IHC workers won a lengthy court battle to have the work they do overnight (so-called ‘sleepover’ shifts) recognised as work worthy of the minimum wage. The $300m in backpay they were due would have bankrupted IHC. The government, so keen to bailout corporate mates, refused to help. Now, the workers have given us, taxpayers, a $200m break on their debt.
The Herald describes the deal that the workers struck with the government:
Under the deal, 3700 IHC sleepover workers and about 2000 others working for other employers would get $55 million in backpay, plus an ongoing $47.5 million a year from Christmas 2012. Sleepover pay would increase in three steps to the full minimum wage of $13 an hour at that date. The Government would pay the first two increases, but only fund the increase to the full minimum wage from July 2013. IHC would carry the extra cost of paying the full rate from Christmas.
Would you give up two thirds of the back pay you were owed and accept future work on less than the minimum wage? Yeah, me neither. It shows how generous these workers have been. With the government’s intransigence, and the probable threat that it would simply legislate away their rights as it did with film workers if they caused too much trouble, the workers stood up to save IHC and forgive $22m of debt.
They should be applauded.