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Regulator says Chorus changes are a chance to lead

Employment Services General Manager George Mason says it is appropriate that Chorus are taking a leadership role in addressing the worker exploitation issues found in their supply chain, and is calling for other large companies to do the same.

The Labour Inspectorate is currently taking a large number of compliance actions against Chorus subcontractors who breached a range of minimum employment standards throughout the broadband cabling rollout – mainly in Auckland.

A Chorus response to its independent review on this last week promised a raft of improvements to its contractor model, including implementing a supplier code of practice, minimum requirements across the supply chain, auditing, and improved awareness of its migrant workforce.

“Chorus has now mapped its supply chain, identified those suppliers with an increased level of labour standards compliance risk, and ensured action is taken to fully review and resolve actual issues as they are uncovered. This is an important move and one that we encourage all larger companies or anybody with a contractor supply chain to also initiate,” says Employment Services General Manager, George Mason.

“Businesses need to ensure that they get this right. The lessons from the Chorus report are relevant to all businesses with subcontracted supply chains. I encourage the directors and chief executives from all large enterprises to read the report and ask the hard questions in their organisations. Don’t wait for the Labour Inspectorate to turn up,” he says.

As migrant employees remain one of the most vulnerable worker groups in New Zealand, the inclusion by Chorus of a whistle blower process, a staff welfare portal available in multiple languages and migrant exploitation awareness training are also welcomed by Employment Services.

“More than half of all investigations made by the Labour Inspectorate involve migrant workers, so initiatives like this start to address the pressures and risks that exist for migrant workers.

“But we will be watching closely to see that Chorus adheres to its own recommendations. This is a chance for them to set the scene and lead by example.”

Employment Services has guidance for both employers and employees on employment rights and obligations. Anyone who has information about minimum standards not being met, are advised to phone 0800 20 90 20, where all concerns will be handled in a safe environment.

The Chorus internal review and response can be found here.

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