I had planned to write something about the business lobby’s moaning over Labour’s plans to restore workers’ rights to meal and rest breaks, but as usual No Right Turn nails it perfectly:
The government’s plan to restore a minimum entitlement for breaks in the workplace has produced the usual reaction: squealing from employer’s groups, with the Hospitality Association warning that it will introduce ‘time police’, while Business NZ claims that it is unnecessary as workers and employers are working it out for themselves.
The former is simply scaremongering – the law will create a minimum entitlement, and there’ll be no compulsion to take it. OTOH, bosses will not be able to force people to work without breaks anymore – a prospect which I can see will be deeply concerning to the Hospitality Association’s penny-pinching members. As for the latter, according to the EPMU lack of proper breaks is one of the biggest complaints they get from non-members – which suggests that many employers aren’t ‘working it out’ to the satisfaction of their members.
This law is fundamentally about two things: fairness and dignity. And it is sad to see that our employers, as represented by their membership organisations, do not believe in those values.
As it happens I had a chat to my aunt last night. She works at Heinz Watties in Hastings and recently her job was contracted out to Allied Workforce, a labour-hire company that exists purely to extract excess profits by screwing down the workforce.
Aside from the bullying, harassment and late pay cheques that Allied has become famous for in the Bay, my aunt and her workmates have recently been forced to work six hour shifts on the production line without a break.
It’s this kind of practice that Business NZ and the Hospitality Association are defending, and while most employers are happy to treat their workers with dignity and respect, once again the business lobby is using its resources to defend the abusive practices of our worst employers.