E tū is making sure workers’ voices lead the way with the kick-off of a new health and safety programme for Māori, Pasefika, and migrant workers in manufacturing.
Funded jointly by the union and a Workplace Injury Prevention grant from ACC, E tū’s worker leadership programme addresses the high rate of workplace injuries among these groups in the sector.
The programme, Ngā Puna Whai Oranga, begins with a series of hui from August to November, followed by workplace workshops until the end of 2021.
A worker in the manufacturing industry for 18 years and the Women’s Committee Convenor on E tū’s National Executive, Wheeti Haenga says she’s really excited about the course and rapt that ACC are supporting the programme – a “big stride forward” for Māori, Pasefika, and migrant workers.
“We’ve never had a mentor for Māori or Pasefika in my workplace, and I think this programme will really help to bring our people – particularly our young people – together.”
E tū Food and Manufacturing Industry Council Convenor Gadiel Asiata says the programme has been “long-needed” in the manufacturing industry and is a valuable opportunity for workers to play a leading role in ensuring effective health and safety practices.
“We don’t want just a ‘tick-box’ exercise or flyer-on-a-noticeboard-type approach. Instead, we need processes that are championed by both employers and employees, with strong worker role models,” he says.
The two-year programme will start with around 150 workers, with room for more as the project expands.
After the hui conclude, onsite workshops will cover issues including cultural leadership, workplace risk-management tools, and overcoming barriers to leadership.
E tū Runanga Convenor Sharryn Barton says she hopes it will provide an opportunity for workers to connect with their cultural values in the workplace, given the high rates of injury for tāngata whenua.
“Health and safety is based in Manaakitanga, which means looking after people, your family, and the place you’re in. We need to recognise that we all have mana, and how well we look after others also determines our own wellbeing.”
Sharryn is grateful to ACC for its generous support of the programme. She says she hopes Ngā Puna Whai Oranga will inspire the same passion and commitment to improving conditions for manufacturing workers and their families as the late Helen Kelly achieved in the forestry and agricultural sectors.
ACC Implementation Manager, Workplace Safety and Levies, Virginia Burton-Konia says they are pleased E tū has been a successful grant recipient.
“We are delighted to be able to support a grant initiative that champions improved health and safety outcomes for Māori, Pasefika, and migrant workers.”
Ngā Puna Whai Oranga will link to existing health and safety programmes, such as WorkSafe’s Maruiti and Puataunofo, and will also be assessed by AUT’s Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Research.
E tū plans to continue Ngā Puna Whai Oranga until 2027.