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Zero-hours contracts changes make the problem worse - SFWU

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) is extremely disappointed with the zero-hours contracts changes announced today.

Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Woodhouse announced new policy today, which was presented as an attempt to fix the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts.

However the new policy does not ban zero-hours contracts, it merely means that zero-hours contracts have to be agreed to by both parties.

SFWU national secretary John Ryall said that the changes are a move in the wrong direction. Rather than protecting workers, the new policy will make it harder to challenge zero-hours contracts.

"They’re essentially making zero-hours lawful," Mr Ryall said. "They’re planning to enshrine in law the employers ability to guarantee no hours if agreed to at the beginning of employment."

"Workers often have very little power at the beginning of employment. They will either have to accept a zero-hours contract or look for work elsewhere. It’s unfair, and it’s employment law moving backwards," he said.

Mr Ryall said that the other proposed changes were very confusing and created exploitable loopholes.

"Employers will be required to give ‘reasonable’ notice or compensation when a shift is cancelled or cut short. But exactly what is ‘reasonable’ won’t be defined, opening this up for abuse.

"Employers will still be able to restrict secondary employment if they believe there is a genuine reason to do so, and again these terms will not be defined in law.

"Instead of all these confusing and vague provisions, the government should come out and ban zero-hours contracts. That’s what the workers want, that’s what would be fair."

Mr Ryall said that these changes were particularly insulting when the Minister had earlier expressed some enthusiasm for cleaning up the exploitative use of zero-hours contracts.

"The government is making working life harder for New Zealanders yet again."

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