FIRST UNION MEDIA RELEASE
Union Runanga and Fono representatives support Just Transition for at-risk workers
FIRST Union Maori and Pasifika members attending their biennial hui have called on the Government to take the twin threats of climate change and automation seriously and ensure a Just Transition for lower-paid workers on the frontlines, noting that Māori and Pasifika workers will be disproportionately affected by technological change and impending environmental collapse, FIRST Union said today.
“We need to be prepared for the inevitable,” said Grahame Andrews, FIRST Union delegate and Runanga convener. “The future of work is going to rely on a low-carbon economy, and workers in sunset industries need a pathway for a transition into sustainable jobs that are fit for the future.”
“Young people are marching in the streets and our Runanga and Fono support their mana and dedication, but we’re also worried about our low-paid workers at the coal face – so to speak – who won’t always have a decent plan in place for their future in a carbon-neutral world.”
“Automation is also a major threat that will overwhelmingly affect Māori and Pasifika workers, who are often in low-paid positions that may be disestablished by companies who have an overwhelming focus on profit and very little on ensuring workers have a safety net for the day automation becomes cheaper than human labour.”
FIRST Union’s Hui Fono is taking place in Ngongotaha between October 1-3rd, and union delegates from around the country are meeting to discuss industrial issues affecting Māori and Pasifika workers. FIRST Union represents workers in diverse industries that may be affected by climate change and automation such as energy workers, call centre workers, transport workers and other customer service workers affected by the increasing digitisation of many front-facing roles.
Among FIRST Union’s key suggestions for a Just Transition and a post-automation future are compulsory redundancy compensation and significantly increased Government investment in industry strategies that promote local and sustainable jobs.
“These aren’t problems caused by workers, but they’re the ones who deal with the effects,” said Terry Tuiletufuga, FIRST Union delegate and Fono convener. “The onus should be on employers and Government to prepare as a country and work in solidarity with each other.”
“Our discussions here at the hui have been fruitful, and it reminds us that workers have valuable expertise to lend to any Just Transition process or wider conversation about the future of work.”