Liars, thieves and cheats

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It has been revealed that the government agency responsible for enforcing employment rights tried to cover up the widespread abuse of the Holiday Act by employers in this country.

Documents released to the Council of Trade Unions by the Ministry of Business, Industry,

Employment (MBIE) show that they were aware of widespread failure by employers and payroll providers to comply with the Holiday’s Act. They estimated this has cost workers up to $2 billion dollars over the six-year period that workers can claim back pay for.

MBIE then colluded with the Minister responsible, Michael Woodhouse, to keep this information secret and together they proposed a law change to the government in April last year that employers have been demanding that would have effectively legalised this theft.

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Woodhouse recommended that annual leave be calculated using hours rather than days or weeks.

This has been the practice of fast food employers which Unite has been challenging on this issue over the past year. It effectively means that employers do not have to do a calculation to pay the “higher of” someone’s ordinary weekly pay or their average weekly pay. The ordinary weekly pay for someone who has increased the number of hours worked each week from 20 to 30, for example, should be paid out at the 30 hours a week rate not an average of the two.

Thankfully, the law change proposal failed to get Cabinet approval.

The public exposure of these documents and the possible multi-billion dollar liability owed to workers has forced Woodhouse to confirm to the media again on June 9 that there will be no change to the Holidays Act that reduces entitlement.

By trying to hide the evidence of the employers theft from the public, MBIE has contributed to at least an 18-month delay in workers being able to submit claims for the theft to be stopped.

Unite first wrote to the main employers in the fast food industry at the beginning of 2015. We were met by deliberate lies and obfuscation. They denied that they had a problem. We began the long, slow process of preparing a legal case against them. We were just about to file a case in the Employment Authority when MBIE admitted there was a problem after we went public with the issue early this year. That delay could have, and should have, been avoided.

MBIE says that any workers who have variable hours of work can be affected. They estimated this could be up to 763,000 workers being owed on average between $250 and $500 a year. One company they audited owed their staff $1800 each.

CTU president Richard Wagstaff declared that the CTU had lost confidence in the alleged impartiality of MBIE on the issue in a speech this week to the Plenary Session of the International Labour Congress

“The Inspectorate and the Government kept it secret for 18 months at least, and even when asked directly, did not come clean about the information they had gathered”, said Richard Wagstaff.
“Government policy is bent so far towards being ‘business facing’ that it is unbalanced and blind to the interests of working people,” he said.

There is actually a simple fix for most workers. MBIE says that they have consulted 22 payroll providers who represent approximately 95 percent of employers in New Zealand who use payroll software. Privately they admitted to MBIE that they were generally not compliant. Tell them and the employers they act for that they will all be prosecuted unless they fix the problem. I would like to see the day when there were a few bosses in jail for wage fraud and theft!

15 COMMENTS

  1. Certain rightwingers find it easier to blame the poor for their poverty rather than have to face facts and accept the reality that neo-liberalism is a failure, unless you happen to be in the top ten percent. Or 1% even!

    Blaming others seems to be a pre-occupation for rightwingers, which is ironic since they are the ones constantly demanding “personal responsibility” from everyone.

    • The RWNJs demand personal responsibility from everyone but themselves. They demand that everyone else take responsibility for their actions.

      • Andrew, I take it you also agree with this statement from the same article you linked to;

        The world now knows how to reduce poverty. A lot of targeted policies—basic social safety nets and cash-transfer schemes, such as Brazil’s Bolsa Família—help…

        Well?

      • L0L!…meanwhile, back in good old NZ , – the people cant buy a first home, cant pay the rent and have to live under bloody bridges or in their cars because their bloody wages are so shit to keep costs down for some rich slob and his mates who lobby the nAtional govt , kid’s die in cold ( soon to be privatized and sold off ) state houses because the working parents cant afford medical / heating expenses , social spending gets deliberately underfunded to make the case for yet more privatization …

        And idiots like you come on this blog trying to convince people neo liberalism is the greatest thing that ever crawled out of the Rothchild’s arse !!!

        You’re amazing !!!

        Amazingly stupid !!!… why ?… mainly because it shows you haven’t bothered to take into account the palpable growing fury of the voting populace at seeing the effects on children living in poverty and who are homeless !!!

        Do you not realize that the words ‘ neo liberalism ‘ are considered dirty words nowadays by not only the Left but among many , many centrist voters – not just in this country but even in the home of capitalism – the USA ?!!?

        You’re a complete dinosaur ! L0L !!!

        A joke !!! … a sick , out of touch , irrelevant joke !!!

      • I was reading a research paper a few months back that showed that if neo-liberalism hadn’t been forced upon Africa by the IMF/World Bank then Africa’s economy would have developed much faster than it has and that it would now have almost zero poverty.

        Noe-liberalism: Keeping poor people in poverty longer and turning once rich countries poor.

  2. What about temporary employment agencies, are they paying the right holiday pay. How does someone working for a temp agency on a temp contract get this situation sorted ? The temp workers will in all probability, will not have union representation and haven’t got the resources to fight if they have been paid wrong. This government is so corrupt its not funny.

  3. Also another tricky question ?

    With holiday pay as the act states ?

    How does this affect someone working a 6 day on three days off roster, working a 9 hour day, that works across pay weeks, where you may get a 6 day pay one week, then a four day pay the next.

  4. I would like to see the day when there were a few bosses in jail for wage fraud and theft!

    Me too!
    But don’t forget the manslaughter of workers
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1606/S00256/talleys-ordered-to-pay-94000-after-death-of-crewman.htm
    “Talley’s pleaded guilty to a charge laid by Maritime NZ under sections 6 and 50 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees while at work. The company was sentenced today (9 June, 2016) in Nelson District Court.”
    This isn’t the first time that Talley’s irresponsibility towards their workers has resulted in loss of life or severe maiming.
    IMHO employers ned to be licensed before they can hire anyone, and if they consistently fail in their treatment of their workers their license is revoked.

  5. L0L !!!

    They’re at it again,…. naughty, naughty Mr Woodhouse and friends…

    Wouldn’t it rock you , eh?… so now we have the MBIE and a govt minister acting like common dockside thugs…

    But we should not be surprised at this sort of behavior… not when we have Bennett and Key trying the same sort of gag with the Salvation Army,.. ie : lying. And as the title reads… Liars, thieves and cheats,… this then is par for the course with this govt.

    About the only redeeming features of this sort of disclosure is that it confirms what many have long suspected – and creates even more logical reasons to vote this degenerate govt out of office.

    Bill English’s ” We should be glad we have a LOW WAGE economy because it encourages FOREIGN INVESTMENT ”… is sounding more and more hollow by the day.

    And with disclosures such as the MBIE and Woodhouse trying to keep things a secret – then trying to enable crooked employers to pass into law legalized theft – well, – that just shows what this govt is all about.

    Vote the bastards out.

    • What about the Exclusive Bretheran Brash’s Plan to get NZ wages matching Australia’s or was that just hot air like the “Brighter Future” Plan?

  6. There are thousands of “poor” immigrants in Auckland driving BMWs and sports cars. Quite right to blame the government for the impoverished arrogance of these migrant wealth flaunters.

  7. Why not just change the law to escape fraud…they did it for the stand down period on benefits when they realised they’d being denying entitlements to the needy people of New Zealand. If in doubt just legislate your way out.

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