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Sweat shops need inspectors

2000 web siteThe Labour Department inspectorate would be beefed up by an incoming Labour-led Government so that backyard sweatshops such as the one discovered in Otahuhu can be dealt with immediately.

Labour's spokesperson on industrial relations, Pete Hodgson, said that the really worrying thing about the Otahuhu sweatshop, employing five Chinese women, was that it was discovered by a union official not a labour inspector.

"Labour inspectors are now so thin on the ground that they are just about an endangered species. They do virtually no proactive work and do not even have time to respond to all complaints. The result is inadequate wages, lighting, seating and ventilation.

"An inoming Labour government is determined to nip these practices in the bud. Undignified conditions such as those discovered in sweatshops cannot be tolerated. They haven't been seen in this country for decades.

"Replacing the Employment Contracts Act will be a start and a legal minimum code of wages and conditions will help too. Both will occur under Labour. But for some employers, rapid enforcement is the only thing they understand and to achieve that we need a well staffed inspectorate."

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