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New Zealand – Temp union outlines how to ease the struggles of labour-hire work

13 September 2018

FIRST Union, the union representing over 2,500 labour-hire workers (temps), has made its submission to the Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill today as part of the Union’s Real Work Real Jobs campaign.

FIRST Union's Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing Secretary, Jared Abbott outlined the changes needed to ensure labour-hire company contracts abide by the requirements of the Employment Relations Act 2000.

“We are asking the government to allow workers the right to elect permanent employment with the host company where an assignment is for an indefinite period, similar to what currently exists for fixed term employees. Secondly, that workers who commence working on a site with a collective agreement be covered by that agreement to ensure bad operators do not use labour-hire as a way to pin down wages amongst a raft of other issues. ”

FIRST Union believes the following four amendments will deal with the loopholes without impacting genuine labour hire situations: 

  1. The Bill should be extended to allow labour-hire workers to elect the host company as their employer if their employment is for an unlimited duration.
  2. The union believes that when a labour hire worker commences working on a site where a collective agreement is present, the worker should be automatically covered by the terms and conditions of the most advantageous collective, which covers the work they are performing.
  3. The worker should be able to automatically join the host employer as a party to the personal grievance, rather than having to apply to the Employment Relations Authority.
  4. The language and definitions used in the current Bill have the potential to create confusion in certain scenarios.

The Union acknowledged that there are limited circumstances in which labour hire arrangements are genuine and work for both parties. However, our submission will address the large majority of labour hire arrangements which are disingenuous and simply serve to replace permanent jobs with insecure jobs. 

Mr Abbott adds that the Union has concerns around the submissions made. “A majority of the submissions opposing the bill all used this template that includes whole paragraphs not written by the submitter. It’s frustrating that organisations and lobby groups write people’s submissions for them to boost their numbers.”

FIRST Union is the second largest private sector union in New Zealand representing 27,000 workers in the Finance, Industrial (Textile and Wood), Retail, Stores, Transport and Logistics sectors.

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