New law first step to regulate rogue labour-hire industry.
A Bill giving rights to labour-hire workers, that has passed through first reading in parliament tonight, is a long overdue step to regulating the industry says a union representing over 2,500 labour-hire workers.
The Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill was passed through first reading with support from Labour, The Greens and New Zealand First.
Lisa Fox, spokesperson for the Labour-hire Workers Network, says the industry is running amok and is a good example where self-regulation has not worked.
“Labour-hire firms have been operating outside the law for too long in New Zealand” said Fox. “The efforts by the industry to self-regulate have had no impact on the exploitation of labour-hire workers.”
Fox described certification programmes setup by the industry as “lip-service” that did not address the core problems.
“The majority of companies selling or using labour-hire do not follow fair processes for dismissing workers. This makes it near impossible for labour-hire workers to enforce any other rights they should have under law” said Fox. “We have employment contracts from dozens of major labour-hire firms and almost all of them have clauses that state people can be dismissed without notice or reasons being given.”
One worker, who performed work for a prominent labour-hire company certified by the StaffSure programme run by RCSA (the body representing labour-hire firms) said she had none of the rights ordinary employees have under the law. She was employed through a labour hire firm as a “temporary” worker for over three years despite working in the same work-place, doing the same hours on the same shift pattern.
“My contract said that at any time I could have my assignment ended without notice or reason” said the worker. “I was too scared to join a union or ask for other entitlements I was owed because if I did I could lose my job and my income instantly. All the labour-hire staff I worked with were too scared to speak up.”
The bill, if passed into law, will ensure thousands of labour-hire workers in New Zealand, can’t be paid less terms and conditions than those they are working alongside, in like for like positions and give the worker the right to take personal grievances against their host employer.
Fox said the issues around labour-hire are far more widespread than just ‘rogue’ labour-hire companies within the industry. “What we see is the same types of contracts and practises used across the industry. It is the industry that is rogue, not a few small players”.
The Labour-hire Workers Network is advocating for the Bill to be strengthened by including a requirement that labour-hire firms provide in writing the start and end dates of each work assignment.