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NZ Labour Letter March 2015

11 Mar

The online publication of the New Zealand Labour Letter is provided as a service to Labour by AIL of New Zealand Ltd.

National Labour News

More employment cases will be litigated following a landmark Employment Court ruling that paves the way for tens of thousands of home care relief workers to receive the minimum wage and holidays, New Zealand unions predicted. Service and Food Workers Union took the winning case to court and national secretary, John Ryall said litigation to secure workers’ rights was now preferable to collective bargaining. "We decided there’s got to be a better way than (collective bargaining), said Ryall which he described as hopeless. "Every time we win one of these cases, someone stands up, and we discover a new detail of discrimination. I think these cases will continue, until such time as there is a collective bargaining system in place." CTU’s Helen Kelly agreed with the tactic of strategic litigation. "We have to rely on the minimum code – Minimum Wage, Holidays Act, Equal Pay Act – to get any sort of justice. This [latest ruling] is one of a series of cases, and we’ve got more planned," she said.

New employment laws that went into effect March 6 will leave workers worse off, warned union leaders. They said provisions of the controversial Employment Relations Amendment Act, which affects collective bargaining, will increase the opportunity for exploitation of workers. Among other changes, strict rules over breaks are eliminated and employers and workers can agree on the timing or duration of breaks and receive compensation for not taking a break. "This Government should be ashamed of itself. They do not care about New Zealand workers and they are determined to drive wages down in this country and removing their tea break and their lunch break is an absolute attack on every working person in this country," said CTU’s Helen Kelly. The legislation also removes the requirement for new staff to be employed under the collective agreement for the first 30 days and allows employers to walk away from collective bargaining. Others unions such as the NZ Nurses Organisation expressed similar concerns.

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Fast food workers of the world unite

10 Mar

International video features Unite Union and NZ Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway

Helen Kelly: Zero hour exploitation

9 Mar

The wellbeing of families is threatened when workers feel insecure, writes CTU president Helen Kelly.

Fast food workers are being exposed to more "insecure" agreements.

We have seen such public concern about the types of arrangements being used to exploit Kiwi workers lately.

Deductions from wages for runners at petrol stations and restaurants; zero hour contracts; breaches of minimum wage laws on farms and in hospitality; serious recurring accidents in industries such as forestry and farming; severe exploitation of our migrant workforce; and below living wages in important industries like aged care.

Is this the new normal?

All of these issues – hours, wages, deductions, and safety – would be regulated by collective bargaining, as they are in countries which recognise the importance of work to society and families. In countries such as Denmark – with high productivity and wages – collective bargaining is the mechanism that brings parties together to regulate labour practices, ensuring all sides to the bargain get a fair benefit.

This country has one of the most deregulated labour markets in the OECD and has some of the lowest collective bargaining coverage. The results are that competition between businesses can be won by exploiting the labour force, at a huge cost to us all. It seems likely this will only continue.

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Protest against bosses treaty Sat March 7

6 Mar

Message of Nationwide Day of Action on 7 March: ‘TPPA? No Deal!’

“An amazing 22 towns and cities across New Zealand have rallied to the call for a nationwide day of action against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) on 7 March”, according to Chantelle Campbell who is coordinating the national events for the ItsOurFuture network.

“We’ve got all the major cities on board again, as well as towns like Whitianga, Hokitika and Taumarunui.[i] This is five more places than the massive turnout we had in November last year, where more than 10,000 Kiwis protested against the TPPA in 17 parts of New Zealand.”

Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand Rachel Le Mesurier explained why they are co-sponsoring the day: “Oxfam New Zealand remains deeply concerned about the potential impacts of the TPPA, not least of all because of the precedent it could set for future trade agreements in the Pacific region.”

“Just this week the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Mr Anand Grover, spoke out about the health impacts of these agreements.”

Trade unions are also strongly supporting the call to action. National Secretary of the EPMU Bill Newson said his union is concerned about “the potential to compromise New Zealand economic and commercial sovereignty, effectiveness of our labour market and employment laws and the secretive nature of the draft agreement contents.”

For Murray Horton from the Campaign Against Foreign Control (CAFCA), who are also sponsoring the day, the TPPA “is a modern version of the aborted 1990s’ Multilateral Agreement on Investment. The MAI was defeated by a global campaign, including in NZ, which saw it for what it was – an attempt to formalise the privatisation and corporatisation of global governance. What is stake here is national sovereignty, and there is no more important subject.”

“Would the TPPA be OK if it wasn’t secret? Short answer: no. The secrecy under which it is being negotiated simply adds insult to injury”.

The details of times and places for events in each town are and facebook ….

Rachael Le Mesurier, Oxfam, 021741605

Ged O’Connell, Assistant National Secretary EPMU 0275328152

Murray Horton, CAFCA, (03) 3663988/ 0274 307742

Chantelle Campbell, ItsOurFuture, 0226027078

TV3: End Zero Hours protest Feb 14

16 Feb


Strike at Wendy’s Palmerston North today

13 Feb

Wendy’s workers Palmerston North strike today over not receiving their days in lieu and not receiving all of their entitled breaks. With solidarity from Dion First Union and Roger Middlemass Meat Workers Union and Unions Manawatu

Secure hours at Jet Park

5 Feb

A second employer in the hotel industry has agreed to a secure hours clause with Unite Union.

Jet Park Hotel, a family owned business near Auckand Airport has guaranteed all Part-time workers a minimum of three shifts per week.

Unite Union Hotels Organiser Shanna Reeder said "Our union members have been crying out for more secure hours this year as the industry is one of many in New Zealand has moved towards zero hours contracts in the past few years. This is a real victory for the union members at this hotel and shows that it can be done. We applaud the hotel for providing these workers with more security."

There were other gains made during the Collective Employment Agreement such as a 2.8% payrise for all union members and the developments of an on-call rostering system whereby workers will not be obliged to come in on their days off unless they want to, however the union see the minimum shifts as the biggest win as so far only one other hotel employer (Accor) had agreed to a security of hours clause.

Unite Union will spend 2015 fighting against zero-hours contracts in the other hotels they organise, as well as Fast Food restaurants.

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