26 April 2013
Mean-minded Labour law changes will increase poverty and inequality
“The Government’s proposed changes to labour laws are mean-minded and will increase poverty and inequality in New Zealand,” said John Ryall, National Secretary of the Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota today.
“There is nothing in these proposed employment law changes that will lift wages or create any living wage jobs. The proposed changes are designed to weaken what few rights workers have left to negotiate collectively and protect their jobs.”
The Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota represents 22,000 of the lowest paid workers in New Zealand who are cleaners, caregivers, security guards and food workers.
“Our members already struggle with the scant protections they have now,” said John Ryall. “The changes are a mean attack on workers’ rights to collectively bargain. Our experience tells us that if the law supports employers to walk away from collective negotiations if they can’t screw down the cheapest deal, they will do so.”
John Ryall said SFWU was particularly angered at the Government proposal to dump the protections for the country’s most vulnerable workers when their contractors change. Currently Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act requires employers to retain vulnerable workers, such as cleaners, when contracts change.
“The current protections are strongly supported not only by unions, but also by the industry,” said John Ryall. “The proposed changes to Part 6A will remove any fairness from the cut-throat world of contracting and will condemn vulnerable workers to even more insecurity at work. They will open up the world of contracting to unscrupulous cowboy operators, paying the lowest possible rates.”
John Ryall said there was growing concern in New Zealand about poverty and inequality.
“These proposals will add to that concern and with good reason,” he said.