late.
SkyCity CEO Graeme Stephens seems to be willing to talk to media about his experience of the fire (complete with pensive photos of him “reflecting” on the fire). As he tries to gag workers who want to talk about their experiences of the fire and the aftermath perhaps he could at least answer some questions we have been trying to get answers to for quite a few days.
Here are ten to start with:
By Joe Carolan, SEA Unite Union Convenor at SkyCity
Workers in SkyCity have just come through a traumatic few days. The massive fire at the Convention Centre was seen by many of our Christian union members as an act of God – “Babylon is burning”. A company that has invested so much in property and so little in staff, seems to have been judged.
The convention centre itself was worth over $700 million. The delays to it netted the company $40 million. They sold the carpark for $220 million. They sold Darwin for $188 million, and they made a profit this year of $171 million. This is a company with over half a billion dollars in the bank, if you add those figures up, and yet it begrudges 3000 workers $20 million between them to Bring Back the Weekend [time and a half for being forced to work unsocial hours]. When workers ask for $20 million it sounds big but compare that to, say, the piece of land that SkyCity bought down in Queenstown, that they will be building a hotel on. That piece of land cost $15 million. So there’s loads of money for property projects and big flagship things. But there’s nothing at all for the workers. Unless you want to be a less ambitious style union and go for a 3 percent pay deal. We don’t.
As SkyCity Casino shareholders attend their AGM tomorrow morning they will be met by striking SkyCity Casino workers fighting to “Bring Back the Weekend”.
“Shareholders will have to walk past some of their low paid employees who are simply asking for some recognition for the unsociable hours they work to generate the huge profits for the shareholders.“ says Skycity site Convenor Joe Carolan.
’It’s time for the shareholders to share with the workers who deliver the profits to them”Read more