web analytics

Govt set to deny low-paid workers basic rights

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, March 4th, 2009 - 24 comments
Categories: national/act government, wages, workers' rights - Tags: ,

The National government couldn’t hold off democracy forever, so today we are graced with the first members’ day of the new term.

And if we had a pro-worker majority in the House, today would be day of celebration. Labour MP Darien Fenton’s Minimum Wage and Remuneration Bill is up, which would go towards ensuring all Kiwis are at least entitled to a basic minimum wage.

In a nutshell, the bill would make sure vulnerable workers can’t be exploited by employers and paid below minimum wage by classing them as ‘contractors’. And, according to Fenton’s press release, it would also pave the way towards a $15 minimum wage.

Unfortunately the bill looks set to be defeated at the committee stage by a National government that doesn’t care if mums and dads lose their jobs in the recession and are forced to contract themselves out at $4 an hour to make a living.

But then, National’s concern for workers was never more than rhetoric anyway.

24 comments on “Govt set to deny low-paid workers basic rights ”

  1. gingercrush 1

    Blah answer. But of course, Labour could have enacted such changes before the end of their third term. But of course, the issue around the minimum wage became relevant only during election time last year. And indeed, had they Labour got back in.The only wage increase this year would have been from $12.00 to $12.66. Just 16 cents more than National.

    While Labour certainly increased the minimum wage more than National ever did. Surely one of the biggest disappointments from those on the left is that Labour had nine years in office and yet workers were never that better off.

    (Yes I know this is a members bill, but I don’t actually believe for a minute this is Fenton’s doing. But rather action being taken by the Labour party as a whole).

  2. Graeme 2

    If this bill is that important to Labour, why didn’t the Government adopt it and pass it prior to the election – as they did with other member’s bills?

    • Ianmac 2.1

      And I think that Labour saw that the Min Wages had to be developed slowly to prevent distortions. Now the intent seems to be to slow the process if not bypass Min Wage altogether: hence contract wages.

  3. vinsin 3

    Hmm, well workers’ didn’t have a 90 day fire at will bill hanging over their heads – that’s just off the top of my head and i’m sure there are many more examples of workers being better off under Labour.

    • gingercrush 3.1

      Well I would think vinsin. That regardless of your opinion on the 90 day bill. That it isn’t the same as issues concerning the minimum wage? But please do list me what wonderful things Labour did for workers compared to National. Because outside of the typical ideological issues around Unions, there isn’t much.

      • Felix 3.1.1

        gc:

        Fullstops go at the end of a frickin sentence. Sort it out.

      • vinsin 3.1.2

        Ok, Labour raised the minimum wage from $7.00 to $12.00, twenty hours of free childcare, paid paternal leave and they also raised the average wage from around $18.00 to around $24.00 per hour. They also put into place numerous training programs for those unfortunate enough to be on the dole.

        Want more?

        • Matthew Pilott 3.1.2.1

          Vinsin – add four weeks of annual leave, legal minimum break requirements (since they were not enshrined in law although virtually there due to union collective negotiating) and breastfeeding at work legislation.

          Maybe they’re taken for granted, GC, but that doesn’t mean Labour didn’t make them happen.

  4. vto 4

    So let me get this right… If a contractor on a job fails to make the equivalent of $12.50 per hour (min wage) then that contractor is entitled to go back and receive that min wage?

    Lordy that will have some massive impact on contracting right througout the economy.

    Sounds good for the contractor in many ways but one effect will be loading a certain level of risk in contracting to the contracting party (whereas it now sits with the contractor). This will, as always, result in costs of things rising to accommodate that extra risk. But I guess conversely, lowering the cost of the contractor as the contractor’s risk is lessened.

    Then there will be the issue of establishing whether min wage has been achieved, not to mention the cost and risk of recovery.

  5. Graeme, I expected that angle from the weakminded righties but not you. Just because Labour didn’t get around to it (or perhaps wrongly had other priorities) doesn’t mean it’s not a good law. We can play ‘well, you should’ve done X ages ago’ games forever but the only question that matters now is whether the Bill that is before the house now ought to be passed or not.

    • Graeme 5.1

      I wasn’t saying it was poor law. I think it is good law. The bit about raising the minimum wage to $15 is more arguable, but the contractor bit – particularly where circumscribed as now proposed – is eminently sensible.

      I’m not saying this shouldn’t be passed, I’m taking issue your conclusion that it is “National’s concern for workers was never more than rhetoric anyway” when that charge could perhaps be leveled at Labour as well (if for different reasons).

      Labour knew they had a good chance of not forming the next government, and knew that National had opposed this bill. Instead of passing this law in their last days, they chose to pass/get through first reading a bunch of other pieces of law, seemingly having performed the calculus that if they lost, it would be better to have something to show people that National didn’t care about workers, than to actually do something to stop it.

      Labour asked the question: which is more important to us, ensuring that contractors get paid a fair wage, or scoring a political point over National? They chose the latter and if this doesn’t become law it is on both their houses.

      • Darien Fenton 5.1.1

        Graeme

        To clarify : The Labour government would have made my bill a priority if we had the numbers. We only had the support of the Maori Party and the Greens and Taito Phillip Field. Taito pulled his support for the bill around seven months before the election. Therefore, the numbers were not there.

        I am glad you think it is worth doing – and actually, it is all my work. I put the bill in the ballot in 2005, it had its first reading in 2006, the Select Committee reported back in September 2007 and it had its second reading in May 2008.

        So this isn’t about political point scoring – it’s a last ditch attempt to get fairness for low paid contract workers – and it is an issue I feel very strongly about. However, National have confirmed they will not be supporting it.

        Darien Fenton

        • Graeme 5.1.1.1

          Darien – thank you for that information. I was very surprised at the time that Labour wasn’t adopting the bill – the numbers were close, but I figured you’d have has enough to pass it. I came up with an explanation, but you’ve just provided the simpler one (that therefore makes more sense).

  6. Julie 6

    Thanks for writing about this Eddie, Idiot/Savant has as well and I wrote about Fenton’s member’s bill before the SOP was added. It will be a very interesting test of National indeed – are they as purple as they claim? Or are they all yellow on the inside, like a passionfruit?

  7. Billy 7

    Why is this law necessary? As I understand the law, it doesn’t matter what your agreement says, if the real nature of the relationship is one of employer and employee then that’s what it’ll be.

    If a worker is truly vulnerable it is hard to see how he or she could be in a position where it could be said that the relationship was not really an employment relationship.

    • triangular work arrangements.

      Increasingly labour hire companies will only take on people as ‘contractors’, the labourer has no choice in the matter. Labour hire companies do this because it gives them (and the ultimate employer) the ability to circumvent the minimum wage and to take on staff then get rid of them instantly.

      I think there’s some confusion because the term contractor is misunderstood (or, rather, it covers very different groups of workers) we’re not talking about builders and consultants here.

      • Billy 7.1.1

        Yeah but a joe turning up to hire his labour out must fall on the employee side of the control and integration tests and the fundamental test. Fucked if I know what you’re worried about.

        It’s like terrorist specific legislation: unnecessary. We already have perfectly workable legislation. Just use it.

        • Steve Pierson 7.1.1.1

          bro. I’m talking from personal experience. read about it here: http://www.thestandard.org.nz/on-the-distribution-of-income/

          I’m sure many of the other commentors have similiar stories.

          you don’t really think a person with little work experience (ie George, below) or someone with no skills, or someone just desperate to work is really in a position to complain that they should be employed properly, not as a contractor?

          • Billy 7.1.1.1.1

            Damn this reply function and its time meddling.

            You have legislation which addresses the problem. If you are saying that the legislation doesn’t work because of a power imbalance then more legislation is hardly going to fix that problem, is it? ‘Cause, you know, it’ll suffer from the same limitation.

    • George Darroch 7.2

      Because that isn’t how it is in many cases. For example, I was employed by Pizza Hut as a contractor (delivery driver) at 17, when the relationship bore little resemblance to what we normally think of as contracting. They also got out of most of the things they would have to provide as an employer, and on a bad night I earned next to nothing. Since I didn’t need the money it wasn’t terrible, but if I was dependent on it I think I’d have a different opinion.

  8. Billy 8

    http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/cases/james-bryson-v-three-foot-six-limited/

    Follow the link and read the case.

    George, when were you 17? Some time ago I am guessing. One of the explicit goals of Margaret Wilson’s 2000 Act was to address this. Surely you guys aren’t suggesting she’s incompetent.

  9. Matt Holland 9

    @Billy
    “It’s like terrorist specific legislation: unnecessary. We already have perfectly workable legislation. Just use it.”
    and
    “You have legislation which addresses the problem. If you are saying that the legislation doesn’t work because of a power imbalance then more legislation is hardly going to fix that problem, is it?”

    For a minute there I thought you were referring to the fire at will bill…. Silly me.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Govt congratulates Lisa Carrington on becoming NZ’s most decorated Olympian
    Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson has today congratulated New Zealand Olympic kayaker Lisa Carrington on her exceptional performance at the Tokyo Olympics which has led to her becoming the most decorated New Zealand Olympian. “Lisa is a phenomenal athlete. To win the K1 200m three Olympics in a row, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Construction sector transformation continues with Network launch
    Housing Minister Hon Dr Megan Woods and Building and Construction Minister Hon Poto Williams today launched the Construction Sector Accord Network. Designed to bring the sector together to lift performance and drive change, the Network is a collective of businesses, government agencies and other organisations committed to a higher performing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • The ‘Tulī Takes Flight’ scholarships announced
    The Associate Minister of Education, Aupito William Sio, has today announced the establishment of the ‘Tulī Takes Flight’ scholarships as part of the goodwill gesture of reconciliation to accompany the Government’s apology to Pacific families and communities impacted by the Dawn Raids. “Education is the key to unlocking success, opportunity, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • 8,000 additional public housing places delivered in major Government milestone 
    New Zealanders now have an extra 8,000 warm, dry public housing places to call home, under a Government public housing programme that is full steam ahead, says Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. “Of the 74,337 households now being supported in public housing places, more than six thousand (6,503) are living in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • New classrooms and building improvements for central and lower North Island schools
    Six schools across Wellington, Manawatū-Whanganui and Taranaki are getting a funding boost so projects can enter construction and deliver much needed works sooner, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. While visiting Cannons Creek School in Porirua, Chris Hipkins also announced 10 schools in the central and lower North Island that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • Restoring the richness of the Rangitata river
    A major Jobs for Nature project to protect and enhance some of the South Island’s most unique habitats and restore the health of the Rangitata River highlights the important role farmers have in caring for the land, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “Canterbury’s braided rivers are an iconic part of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • Foreign Minister to take part in ASEAN-related meetings
    Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta will today begin a suite of meetings with her ASEAN and East Asia Summit counterparts, starting with the 11th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting tonight. That will be followed by the ASEAN-New Zealand Ministerial Meeting on Thursday 5 August and the 28th ASEAN Regional ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Arts and heritage venues get helping hand
    A new round of funding to support capital projects will help keep our arts and heritage sector alive and vibrant, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan announced today.  “Communities work hard to raise funds for arts, culture and heritage related capital projects as they add significant value ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Foreign Ministers welcome opening of New Zealand High Commission in Colombo
    New Zealand and Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministers, Nanaia Mahuta and Dinesh Gunawardena, have welcomed the opening of the New Zealand High Commission in Colombo next week. The Foreign Ministers, who met virtually yesterday, spoke about the opening of the High Commission as a major milestone in the bilateral relationship. Both ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand to increase NZDF commitment to the United Nations Command, Republic of Korea
      The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will deploy three additional personnel to the Republic of Korea, increasing the size of its contribution to the United Nations Command and its Military Armistice Commission from nine to 12 personnel. “Increasing the size of our deployment to the Republic of Korea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Wages up, unemployment down
    The Government’s efforts to secure the recovery has seen more Kiwis in jobs and higher wages, with unemployment falling to pre-COVID levels and more people in work. Stats NZ figures show unemployment rate fell to 4 percent in the June quarter from 4.6 percent in the March quarter, the lowest ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Poroporoaki: Dr Kihi Ngatai OSM
    Mauao tiketike tūmokemoke mai ana ra koe, papakitia ana e ngā tai kawenga roimata o te motu. E Ngāti Ranginui, mo tō manuhuia kua tīkapea i te rangi. E Ngai Te Rangi, mo tō manutaki kua riro i te hau o Aitū kikini, E Ngāti Pukenga mo tō manutaiko, kua ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government support screen industry with funding for sound stages in West Auckland
    Auckland Film Studios in West Auckland has received funding for a major expansion through the Government’s Infrastructure Reference Group’s (IRG) COVID-19 Response Fund. The Government is investing $30 million of a total $35 million project to construct two 2,000sqm sound stages and development of further workshops and offices, to expand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Protecting unique land for generation next
    The Government is boosting legal protection for critically important natural habitats on private land, Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says. “An $8 million investment over four years will see Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Ngā Kairauhī Papa (QEII) work with government agencies, councils and others to provide legal protection of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand’s support for Fiji’s COVID-19 response continues with vaccine delivery, operational ...
    Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced further support for Fiji, including funding support for nursing staff and 100,000 doses of vaccines due to arrive in country today. “Our thoughts remain with Fiji during this incredibly challenging period,” Nanaia Mahuta said. “New Zealand has funded 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Poroporoaki: Dr Hōhepa (Joe) Mason
    Ko koe tēnā e te hurumanu e Hōhepa, te tōwenetanga a te iti, te māpihi herenga mahara o te tini, ka tauawhi tonuhia koe e to iwi ki te uma pupuri ai. Me pēhea he kupu kia koutou kua puta i nga ākinga a nga tau kua hori, kua waia ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Finance Minister and RBNZ Governor agree to update MOU on macro-prudential policy
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr have updated the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on macro-prudential policy to further protect the financial system and support the Government’s housing objectives. “This change will ensure that the Reserve Bank has the flexibility to respond to emerging financial stability risks ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government commits further assistance for drought and flood-affected rural communities
    Farmers and growers affected by this year’s drought or floods in Marlborough, Tasman, West Coat, Canterbury, Otago and the Chatham Islands will have access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) from today, Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni has announced. “The Government is committed to easing the financial pressures on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Cook Islands youth lead Language Week
    The Cook Islands Language Week theme for 2021 highlights the vital role language plays in maintaining young people’s links to their Pacific home, said Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.  “The Epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani – Cook Islands Language Week – theme is ‘Ātuitui’ia au ki ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government offers formal apology for Dawn Raids
    A formal and unreserved apology for the Dawn Raids The Government will offer education scholarships as part of the apology Manaaki New Zealand Short Term Scholarship Training courses Support Pacific artists and historians to develop a comprehensive written and oral account of the Dawn Raids Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Speech to Dawn Raids Apology
    Tēnā koutou katoa, Kia orana kotou katoatoa, Fakaalofa lahi atu ki mutolu oti, Tālofa nī, Mālō nī koutou, Ni sa bula vinaka, Fakatalofa atu, Noa'ia 'e mauri, Kam na mauri, Malo e lelei, Sioto'ofa, Mālō lava le lagi e mamā ma le soifua maua, Oue tulou, tulou atu, tulouna lava ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Bridging the gap – last piece of Northcote Safe Cycle Route now complete
    The opening of two bridges over Auckland’s Northern Motorway is the last link of a cycling and walking route which provides a safe, active alternative for students and commuters, Transport Minister Michael Wood said today. Michael Wood cut the ribbon for the completion of the Northcote Safe Cycle Route, at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Progress in establishment of Aged Care Commissioner
    Recruitment for an Aged Care Commissioner will start next month, to ensure greater oversight of New Zealand’s aged care sector. “This sector is responsible for supporting a large and often vulnerable population. While most people are able to access quality care, there have been cases where that care has fallen ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New record number of homes consented
    In the year ended June 2021, the actual number of new dwellings consented was 44,299, up 18 percent from the June 2020 year. In June 2021, the seasonally adjusted number of new dwellings consented rose 3.8 percent. In June 2021, 4,310 new dwellings were consented, an increase of 3.8 per ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Communities backed to tackle wilding pines
    Twelve community projects across New Zealand will receive a share of $2 million to carry out wilding pine control, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor announced as part of Biosecurity Week. “Wilding pines are a serious problem that threaten many of the unique landscapes that New Zealanders value. Community groups and trusts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Health Minister Andrew Little responding to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation's rejection of ...
    I was advised last night that the result of the ballot of Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa New Zealand Nurses Organisation members have rejected the latest proposal to settle their collective agreement. Let me be clear: the proposal was one they put to the Government. The Nurses Organisation rejected their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation introduced to Parliament
    Legislation has been introduced to Parliament to protect against practices intended to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Introducing the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill, Minister of Justice, Kris Faafoi, said the measures proposed were aimed at ending conversion practices which don’t work, are widely ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New kaupapa Māori mental health and addiction services to support people in central North Island
    New mental health and addiction services rolling out across the central North Island will improve outcomes and equity for Māori, Associate Minister of Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare says. Today the Minister met with providers of the new kaupapa Māori primary mental health and addiction service, Poutama Ora, which will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New kaupapa Māori mental health and addiction services to support people in central North Island
    New mental health and addiction services rolling out across the central North Island will improve outcomes and equity for Māori, Associate Minister of Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare says. Today the Minister met with providers of the new kaupapa Māori primary mental health and addiction service, Poutama Ora, which will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New school site for booming West Auckland
    The Government will build on a new school site in West Auckland to cope with rapid population growth in the area, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says. The Ministry is working with existing local schools to determine how the 1.5-hectare site at 279 Hobsonville Point Road will be used to support ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Trans-Tasman travel window to close at midnight tomorrow
    A further 500 MIQ rooms released for managed returnees from NSW Further Government actions announced today are balanced to provide more certainty for Kiwis wanting to return from Australia, while continuing to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, acting Minister for COVID-19 Response Ayesha Verrall says. The actions were foreshadowed last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt investing millions in Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti schools
    Napier Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools are among those set to benefit from a $16.5 million investment in the Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti region, Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash announced today. The Government has set aside money in Budget 2021 to accelerate five projects in Napier, Hastings, Havelock North ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Game changing Jobs for Nature investment for Northland
    Conservation Minister Kiri Allan has announced Jobs for Nature funding for a portfolio of projects that will create ‘game changing’ gains for nature and communities across Northland/Te Tai Tokerau as part of the Government’s acceleration of the economic recovery from COVID. “This portfolio of 12 projects will see over $20 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Third COVID-19 vaccine receives provisional approval
    New Zealand’s regulatory authority Medsafe has granted provisional approval of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older, Acting Minister for COVID-19 Response Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. New Zealand secured 7.6 million doses (enough for 3.8 million people) of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Bowel-cancer screening programme is saving lives
    More than 1000 New Zealanders have had bowel cancer – New Zealand’s second-most-common cause of death from cancer - detected under the Government’s National Bowel Screening Programme, Health Minister Andrew Little said today. More than 1200 New Zealanders died from bowel cancer in 2017. The screening programme aims to save ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt welcomes draft report on the retail grocery sector
    The Commerce Commission’s draft report into the retail grocery sector is being welcomed by Government as a major milestone. “I asked the Commerce Commission to look at whether this sector is as competitive as it could be and today it has released its draft report for consultation,” Commerce and Consumer ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Christchurch’s Youth Hub ‘set to go’ thanks to further Government funding
    Construction of New Zealand’s first, purpose-built centre for youth well-being is ready to get underway thanks to an extra $2.5 million of COVID-19 response funding, Housing Minister and Associate Minister of Finance, Megan Woods announced today.  “The Christchurch Youth Hub is about bringing together all the things young people need ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Next step to protect Milford Sound Piopiotahi
    Expert group lays out plan to better protect iconic UNESCO World Heritage site Milford Sound Piopiotahi and its surrounds Funding confirmed for dedicated unit and Establishment Board to assess the recommendations and provide oversight of the process from here Milford Opportunities Project a test case for transformational change in tourism ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Funding for projects to reduce waste from construction and demolition
    The Government has announced funding for projects in Auckland and the lower North Island to help reduce construction and demolition waste. “Construction is the main source of waste sent to landfill, and much of this could be reduced, reused and recovered,” Environment Minister David Parker said. “The Government is funding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Speech at the launch of the National Hepatitis C Action Plan
    Tēnā koutou katoa. Thank you Anglesea Pharmacy and Te Manawa Taki for hosting this event. As a doctor, I saw first hand the impact of hepatitis C. I met Moana in 2019; she came to the infectious diseases outpatient clinic at Wellington Hospital having tested positive for hepatitis C. Like ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago