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The incredible generosity of IHC workers

Written By: - Date published: 10:19 am, September 8th, 2011 - 8 comments
Categories: wages, workers' rights - Tags:

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.


8 comments on “The incredible generosity of IHC workers ”

  1. bbfloyd 1

    of course, this will be used by the govt, through the poodle network, to show that the workers had no case to start with…

    and the cockies go yea nah yea nah yea nah…..(sung to the tune “my old man’s an all black)

    another triumph by the brave defenders of the downtrodden richlisters over those filthy commie unions…

  2. Policy Parrot 3

    While this is a noble act by the employees, and unselfish, generosity may not be the right word here. Their original position, while legally and morally correct, would eventually not have stood up to the supremacy of Parliament (especially the current one).

    The compromise they were forced to make just shows the mean-spiritedness of the government, forcing those already on low wages to give up $245 million. Again, I would not say that compromise here is about being generous, but about being forced to accept less than they were entitled. Like the RWNJs frequently complain, “is forced generosity really generosity?”

    Perhaps the government should take a leaf out of Berlusconi’s government and introduce a special solidarity tax on parliamentarians, in order to help make up the shortfall between the original entitlement and the current settlement.

  3. higherstandard 4

    They should be applauded for they work they do full stop.

  4. ianmac 5

    Great IHC workers!
    I wonder how soon will the increases take effect?

  5. RobC 6

    This article is not quite correct – workers are getting 50% of backpay between June 2005 – July 2011. The $300 million figure used in “debate” months ago was unverified and, as now shown, inaccurate – I think Ryall even used $500 million at one point in his scaremongering.

    @ianmac: the move to 50% of the minimum wage will be backdated to 1 July 2011, the middle step (75%) on 1 July 2012, then 100% no later than Xmas 2012 (in other words, on 24 Dec 2012). Or a $34 sleepover is now $58.50, $88 on 1 Jul 2012 and $117 at Xmas 2012.

    @ Policy Parrot: it’s not even forced generosity – it’s a combination of desperation (many of these low-paid workers are so hard up they’ll grab anything they can get), and fear (as the threats in the background of retrospective legislation and/or IHC going bankrupt meant in their eyes there would be a chance they got nothing, even if they did win at the Supreme Court)

    My wife is one of these workers. I’ve voted National all my life and I am never ever fucking voting for them ever again over this. My wife has been underpaid about $10k / year while this has gone through the courts and she’ll get 5k back (assuming Cabinet ratify the agreement and the legislation gets passed – I won’t believe the deal until the money is in the bank) – woohoo wonder how much screaming there’d be if SCF investors only got back 50c in the dollar?

    And I agree with bbfloyd – the Govt will put spin on this as the final court never got to rule. I really hope aged care workers or some other similar industry tries the same thing.

  6. Takere 7

    Hekia Parata probably would like to see this sector become part of her port folio “Community and Voluntary Sector”. 270 million unpaid hours for a multitude of third party “charitable organisations” where wives and partners get to run an organisation “For Charity” but claim for themselves huge salaries & expense accounts off the backs of hard working kiwi’s who don’t get paid!! This equates to about 177,000 unpaid jobs!! $3.3 Billion dollars Parata has worked it out to be!!

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