• Posted on: 1/02/2023
  • 2 minutes to read


on behalf of E tū, PSA, and AWUNZ

Workers need Three Waters to succeed

Unions representing workers in the water industry are urging new Minister of Local Government, Kieran McAnulty, to stay the course on the Government’s Three Waters reforms.

E tū, The Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (PSA), and the Amalgamated Workers Union NZ (AWUNZ) represent workers across water management, including technicians, engineers, administrators, fitters, labourers, local and central government officials, and more.

The unions are united in their support for the Three Waters programme and have engaged constructively throughout the whole process to ensure that the reforms are better for everyone, including affected workers.

E tū Director, Mat Danaher, says it’s important we stick to the course.

"The work going on to finally fix Aotearoa’s water is both necessary and promising," Mat says.

"We know there are water problems to fix across the whole country. The tragic weather events in Auckland last weekend are a poignant reminder that storm water infrastructure is incredibly important to get right.

"We also regularly see burst sewerage pipes, boiled water notices, and many other examples of water infrastructure deficits. The case for change is so clear, and we strongly support the Government continuing the reforms.

AWUNZ Lead Organiser, Blake Monkley, agrees.

"In the face of the challenges we face in this space, there can no longer be any doubt that well-functioning storm and wastewater will be as much a life and death issue as safe drinking water was in Havelock North only a few years ago," Blake says.

"We again call on all parties to support these reforms through to a logical conclusion and will work with all parties of goodwill towards that end."

Mat says that the new Minister has an opportunity to make improvements to the reform programme, but any changes should not undermine the wider objective.

"It’s fair to expect Minister McAnulty to rethink elements of Three Waters to ensure we remain on the right track. But we certainly must not go back to square one.

"Over the last couple of years workers in the sector have faced a huge amount of uncertainty about what the future of their work will look like. Undoing the progress made so far would only add to that uncertainty."

PSA national sector lead Ian Gordon says that a big part of the new Minister’s role will be explaining the importance of the Three Waters reform to the public.

"Too much of the Three Waters debate has been driven by a small but loud minority who choose to ignore the important purpose of the reforms. These reforms are about all New Zealanders having access to safe water. For the programme to succeed, it’s vital the public understanding of Three Waters improves.

"We urge the Government to recommit to really explaining the huge importance of these reforms, so we can get on with making water better for everyone."