You’ll have seen in the paper that National is going to legislate, most likely under urgency, to let employers deny workers the right to take smoko and lunch breaks.
It’s a pretty basic work right, and a Kiwi tradition going right back to Blackball. To remove it just strikes me as petty and mean.
There’s no excuse for it either. There’s no evidence that the law isn’t working, and the one line they have, that airports would close down if air traffic controllers got to take breaks, has been shown to be bollocks.
In fact, the bill’s so lacking in evidence and reason that its own explanatory note says officials are concerned that the legislation has been developed “at speed and without adequate consultation”.
Now no one’s saying that everyone will have their meal breaks taken off them. Like Trevor Mallard points out, most employers accept that decent breaks are just common decency, while others are bound by collective agreements.
The workers who will miss out are the lowest paid and most vulnerable, who generally work in the shittiest jobs, and who have the worst employers. It’s those employers National is legislating for.
Like I said at the time this law change was mooted:
this isn’t about solving a dispute between a small union and some regional airports. It is, as Wilkinson admits in her press release, about bowing to the ‘pharmacies, schools, meat works and sole attendant operations such as petrol stations’ who have complained to her about the law.
Fact is, some employers don’t like having to give people breaks. More importantly, they don’t like their employees having the right to take breaks. Nothing is more upsetting to the authoritarian mindset of the small-minded boss than an employee who knows their rights and insists on enforcing them.
More on this later today.