Tea breaks gone by lunch time

Labour is calling for an eleventh hour reprieve to employment law changes which could see thousands of Kiwi workers not covered by collective agreements lose their smoko breaks, its spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says.

“How cynical that on the eve of Labour weekend, the National government is pushing through legislation that takes away the statutory right to tea and meal breaks along with collective bargaining protections, and makes vulnerable workers jobs even less secure.

“Under changes to clause 44 of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, which comes back to the House tonight, the vast majority of non-unionised workers will lose minimum entitlements to smoko breaks.

“Labour wants to see those specific entitlements restored.

“The Human Rights Commission has pointed out that the proposed changes are inconsistent with New Zealand’s international obligations.

“At a time when a growing number or people cannot get pay rises, and the real value of wages for many is dropping, we need measures to improve wages and conditions, not make them worse.

“Changes to the Employment Relations Act will impact on workers and their families. It is not, as the Government would have it, about more flexibility, but is a dismantling of hard-fought Kiwi workers’ rights,” Andrew Little said.

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