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Minister to zero-hour employers: Rethink your rosters

3 Mar

By Anna Burns-Francis

Reporter

Hardworking Kiwis keeping our fast-food and hospitality industries afloat are technically employed, but they’re not guaranteed any work.

They’re hired on zero-hour contracts, and for the second week in a row, Mohammad Ismail’s been given zero hours’ work at Burger King.

“It’s rubbish,” says Mr Ismail. “I only get $14.25 per hour – you can’t survive on it. No one would like to work for just two hours.”

So what does the Employment Minister Michael Woodhouse think of the contract?

“Of course we can legislate for all the rules, but can’t legislate for good employer practice,” says Mr Woodhouse. “I think this is bad for organisation as well – it must take an enormous amount of time, effort and cost.”

So would the minister work on a zero-hour contract?

“I have worked on casual as a student and on my return from an OE – they’re an important part of the workplace,” says Mr Woodhouse.

But casual contracts are not zero-hour contracts, which tie workers like Mr Ismail into full-time availability. When Mr Ismail doesn’t get offered a shift, he doesn’t work, and he doesn’t get paid.

“It’s really hard. You have to borrow money and get loans off people, and sometimes I don’t eat.”

Mr Woodhouse’s solution is to take some help from the Government, if you can get it.

“It might be possible that Mohammad has Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) opportunities available to him, but obviously everybody’s situation is different,” says Mr Woodhouse. “But it may be possible that he get support that way.”

He says he encourages employers to rethink their rostering practices.

There’s a stand-down period for WINZ assistance, so that wouldn’t really help employees like Mr Ismail.

Mr Woodhouse’s other solution for Mr Ismail is to get a new job.

“We have a growing job market, and I’m sure people like Mohammad will be able to take advantage of that,” says Mr Woodhouse.

If only it was that easy.

“People say it’s easy to find a job,” says Ms Ismail. “It’s not easy, it’s hard, but the rest of the company will [continue] to do the same thing, so we need to stop this.”

Mr Woodhouse says that there will be changes to employment law this year and is “quite happy to introduce legislation into the House in the middle of the year that would prohibit the worst excesses of the [zero-hours] practices that we find”.

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Watch the video for the full report from Anna Burns-Francis.

Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/campbelllive/minister-to-zero-hour-employers-rethink-your-rosters-2015030318#ixzz3TJ9zLSZ6

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Kiwis tied to zero-hour contracts speak out

3 Mar

More employees on zero-hour contracts have contacted Campbell Live complaining of how their employers can’t even promise them half a shift.

Employers say the contracts allow them flexibility, but for the employee it means turning up for a shift, even if that shift is only an hour long.

As the union gets into negotiations this week with fast food companies, Campbell Live wanted to ask how many employees are on zero-hour contracts, and how does that number impact on New Zealand’s low unemployment rate?

Watch the video for the full report from Anna Burns-Francis.Video- Kiwis tied to Zero Hour Contracts

KFC Screenshot

Minimum wage increase useless without end to zero hours

25 Feb

Unite Union has welcomed the 50 cent an hour increase in the minimum wage but says that no matter what level the minimum wage reached it is of little benefit unless it is combined with an end to zero hour contracts.

Unite is calling on the government to set a target to have the minimum wage progressively increased from its current level of about 50% of the average wage to two-thirds of the average – which was the standard in New Zealand in the past.

The entire benefit of a pay rise can be lost for someone on around 20 hours a week if they lose only one hour’s pay. We will be taking a claim for guaranteed hours to be the norm in the negotiations this year with fast food companies and others who have most staff working under what have been dubbed zero-hour contracts because they have no guaranteed minimum number of hours.

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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Wendy’s accused of illegaly intimidating workers to stop striking

18 Feb

Wendy’s workers first strike at Hornby, Christchurch, on February 18, 2015

Unite Union has accused the Wendy’s corporation of intimidating workers to stop striking. Workers have been pulled aside by managers to caution them against striking "or there would be consequences for their future at Wendy’s". One union delegate was called into a meeting with the company CEO Danielle Lendich and told not to join the strikes.

Ironically today has been designated a global day of action in defence of the right to strike by the International Trade Union Confederation.

Unite action at Wendy’s is part of the union campaign against zero hour contracts in the industry. The company has written to staff and the public to say that all staff get hours each week but what they don’t say is that most staff have zero hours guaranteed. The only group of workers with guaranteed hours at Wendy’s are those with two years service and "open availability" over six or seven days in the week.

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International action supports Unite’s campaign against zero hour contracts

16 Feb

Workers in Indonesia and the Philippines took action to support the New Zealand fast food workers in their campaign against zero hour contracts by holding solidarity pickets outs9ide local McDonald’s store in both countries. Messages of support were also received from Kong Kong and Korean union activists involved in the international campaign to win union rights in the fast food industry.

PHILIPPINES

VALENTINE’S Day was celebrated today by youth members of the Alliance of Progressive Labor by picketing a bustling McDonald’s outlet in Quezon City as part of the Philippine leg of the international campaign against “zero hour” work contracts.

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