Zero-Hour Contracts Banned in New Zealand

Zero-hour contracts have been outlawed in New Zealand after parliament unanimously passed a bill to ban the controversial practice, which is being hailed as a major victory for minimum wage workers, particularly in the fast-food industry, the Guardian reports.

Mike Treen, leader of the Unite union, who led the charge, said the move was being closely followed by fast-food workers worldwide, many of whom banded behind the New Zealand workers campaign last year.

“This is an incredible victory and I am still shocked by it to be honest – the fact that the ban was unanimously supported in parliament is pretty unbelievable,” Treen said.

Treen estimates there are “hundreds of thousands of workers” employed on zero-hour contracts in New Zealand, which means employers do not have to guarantee minimum hours of work per week, and often expect employees to be available 24/7.

The contracts have also caused controversy in the UK where the country’s biggest sports retailer, Sports Direct, has 15,000 employees on zero-hour deals.

In New Zealand they are typically used by fast-food chains, as well as by cinema groups, security firms and cleaning companies, Treen said.

The bill, which will take effect on 1 April, stipulates that employers must guarantee a minimum number of hours work each week, and workers can refuse extra hours without repercussions.

Original article by Eleanor Ainge Roy, The Guardian, March 11, 2016.

Photo by Christopher Thomond.

Tags: Guardian (The)  Mike Treen  Unite union  Zero-hour contracts  

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