web analytics

Who is Kate Wilkinson taking aim at?

Written By: - Date published: 11:20 am, September 8th, 2009 - 20 comments
Categories: national/act government, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

By John Ryall, SFWU National Secretary

While The Standard readers know that the air traffic controllers were the excuse that Kate Wilkinson used to signal a repeal of parts of the 2008 Employment Relations Act (Breaks and Infant Feeding) Amendment Act, they are probably not aware of who is really going to be affected by their removal.

Kate Wilkinson was on the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee when the Service and Food Workers Union presented their submission in June last year. Union member and Indian immigrant worker James Joseph told his story of what life was like working in Wellington ethnic restaurants a different side of life that no one on the select committee had ever experienced. James came to New Zealand 11 years ago but it was some time before he discovered that most workers received breaks during their working day.

In one of the restaurants he worked split shifts, working from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then from 4.30 p.m. to 11 p.m. or later. When he insisted on having a short break every three hours he was called a ‘troublemaker’ and sacked by his employer.

Despite being six months without work he raised the work break issue in his new employment. He thought he would be on safer ground here because he actually had a written employment agreement, something that had not been given him in his previous job. The Agreement even had a rest breaks clause:

‘The Employer can arrange Rest and Meal Breaks so that they do not cause disruption to clients, customers or production.’

He approached his employer about scheduling in some rest breaks and was told that it was not possible during the hours he worked because the restaurant was always too busy. After arguing with the employer about the intention of the clause James decided to schedule his own breaks and talked to his fellow workers about doing the same. The employer didn’t take long to react to this ‘insubordination’. He showed James the door.

James told the Select Committee that challenging these employers without the protection of the law was very difficult for workers such as himself.

‘Being an overseas worker is not easy when you have nowhere else to go; you don’t have a house; you don’t have a job; you don’t have anyone to talk to. We do need something. We are just killing ourselves.’

Unlike the other members of the Select Committee Kate didn’t react to James Joseph’s story but she did comment that she was concerned that if meal and rest breaks were put into law that those employers who were giving longer breaks may shorten them back to the minimum provisions in the law.

Prior to the passing of the rest breaks amendment last year the SFWU used to receive a lot of calls from workers such as James and parents of young workers who were horrified that no law existed to give their sons and daughters meal breaks. Since the law change and the publicity around it these calls have dried up.

If Kate Wilkinson has her way we will be going back to the sad old situation that existed then.

20 comments on “Who is Kate Wilkinson taking aim at? ”

  1. Pascal's bookie 1

    “…but she did comment that she was concerned that if meal and rest breaks were put into law that those employers who were giving longer breaks may shorten them back to the minimum provisions in the law. ”

    Jeebus crying on the floor, where do they come up with this shit?

    • Maynard J 1.1

      It is all real, PB. When the minimum wage was increased to $12.50 my salary dropped from $50K+ straight back to the minimum. My employer said that because it was legislated, that was obviously the best rate.

      I rang Kate, told her my story; she has promised to abolish the minimum wage and liberate my salary from the shackles and tyranny of Government.

  2. A good post. Lots of reasonable people never hear of these types of behaviours and,so, when John presents the case for strong voice in thew workplace, backed up by appropriate legislation, people listen (except, perhaps, Ms Wilkinson, whose hearing is selective – perhaps employers talk at a different, more accessible pitch).

    And the anti-spam word is “unpleasant” – how appropriate.

  3. Zepher 3

    It scares me that she almost won my electorate by 500 votes.

  4. lprent 4

    I seem to remember that there is a word for people who are incapable of acknowledging other peoples suffering..


  5. helena 5

    Thankyou John for the reality check. Its great to hear from people who care.
    There are a lot of people on minimum wages whose bosses just want to flog them to death. The intention is to make more profit for themselves at the expense of their poor workers. Shame on Kate Wilkinson for not recognising that some workers dont have a lot of say or power over what happens to them and the only way they will be treated any better is if there is legislation to help them have some semblance of fair treatment.

  6. Tammy Gordon 6

    Good post John, thank you. There’s a parallel universe here in NZ and most of us ain’t in it and certainly none of them down at the Beehive. Do you remember when a National MP back in the 90s lived for a week on the DPB? Who was that? She declared, if I remember it correctly, that it was no problem for her and all those solo mums should toughen up and budget better. Naturally she didn’t have to pay bills that week and her pantry was suitably stocked. Perhaps Kate could pass a rather tougher test and work for a week as a pot scrubber in a busy restaurant.

    • Pascal's bookie 6.1

      Yeah I remember that Tammy, can’t recall who it was and Mr Gazoogle tells me that:

      Your search – “national party” “living on the benefit” – did not match any documents.

      from memory she was supposed to go a month, but had to quit because she needed to take a kid to the doctor, which wasnae in the plan.

      • felix 6.1.1

        If I recall correctly it was Katherine O’Regan.

        And yep, she couldn’t last one week, even with a fully stocked kitchen and all her bills paid up.

      • felix 6.1.2

        If I recall correctly it was Katherine O’Regan.

        And yep, she couldn’t even last one week – even with a fully stocked kitchen and all her bills paid up.

      • felix 6.1.3

        Katherine O’Regan.

      • Tammy Gordon 6.1.4

        well she should have thought about that before she had those kids!

  7. Len Richards 7

    Some cleaners at a major Auckland hospital told me this week that they have been missing out on their 10 minute afternoon break. Their supervisors were not observing the requirements of the new law. If there was no requirement in law many workers throughout the country would not get beaks.
    Unionised workers like those at the hospital have redress through their union and their negotiated employment contract. Workers in more vulnerable situations need the law to protect their rights.

  8. SFWU = Shut the Frickin Workers Up

  9. John Ryall 9

    Thanks for the supportive comments about my post.

    The point of my story about James Joseph is that there are tens of thousands of minimum wage workers like James in the hospitality sector who will be the ones to immediately suffer from Kate Wilkinson scrapping the rest breaks legislation, not a few high-income air traffic controllers.

  10. randal 10

    who is she taking aim at? anyone she can. as Adam smith pointed out in his “Theory Of Moral Sentiments” what people desire most of all is “command over labour”. It satisfies the nasty part of peoples desires. Bashing up low paid workers is basically a subsitute for bashing up others but this lot are easier and dont put up as much resistance.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago