CTU steps up – how to force Labour to adopt sick leave changes


Someone has told the CTU that there’s a pandemic on and we face a unique crisis of capitalism that kinda forces them to get off their bums and you know, start seriously advancing the rights of workers.

COVID-19: Unions to pressure Government on extending sick leave in New Zealand from five days to 10

Newshub can reveal the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is planning to pile pressure on the Government to extend minimum sick leave for New Zealand workers from five days to at least 10.

Cabinet documents reveal most New Zealanders completely run out of sick leave each year. 

“People need to stay away from others if they’re not well,” CTU president Richard Wagstaff told Newshub. “Extending sick leave will help us do that.”

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To date the CTUs response to the greatest challenge to capitalism since the the Great Depression has been a dob in a bad boss phone line and Industrial reform that Labour have ignored.

So their renewed focus on kicking arse for workers should be given a round of applause because the solutions put forward are all utterly necessary in a Pandemic work environment.


  • Extend the COVID-19 leave support scheme for the next year, making it easier to access, and covering anyone with coronavirus symptoms, including those waiting to be referred to testing
  • Increase the legal minimum paid sick leave from five to 10 days over the next year, with support from the Government to help small businesses make the change
  • Make sick leave available if people need to care for their dependents like their children and their parents
  • Remove the six-month stand-down to access sick leave when you start a new job
  • Get rid of the previous National-led Government’s law change that can require a doctor’s certificate after just one day of sick leave

These are all excellent additions to the existing sickness provisions which are currently some of the lowest and weakest in the world.

An annual 2 days mental health days would also be positive symbolism at this time of heightened stress for many workers.

So how do we implement these good ideas, something the CTU have been painfully weak at?

Like the Greens, the CTU have lacked the tactical ability to force policy past Labour’s mediocre Ministers, so how do we get this excellent and necessary upgrade to our sickness laws past Labour who are already talking down this change?

TDB has been working on a tactic for progressive Left voters to consider for September.

Last election when the Greens dipped below 5%, TDB called on progressive Left voters to vote Green to enable Jacinda to be in a position to negotiate a majority with NZ First.

This election we are considering a bold strategy to seriously advance a progressive agenda into the second term of a Labour Government.

We will drop this in the first week of the election campaign so all progressive Left voters can consider the strategy to push Labour into a position where they are forced to pass these sickness laws plus a broad platform of fundamental progressive change.

Increasingly having independent opinion in a mainstream media environment which mostly echo one another has become more important than ever, so if you value having an independent voice going into this pandemic and 2020 election – please donate here.

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  1. COVID-19 has shown the hypocrisy of many employers regarding sick pay and sick leave.
    I can give as an example my own job.
    Before COVID19 it was like the old joke about not calling in sick unless you were nearly dead.
    Now they want you to stay at home if you have a sniffle.
    But when it starts to cost them money you can bet that that the new benevolent attitude will quickly revert to the old one.
    And then there is the problem that some employers will not pay up unless you have a medical certificate. That means going to the doctor and probably not your usual doctor because you usually have to make an appointment a few weeks ahead to see your family GP. So instead you go to a clinic and see some generic factory line medic who doesn’t know you, asks a couple of questions, tells you to say “Ah”, signs a form and in two minutes you are out of the clinic again up to $80 poorer because you are not a registered patient.
    If it can be legislated that everyone should have a minimum of four weeks’ annual leave then it can be legislated that workers can have more sick leave.
    I wonder what the National Party’s attitude is to workers having more sick leave? The same as workers having more annual leave?
    Time to put that question to Todd Muller.

  2. I thought it was a cop out when Lees Galloway was asked about increasing sick pay he suggested people could negotiate it in their employment contract !!!
    It has to be changed in the legislation too have any legal effect.
    I think he should look again at why the party he joined was created in the first place.

  3. Full time workers and part time or seasonal workers are viewed differently.
    4 weeks annual leave for full timers with 10 days min sick leave .
    Pro rata for the rest unless covered by a more generous agreement.

  4. So, our usually asleep at the wheel central labour organisation is doing something useful…far be it from me as a lifelong union supporter to further criticise them on that. Minister Lees Galloway has given a response already though–basically “not on my watch you won’t be getting 10 days” or the other 4 points in the CTU plan, in this term anyway, he added on RNZ. Just as Minister Ms Sepuloni may as well of said on the Welfare Experts Working Group 42 recommendations–“not on my watch, not while the neoliberal execs make the running in my Dept.”

    In one way the old NZCTU fall back line is correct–“we can only be as strong as our affiliated Unions”, of course in a time of low union density, advancing militant struggle without wide support can fail, but not fighting at all is guaranteed to fail!

    “Unity at all costs”, class peace, rather than “unite all who can be united to fight the class enemy” has defined the CTU and was the reason for its formation in 1987. Jim Knox would have ripped this Govt Caucus up for the proverbial.

    The Govt. has dropped billions on the SME and business sector in a widely abused, “high trust model” and they still can’t grant NZ Labour Party cheerleaders in chief–the NZCTU–the pittance that 10 days sick leave would cost in comparison. For crissakes, prior to the union busting 1991 Employment Contracts Act, most if not all NZ workers enjoyed 10 days, plus domestic and Bereavement/Tangihanga Leave on top–gained by union struggle and spread through site agreements and the old Award system. Old battles tend to be refought and this is one of them, lets see it through!

    • Good points, as always TM. And why not involve old unionist Andrew Little in this demand? Should be part of his make-up so we expect him to push this through

      • I think it’s the wrong demand though, bit like focusing on period poverty instead of actual poverty…. neoliberalism is winning while those who are supposed to be against it get bogged down in the small things while the bigger things that unions have worked for, for decades are disappearing rapidly!

  5. I agree with the CTU,

    we need to give workers the paid leave as many work in dangerous situations today and we lag behind many other countries in this issue.

    My Son works in Germany where they get 12 days sick leave I am informed in his region of southern Germany.

    What about the chemical exposures many workers are consistently exposed to now?

    Many work in manufacturing industries and many of those jobs are requiring chemicals to be used there, so let the workers get better sick leave.

  6. In the age of gig economy, where fewer people even have jobs anymore with sick leave, can we try to actually get more requirements for actually jobs, aka a chorus worker still works for chorus if they are repairing the lines etc and compulsory redundancy payments for anybody losing a job, which will discourage as we have seen in Covid, companies firing on mass and then days later re advertising jobs…. that practise of constant lay offs is expanding in NZ and is a lot more harmful to poverty going forward than sick leave days!

    As somebody has pointed out, it now costs $60 to get the sick leave letter from the doctor… again people can’t afford to work anymore.

    It’s easier to be on a benefit these days that working and being made redundant constantly, or if you get sick while working paying $60 every time to prove it!

    There should be a lot more working from home in NZ as well to cut down on congestion.

  7. This from savenz –
    companies firing on mass and then days later re advertising jobs…. that practise of constant lay offs is expanding in NZ and is a lot more harmful to poverty going forward than sick leave days!

    Fits some lines from a tough talking commentator on the reason for the decline of the USA.
    America’s bosses will see opportunity in a post-Covid world, he says.
    “A lot of American CEOs will be saying ‘I can get by with a lot less employees, I can get by with a lot less stores, I can cut costs to the bone’.

    “People around the world often don’t understand how ruthless American capitalism is, and in this case you can be sure that Wall Street and boardrooms are sitting around and learning exactly the wrong lessons from coronavirus.”

    America is a failed state with many problems layered upon others, racism being just one, Haque says.
    “One of things that has happened in America is that because the white American majority is so racist, they didn’t understand that the consequences of their racism was going to be their own impoverishment a few decades later.”

    • I don’t think job losses are to do with racism for the most part, it is to do with discrimination against paying anybody who costs more or who is perceived to cost more and not employing those perceived to expect more and to cut any long term and innovation going forward …

      This tends to only work in the short term so you see massive companies bought to their knees or with record losses using this approach and start to kill people, but get away with it, due to the complicity of global money and media and lobbyists and lawyers.

      Example in US is
      The 1997 merger that paved the way for the Boeing 737 Max crisis
      (note Boeings departing CEO leaves company with $93 million amid 737 Max supplier layoffs)

      For a NZ reference Air NZ has now got an ex Walmart CEO who has just made the Air NZ executive safety officer redundant as part of the new ‘management’ team…

      Funny enough Fonterra also made their staff redundant in 2015 to pursue their disastrous policies that lost the farmers (and NZ) hundreds of millions…. what is telling is who they made redundant (safety, risk, quality research and development) and how it effected them a few years later

      “The 230 cuts announced on Monday hit administration roles in sales – ingredients, consumer, marketing, research and development, communications, health and safety, food safety and quality, group resilience and risk, property, procurement and change management.”

      Three years later Fonterra post record losses mostly from poorly thought out, overseas partnerships that failed, repeatedly for Fonterra while making the NZ money flow to overseas partners interests.

      Fonterra posts $605m loss, turns business upside down

      Meanwhile the CEO’s get rewarded for lowering safety standards, doing financial engineering and making poor decisions, which ends in failure a few years later, while they pocket the money!

      Never mind, lets not worry about planes falling out of the sky, or why jobs and quality are disappearing all around the world based on short term performance bonuses to a few and ravenous shareholders working on failed logic, that kill the company a few years later.

  8. Businesses ripping of consumers and lowering safety has become entrenched in NZ…

    Air NZ concerned about Auckland Airport’s loss of ‘aeronautical competency’

    Safety and experience and competency is not necessary in this day and age (sarc)
    Air NZ executives axed as airline cuts costs

    Customer brand loyalty not needed as Air NZ are refusing full refunds for cancelled flights UNLIKE UK that has automatic full refunds for Covid related flying.

    “Under the law, consumers are entitled to receive a refund for their cancelled flights, despite the challenges the industry is currently facing. We support airlines offering consumers vouchers and rebooking alternatives where it makes sense for the consumer. But it is important that consumers are given a clear option to request a cash refund without unnecessary barriers. We expect airlines to provide refunds for cancelled flights as soon as practically possible, whilst appreciating there are operational challenges for airlines in the current circumstances.”


  9. This isnt on the CTU its on f**king Labour. This strikes at the heart of what Labour is supposed to be a Socialist party for working people. If they can’t embrace decent labour laws then just bugger off home and let the Nats rule. No bloody difference!

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