NZ Labour Letter May 2018, Vol. 9 No. 5

The New Zealand Labour Letter is published as a service to Labour by AIL of New Zealand Ltd.

New Zealand Labour News

Public Service Association called on Labour Government to “deliver on its promises” of a Living Wage for all public service workers. The union cited new data which revealed “how many workers aren’t paid enough to live decently.” Nearly 1 in 10 staff at the Ministry of Justice are paid below the Living Wage, which PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay said, “is very disappointing.” According to PSA, 329 Justice staff are paid below $20.55 an hour, most of them administrative staff supporting Court Registry workers. "Without admin staff, the court system would grind to a halt," Barclay said in a statement. "It’s imperative these workers are paid enough to feed and clothe their families, pay their bills and save for their retirement. We expect the Ministry to urgently address this in bargaining, which will begin shortly." He said PSA research has identified more than 1000 public service employees who are paid below the Living Wage.

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Wage theft at Maccas – $1 million a year and counting

By Mike Treen, Unite National Director

(Reprinted from The Daily Blog)

I am getting a bit annoyed with McDonald's.

Unite Union believes they have been cheating staff of their alternative holiday entitlements for working on a public holiday. But it has been an uphill battle to get them to accept that fact.

At the end of last year, the Employment Relations Authority ruled on a case brought by the Labour Inspector against Wendy's following a complaint from a Unite member in Christchurch.  In essence, the authority said that so long as a worker had worked a majority of the same day over at least a three-month period then they were entitled to an alternative holiday or lieu day. Working a majority of days over three months made it an “otherwise working day” for them and therefore met the legal test in the Holidays Act. If you had been employed less than three months then a simple majority of weeks worked would make you eligible and a shorter period on a new shift pattern could also create eligibility.

Strike at night during contract negotiations in 2013


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Scheduled Increase in Maximum Union Fee

After 1st April the maximum Unite Union fee will increase from $6 a week to $6.25 a week. This is a scheduled adjustment we make every two years to allow for inflation and to maintain low fees for those earning less.

Because nearly all of our members have incomes which can vary from week to week, Unite has a percentage based fee system where most pay 1.1% of their weekly earnings in union fees. This means someone earning $400 will pay $4.40 a week, $300 would be $3.30 a week and so on.

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Millions owed to workers - Stolen holiday leave needs repaying now

Unite Union wants answers from the government as to why hundreds of thousands of workers are still waiting to have the annual leave stolen from them in the past restored.

It is three years since Unite first wrote to major employers in the fast food industry telling them that they were miscalculating annual leave for their staff.

It is two years since MBIE, the government agency responsible, admitted being in error in the payment of their own staff.

Last week we discovered that the firm Xero, who provide accounting software for a third of all New Zealand small businesses as well as online payroll services, have sent us and other employers their method for calculating annual leave and it means employers will get many workers annual leave just plain wrong. This firm may be de facto the largest payroll provider in the country with hundreds of thousands of clients.


Unite has been fighting to get workers paid leave they have been cheated from for last three years

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Dismissal of SkyCity worker all kinds of wrong

By John Crocker, Unite Union Industrial Officer

SkyCity has been ordered by the Employment Court to reinstate a Table Games manager who was fired over a mix up with betting limits for one of its high rollers.

In the early hours of 17 February 2016 a confusing briefing was given to the morning shift at the Auckland casino. Hours later it was believed that a high roller may have been playing bets over the maximum and was due a refund, which was communicated to her. In trying to sort out the amount, it was discovered no error had been made, but the petulant player was insistent and the casino feared losing her as a player. Later a goodwill payment of over $300k was made to the player (who had threated not to pay the casino $3M she owed).

Outgoing SkyCity CEO Nigel Morrison demanded "appropriate disciplinary action" that the employment court found to be unlawful


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Workers out of pocket due to decades of poor govt policy - CTU

Major structural changes to the economy have left workers out of pocket and changes are needed to address the imbalance, the Council of Trade Union (CTU) says following the release of a new Productivity Commission report.

"Labour share of income - the proportion of the total income of a country that goes to working people as distinct from the owners of capital - has been dropping for decades as a direct result of government decisions," CTU Economist Bill Rosenberg says.

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Unite Union calls for the end of Oil and Gas Exploration in NZ

Leaders from across different sectors and walks of life have signed on to the Open Letter

Unite Union is proud to have signed an important and powerful letter to our Prime Minister calling for an end to oil and gas exploration in New Zealand.

The signatories on the Greenpeace-led letter include the Public Service Association, the New Zealand Medical Association, Unite Union, the Public Health Association and Forest and Bird.

We hope that other Unions will join us in calling on the government to follow up on their pre-election comments that climate change is our "nuclear free moment." Unfortunately they have not confirmed an end to exploring for fossil fuels, which need to be left in the ground.

It is ridiculous that the new government plans to use our money to plant a billion (mostly) pine trees whilst continuing to financially support the digging up of fossil fuels. Our government should be supporting workers transitioning to decent, well paid, environmentally and socially positive livelihoods instead.

Here is the full letter

Gary Cranston

Fast Food Lead Organiser, Auckland and Northland

Climate justice spokesperson


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Unionised fast food workers celebrate new minimum wage "plus" increases

Hi to all Unite Union members at McDonald's, Restaurant Brands, BK and Wendy's.

On April 1 this year the minimum wage will go up 75 cents to $16.50 an hour.

For McDonald's and Restaurant Brands workers, their rates will increase another 10 cents an hour on top of that to make an 85 cent increase. We negotiated a ten cents an hour increase above the minimum last year as well, which means the start rate at McDonald's and Restaurant Brand's will move to $16.70 an hour.

We are close to finishing negotiation for Wendy's and BK workers and both companies have promised to start their start at 10 cents above the minimum each year as well.

Unite strikes from 2013 part of a long campaign to boost wages in the fast food industry.

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What is special about March 8th?

On March 8th every year we celebrate

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UPDATE: Unite Union members to Rally for Climate Justice 🌪 Stop the Oil Summit

On 27 March 2018 the oil and gas industry is holding its annual business conference. Government ministers are lobbied, businesses network and oil and gas exploration permits are announced. Even though the global oil industry can’t use the oil we already know about without pushing the planet's atmosphere into runaway climate chaos.


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