Labour: E tū to unionise Filipino construction workers

(caption for the above picture: E tū educators addressing Filipino construction workers and their families during the first-of-a-series of seminars on "Learn your rights as workers in NZ" in Christchurch on February 12, 2017)

E tū, the biggest private sector union in New Zealand, which was created in 2015 from the merger of several unions, and “provides members with services like workplace representation, legal advice, a freephone support centre, education on work-rights and a political voice”; is now aiming to unionise the construction workers who have immigrated from Philippines and have been an integral part of the Christchurch rebuild in the last six years.

Ron Angel, Industry Co-ordinator, Engineering and Infrastructure, at E tū, who was speaking at the sidelines of a seminar organised by the Union for Filipino construction workers and their families, noted, “Our research shows that not many Filipino workers are a part of any union, which seriously hamper their chances of getting a fair deal from their employers. That's why we have organised this event, a first of many. We are sharing with them our experience of bringing about effective change via the power of unionising. Filipino construction workers have same rights as every other worker in New Zealand. We need to pass on this message.”

His colleague, Michelle Talingting, Filipino Construction Organiser at E tū, and Delia Richards, founder and President of the community organisation Philippine Culture and Sports, also addressed the gathering motivating them to become a part of E tū in large numbers.

FAQs for migrant construction workers: (source - E tū)

• Individual employment agreement vs collective employment agreement
• What happens during bad weather, do I still get paid if I get sent home?
• What are my rights to sick leave?
• Am I allowed to have a smoke?
• Redundancy pay
• Do I get overtime pay and tool allowance?
• What should I do if I or someone I know is being exploited?
• Will joining the union mean that I can lose my job?
• What should I do if I have a problem at work and need help?

- Those wishing to join the E tū, can contact the union's Filipino construction organiser Michelle Talingting at michelle.talingting@etu.nz, or call 0800 1UNION.

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