By Paul McBeth
The newly formed E tu union, created through the merger of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union and the Service and Food Workers Union, wants to make organised labour relevant to workers again in a bid to catch up with changing employment trends.
The two private sector unions unveiled their new name and logo at a launch in Wellington after the 50,000 or so members of each organisation voted to support the amalgamation.
National secretary Bill Newson said the merged entity would be in a stronger position to address the changing face of work as new technology continues to replace workers and employment practices embrace the use of casual and contract staff.
The merger was three years in the making, and members of the EPMU and SWFU workers gave it the final go-ahead in August, creating the country's biggest private sector union and second largest behind the Public Service Association.
E tu, which translates to "stand tall" from Maori, wants to make itself more relevant to a more diverse workforce and is also looking at ways it can represent contractors, who aren't able to bargain collectively because it breaches anti-competition rules in the Commerce Act.
"If we're going to reach out to them, it's got to be something other than the traditional let's get together to negotiate a collective agreement," Mr Newson said.
The amalgamation has budgeted for a three-year transition plan, taking on all staff from next week before it reviews resourcing in 18 months' time.
The merger also includes the Flight Attendant and Related Services Association and Mr Newson said he's keen for other entities to get involved.
The merger had received a mixed response from employers, Mr Newson said, and E tu will go out to businesses to see how it can work with firms.