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Temp work undermines jobs and decent wages

A Hays report out today showing 64 per cent of employers use temporary or contract staff and 18 per cent intend to increase their use in the coming year is bad news for secure and decent work in New Zealand, says Labour’s Associate Labour spokesperson Darien Fenton.

“Temporary workers have no rights to ongoing employment and no defence against arbitrary dismissal. Contractors have no employment rights at all, including no minimum wage, no holidays and no rights to protection against unfair dismissal.

“At its worst, temporary work is used to replace good, well-paying jobs with agencies who employ workers on minimum wage to do essentially the same work as those they work alongside.

“The use of temporary or labour-hire workers is on the increase in manufacturing and food production in particular. This is leaving permanent workers defenceless in the wake of demands from employers to cut their wages.

“More disturbing is the admission by some employers in the survey that they use temporary and contract work as a means to assess ongoing employment.

“Apart from being of dubious legality, the 90-day trial period was supposed to provide a way for evaluating suitability of employment, yet employers are continuing to dream up new devices to avoid the obligations of employment law and put the risk back on workers.

“Labour has consistently raised our concerns about the vulnerability of insecure work over several years and would have legislated by now to stop these practices.

“There is a place for temporary work and fixed term contracts are provided for in the Employment Relations Act. But this kind of practice is nothing to be celebrated and will do nothing to contribute to better paid decent work in New Zealand,” Darien Fenton says.