Category Archives: 2020 New Zealand

New Zealand: Ten checks for a safe return to work on Tuesday

Today the Council of Trade Unions has released simplified guidance for people going back to work on-site when New Zealand enters Level 3 on Tuesday the 28th of April. President Richard Wagstaff says that the guidance has been put together to provide working people with clarity about what a safe worksite looks like at Level 3.

“By releasing this health and safety guide, we are giving working people, their unions and employers a head start on getting their businesses ready”, he said. “This guide flags key health and safety areas and is a starting point for employers and working people to engage in managing Covid-19 and other new risks at Alert Level 3. These conversations need to happen before people recommence their work duties. These guidelines won’t cover every situation but should be the starting point for a constructive conversation as soon as possible. It’s no secret that better health and safety outcomes are achieved when there is meaningful worker engagement, participation and representation.

“As of Tuesday, the number of people working in New Zealand is expected to roughly double, to one million. Preparations for opening up work sites are well underway. Employers need to be meaningfully engaging now, with the people who will be entering those sites for work on Tuesday, about how they will be keeping everyone safe from catching Covid-19 at work. Employers also need to be providing early reassurance to those who need to stay home that they will be able to make that choice safely and retain their pay.

“We are all getting used to operating in a new working environment, while also trying to understand and apply some complicated principles of infection control, public health, and meeting health and safety obligations. It is more important than ever that workplace procedures are in place for communicating with working people about their health and safety and reporting health and safety problems when they arise. This is very stressful situation for working people who are worried about their risk of exposure, and employers have a clear obligation to protect both physical and mental health in a time of crisis.” The guide can be downloaded at: 

New Zealand: COVID-19 abuses logged with unions – NZCTU

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions has launched an online tool for working Kiwis to identify employers who aren’t doing the right thing during the COVID-19 period.

CTU President Richard Wagstaff said: “We want to ensure that people are able to tell their stories and log what is happening to them. Due to the number and complexity of problems that a significant number of working people are experiencing we need to create a register so that these cases can be triaged and addressed.”

“Where we identify there are systematic breaches of employment law we will be raising these with government.”

“Employment law still needs to be adhered to – employers who breach the law need to be held to account.”

There are 6 main areas we are seeing poor behaviour from employers

  1. Dismissals/redundancies
  2. Annual leave/sick leave use
  3. Use of the “wage subsidy”
  4. Changing terms and conditions of employment
  5. Treatment of casual and other precarious working people
  6. Health and safety/essential services

“We strongly encourage anyone who has not been treated fairly to ensure that they log it with us. Together, we will identify whether there are specific employers and industries which need to be urgently communicated with,” Wagstaff said.

Click here for a full-length HD interview with CTU Secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges as she explains the initiative and why it’s needed.