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Zero Hour Myths exposed by Fast Food worker survey

22 Feb

10991395 10155175547945006 3819573757507372076 nA major survey of fast food workers in New Zealand has

exposed the reality of “Zero Hour Contracts” for workers and some of the myths used to justify them.

Over a thousand fast food union members working for the major brands in New Zealand responded to Unite Union’s online survey, with nearly 700 giving detailed information on their working hours over the previous four weeks. That is the biggest response Unite Union has ever had to a member survey.

“Unfortunately it confirms in detail what we already knew from our worksite visits” said Unite Union National Secretary Gerard Hehir.

“Most fast food workers are willing and able to work more hours on a regular basis but are simply not given the opportunity. Over half who took part actually want an increase to 35 hours or more a week. We know hours become available on regular basis as other staff leave, but the companies choose to employ new staff and allocate hours week to week rather than offer any security of income.”

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SEVEN “ZERO HOUR” MYTHS VS REALITY

22 Feb

Some employers and politicians are trying to defend “zero hours” contracts as in the workers’ interest and trying to shift the focus away from the core problem of not having 

Results from Unite Union’s survey of fast food workers shows how far these ‘myths” are form reality:

Myth 1: Zero Hours Contracts give workers the flexibility they want.

Many fast food workers do want part-time work (although many who are part- time want to be full time – half of all workers wanted additional hours that would take them to 35 hours a week or more). There is a huge difference between regular part-time work with regular hours and a zero hours contract where you only find out your weekly hours and shifts a few days before they start. Fast food companies like the flexibility of zero hours contracts – their workers do not.

79% in the survey said that changes to their weekly hours causes them problems with paying basic living costs like rent, power, phone, food and transport. 42% said these problems happen on a regular basis. The comments on the difficulties roster changes caused were numerous and disturbing:

“If my hours drop anymore I won’t be able to feed my family.”

“It has severely affected my credit rating, I was referred to the nz budgeting service, due to my hours getting cut my bills suffered, I received over $4000 in police fines as I couldn’t afford to reg and wof my car due to change in my hours/income. My children lived off noodles and eggs for their main meal approx 4 times a week. Last but not least, I had to resort to criminal activity to ensure my children had lunch for school and warm clothes/shoes during the winter. Desperate times called for desperate measures :/

“Most the time i have to put off a different bill each week to be able to pay rent or buy food there has been a few times and a whole month where I
haven’t been able to buy any food at all because my hours were cut down. I use to be on 45 a week now I’m lucky to get 25.”

“One staff member with 2 children under three has had her hours almost halved in about 5 weeks and management just argue the point and don’t listen”

Myth 2: Zero Hour contracts are jobs where you can’t work for someone else and you have to wait by the phone ready to work at a moments notice.

Those are just one type of these contracts. In fact a “zero hours contract” is just what it says: an employment agreement where there are no guaranteed hours, regardless of whether you are told your hours week by week or day by day. Apart from a few salaried managers, all fast food workers are on zero hours contracts, along with tens of thousands of other workers in the hospitality and retail sectors. Our survey showed that fast food workers worked an average of 25.5 weekly rostered hours, but that they also worked an average of 3.2 additional hours at short notice.

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SkyCity boss misleads public over workers lost shifts

24 Oct

SkyCity CEO Nigel Morrison “not telling the truth”.

By Mike Treen (Unite National Director) and John Crocker (Unite SkyCity Organiser)

SkyCity CEO Nigel Morrison has defended the employment practices at his company in an “Opinion” piece entitled “Human Capital key to corporate success” in the NZ Herald on Thursday.

A number of his claims are misleading, contain only partial truths or are exaggerations. In one important respect when discussing a SkyCity worker what he says is simply untrue.

To pride oneself on being a non-minimum wage employer when the start rate for many positions in the employment agreement is only 10 cents above the minimum wage is a partial truth at best. Apprentice chefs are also paid less than the minimum wage so to say “all” SkyCity employees are paid above is not accurate.

To boast about the training staff receive when the company deliberately changed its policy in order to stop paying trainee table game dealers during their training is a bit misleading. Now when SkyCity takes employees from WINZ, the taxpayer is paying a benefit to the worker during unpaid staff training.  They then subsidise their wages for a period if subsequently employed.

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Mike Treen – “We can change this government.”

18 Sep

National Unite Director Mike Treen lays out the choices for workers in Aotearoa as we prepare for the election on Saturday. Share hard! https://unitenews.wordpress.com/about/

Hotel chain agrees to guaranteed hours of work

17 Sep

Unite Union members at an Accor hotel getting ready to vote in this week’s election

Guaranteed hours of work is the single most important issue facing Unite members employed in the service sector. Unite has been working hard and investing a lot of time to try and get more secure hours for workers in all the industries that we represent workers in. Unite is pleased to inform members that we have made a breakthrough around securing minimum hours of work for hotel workers this month.

In the past hotel workers enjoyed full time employment. However, in recent years there has been a major shift towards part-time and casual work in the industry.This has been of significant concern to our members as even if a reasonable pay increase is secured it does not go far where there is no certainty of being rostered work for the week.

Accor (NZ largest hotel company) has made a significant move for the hotel industry by offering to guarantee most employees a minimum 25 hours work per week after one years service. Unite welcomes this change which is a major shift in the hotel industry from no guarantee to providing their employees with minimum hours per week.

Hotels Organiser Shanna Reeder says “This guarantee of hours will allow these workers to give banks some assurance of their financial stability when applying for a car loan or a credit card, and landlords may feel more comfortable taking these workers on as tenants. These simple things that most people take for granted are hard to get for a worker who has no guarantee of work from week to week.”

Research done by Accor showed that most union members were already working an average of 25 hours per week and they were prepared to acknowledge this step to offer certainty to employees.

SkyCity workers first to vote in the 2014 election

5 Sep

Workers in Central Auckland march to early vote when the polls open. Unite Union and the SFWU are encouraging our members to vote to change the government.

The current National Government has tried to attack unions and workers entitlements, while most opposition parties have promised to increase the minimum wage by $2 an hour in their first year in government.

Workers met outside Skycity and marched down to Liston House in Hobson Street to be the first workers to vote en masse.

Authorised by Michael Treen,
6a Western Springs Road, Morningside.

Putting an end to zero-hour contracts in 2015

25 Aug

By Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union

All around the world attention is being drawn to what have been dubbed in the UK “zero-hour contracts”. These are contracts that don’t have any guaranteed hours even though the worker may be regularly employed.

Unite Union has been struggling with exactly this problem since we started organising in sectors that had lost union protection during the 1990s.

What we discovered was that large sectors of the working class in this country had no guaranteed hours of work. This applied to fast food restaurants, security, cinemas, call centres and hotels. This doesn’t just apply to completely casualised sectors. The SkyCity Casino in Auckland is a 24-7 business with over 3000 staff. It knows pretty exactly how many customers it will have on any particular day of the week. It has every ability to have most workers on full-time contracts. Instead it keeps two out of three workers on part time contracts with only 8 hours of work guaranteed each week.

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