Dear Jacinda Ardern – End Workplace Exploitation and Abuse NOW!

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Kia Ora Jacinda,

Please help stop exploitation.

Thousands of workers are bullied, sacked, underpaid or exploited every day. As a group of volunteers, we do our best to help these workers.

Unfortunately, we are coming across an increasing number of employers who are deliberately exploiting and bullying vulnerable employees. Many victims are too scared to even ask for their minimum rights and protections.

Our employment legal system is broken. When victims do decide to stand up, the lengthy delays and high costs prevent them from getting justice through the legal process.

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Guilty abusers are allowed to pay a fraction of what they owe. They get full and permanent confidentiality, and are free to repeat their abusive behaviour. This has led to the rapid spread of exploitation and bullying in our workplaces.

We have a very simple plan to stop it.

These three law changes will end exploitation and abuse at work overnight.

1. Any employer exploiting vulnerable workers, including migrant workers, shall be referred to the criminal courts.

👉 If exploiters know they could go to prison, they will stop their abusive behaviour.

2. If an owner sells or closes their business to avoid justice, the employer shall be held personally liable for any money owed to a victim. Currently many employers who exploit ‘sell’ their business to an associate before their case is heard.

👉 Cases must no longer be automatically dismissed on these grounds.

3. Any worker’s claim of under $20,000 must be held within one month. A mediator shall decide the matter and any compensation is to be paid within 14 days. More expensive or severe cases shall be decided within 3 months.

👉 Currently, victims regularly wait for more than a year just to get their case heard.

With your help, we can stop criminal exploitation by employers in our country.

Sincerely yours,

UTU JUSTICE FOR WORKERS CAMPAIGN

Why is this important?

We want thousands of people to sign this letter. We want to convince the prime minister that many New Zealanders want to her to change the current laws, so victims will get prompt and fair justice. Only then will workplace exploitation and abuse stop.

🔥 Who are we? 🔥

UTU for Workers Union is dedicated to campaigning to stop workplace exploitation and abuse in Aotearoa NZ. We fight for justice.

We provide employment advice and advocacy for any worker in a non-unionised workplace who can’t afford a lawyer.

The campaign is co-ordinated in partnership with the Migrant Workers Association. They provide pastoral and visa support to exploited migrant workers.

Currently our name is One Union, and we are an incorporated society and registered trade union. From May 2021 we will formally be renamed UTU for Workers Union.

Please sign this open letter to Jacinda to end workplace exploitation and abuse.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Agree 100%. Also stop dispute resolution confidentiality and non- disclosure clauses from being almost automatic now, and thereby protecting bad employers. Also there is no good reason why government dept bullies, in particular, should be protected by confidentiality agreements.

  2. Matt i have shared this campaign on social media but i have yet to see any commitment by this Social Democrat government to do anything of substance in the area of exploitation and our corporate labour laws.

    I know Michael Wood is effective but i have yet to see any real structural change to our evil labour laws in the four years this government has been in office.

    The ” market knows best ” is still prevalent and the main neo liberal structure is still firmly in place with the mantra of socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor is still very much alive and well.

    Your recommendations are totally reasonable and theory implementation would provide desperately needed
    action and show a commitment by the Blairites that they are actually serious about much needed reform and protection for our most valuable resource. Kiwi workers and their families.

  3. The most effective way to stop workplace abuse would be for workers to become organised enough to simply stop working. That, used to be called this silly, old fashioned thing called ‘unions’. Nothing really, no need for them actually. Competition within the workforce! That’s the ticket.
    Before enlightenment we must first chop wood and carry water, pardon the manual labour metaphor.
    Workplace exploitation and abuse is the fun part of being an employer in many cases. It’s the frisson in the diddle, the stiffener of the nipple. It’s what empowers the weak. Knowing they have power over others. Indeed, cultivating an environment within which [they] can exert power and what better place than at work over ones employees. I had a boss once and not for fucking long I can tell you who told me in confidence that he was in it for the power he had over others. He was, as was the vernacular of the day, a sick puppy. Of course, he’s now worth millions and has a whanau and a beautiful home in Auckland etc and some would say ‘good on him’. He deserves what he worked hard for.
    He was also an abusive arsehole. He exploited his employees and he was a bully. He was also admired and envied…? The question What the fuck? springs to mind?
    In my opinion AO/NZ’s entire socio-economic infrastructure’s dysfunctional. Our politic is dysfunctional, our communities are dysfunctional, our farmers working in the remote and lonely hinterlands are dysfunctional, people who drag themselves out of their beds to drive through our frankly a bit shit cities to labour at pointless ‘jobs’ are dysfunctional, our cops are dysfunctional, they must be because they bust drug users when drug use is a health issue not a criminal justice issue as would be defined by logic but not by our police or our politics. We’re an artless, desperado class who will smack the missus and whack the kids but we won’t vote ’cause wha’s th’ point mate?
    We can ignore the unlucky and unlovely trying to bed down as best they can in the fucking streets but we’ll happily pay the real estate agent tens of thousands of dollars to fake a smile to sell the grotesquely over valued house, sorry investment property, while never realising ( Or choosing to ignore ) that you’ve just been punked by foreign banksters who’re really just crooks in suits who’ve been trained in the fine arts of how to fuck we, the terminally, haplessly, eye wateringly ignorant on the deal. Do you know the difference between a crook and a human being? A crook has an empty space where their conscience used to be so they filled it with sociopathic narcissism. Sound familiar?
    We need leadership which might come along and appeal to the imaginations of we AO/NZ’ers but we’ve got none left. Our imaginations have been bleached from us by endless and unnecessary hardship in a country renown the world over as a paradise.
    I’ve always written; what we need foremost is an actor to appeal to we, the emotionally crippled and down trodden in such a way that we will rise up against our abusers and kick some ass. @ Matt McCarten? Do you have Sasha Baron Choen’s phone number?
    I’d do it but I’m old and lazy. No one can call me dishonest though.

  4. Though I agree with this article, it’s not going to happen.

    If you’re an employee and you’re being bullied, put in unsafe situations or not being paid – leave!

    Don’t wait weeks, months or years! Leave today. I can understand why people don’t, however you have a responsibility to yourself too.

  5. Agree hugely that worker and labour rights in NZ should be tightened up.

    But “Any employer exploiting vulnerable workers, including migrant workers, shall be referred to the criminal courts.”

    Shouldn’t it be any worker being exploited has the rights for their case to be referred to the criminal courts? Not just vulnerable workers? Why make the distinction? Worker exploitation is across the board in NZ and getting worse with more scams.

    Joanne Harrison for example managed to make redundant workers who were questioning her criminal frauds.

    Then there was professors and lawyers bullying or sexually harrassing others.

    None of these may fit the ‘vulnerable’ worker discourse that the media and woke love but are not acceptable ways for colleagues or managers to behave in their employment roles.

    It is extremely easy for people to use power in NZ against others, and not always in the woke sense that government has become obsessed about, such as migrant exploitation (while woke are seemingly encouraging migrant exploitation with more migrant work permits, for lower end jobs and for longer. While also having non NZ citizens able to bring in work visa applicants into NZ so it’s a free for all).

    NZ workers are easy to exploit as NZ workers often have a ‘trust’ model and so are easily exploited by scammers who seem to be everywhere in NZ.

    It’s actually considered good business in NZ to exploit labour here.

    A starting point for helping workers should be compulsory redundancy payments.

    Another change necessary is that ERA should be able to hear all labour cases equally not just those in “employment” so that contractors, gig workers and so forth don’t have additional discrimination to them by being a ‘get out of jail free’ card for abusive employers and employment scams as they try to make every worker outside of employment to ensure they don’t have to pay minimum statuary contributions. (Employment scams are increasing across the board in NZ not just for migrants and vulnerable people. )

    If we want to keep NZ a safe place for labour here, then government need to update the employment laws with the times.

    There needs to be a complete system for redress for labour disputes across the courts in NZ. NZ is falling behind the world (and OZ) and it is starting with our abusive labour laws that encourage labour exploitation in NZ and have a very narrow view of it.

    ERA needs to be more user friendly, more like disputes tribunal and tenancy tribunal.

    There should be under $50k courts for Labour disputes, over $50k courts for Labour disputes and then collective or test labour cases, which is when there are legal points to prove in discrimination to keep up with the growing labour scams and exploitation, aka not paying holiday pay, uber drivers etc.

    The payments are also so low from ERA that people’s legal costs are over the pay outs so for middle class workers. There is little incentive or penalty in NZ to provide decent benefits for labour here.

  6. This government has trapped renters in a situation where they cannot move, they have to find the landlords extra $150 a week, they are stuck. They cannot leave an area. They cannot afford to leave their job. Their lives are hell. They are depressed, anxious and worst of all, often suicidal. At least the slumlords are happy though hey?

    • That is only one aspect of “Utu”.. Go back and read the whole story before any more attempts to look erudite… It’s actually the perfect name for what amounts to the fight to get back to some sort of rational, realistic employment framework.. One that was utterly destroyed by the last gang of colonial power grabbers…

  7. UTU for Workers Union seems a hybrid activist organisation angling for social change and doing some case work and education along the way as they put the fear of the proverbial into some of the worst exploiters.

    If we had a class left, regularly fighting central labour organisation, such adventurism would not be necessary. CTU officials turned up at the bus strike/lockout today, dunno, because it was in Wellington? I will be watching their statements closely on this because if they cannot make significant noise about venture capitalists locking out essential transport workers then they may as well retire.

    Remember Matt McCarten started Unite union for the untouchables, as other unions deemed fast food and migrant workers, and is a credible ongoing force today. So who knows where UTU might end up. “Living Wage” was a movement that got tacked onto some unions work flows and has delivered in some areas while a flawed programme imo that does not necessarily increase union density.

    So good luck with UTU.

  8. What’s with ‘vulnerable’ workers? How about all workers? Surely this behaviour is unacceptable no matter what. Just think of the gig economy as an example – it doesn’t just target and exploit migrants and ‘vulnerable’ workers, so called white collar workers get caught up in it too.

  9. Yes it’s time to nationalise all activities in New Zealand so we can become the Venezuela of the south and in the words of Winston Churchill we can all be equally miserable.

    • NZ used to do very well when it wasn’t being controlled by the whims of Neoliberalism and the financial sector. At one stage in the late 60’s, from memory, Time Magazine listed NZ as one of the most socialist of states internationally. Now, the average worker has to pay for various levels of self-entitled ticket clippers, and over the odds prices for all the basic necessaries of life. Even the Government has less say that the money-go-round!

      Admittedly, NZ could become the Venezuela of the south. All it would take is for the US to decide we are a subversive communist state in their backyard. Then, by way of sanctions, fraudulent elections and/or force, ultimately succumb to an imposed police state and Government of the US’s choosing. Of course, Venezuelans only became a threat when they were increasingly educated, lifted from abject poverty and able to take control of their own lives.

      As for Churchill’s quote, the number of miserable seems to be ever increasing, so nationalisation is becoming a very appealing alternative to what we already have – a very unequal society. NZ ranks 14th in the world with the widest gaps between rich and poor according to US Today (2019).

  10. ” If you’re an employee and you’re being bullied, put in unsafe situations or not being paid – leave ”

    C’mon Zack just leave !!!!

    And then do what ?

    Hope you can get another starvation position where they will be treated the same way !

    Hope they will get a reference lol !!!

    Those comments from you show that you either have never been bullied in a job or run a business where you haven’t the first idea how terrifying it can be turning up to a job every day and having to endure the endless shit you are not paid or should have to put up with because you have no support or are to terrified to complain because you may end up not being able to feed or provide a roof over your head or your children’s.

    You are the perfect ” i don’t do reality ” neo liberal that most of us here on the TDB stand against.

    • I think Jack was just trying to point out that there is not much redress or justice in NZ workplaces. To me the advice sounded like it’s from personal experience… it costs a lot to stay and fight at a bullying workplace. Also some of the bullies are the first ones to claim bullying.

      Also it is hard as an employer to have a bully in the workplaces and navigate the spot between the bully and the victim because most bullies love playing the victim role too. If you discipline the bully they then take the employer to court. You can’t win.

      In addition most management in NZ is crap and getting worse, so even if they want to help anybody (which most don’t), they get it wrong.

      The NZ employer response has gone from empowering even low skills workers, to contracting the work out to the cheapest party or mates, and not worrying too much about quality or long term results and our low productivity show this approach is across the board and getting worse.

      In generally NZ can’t grow in the high skills and knowledge economy, because NZ management is frightened of smart people, and not willing to pay for high end skills and knowledge – they fear it. They want to import in people who don’t know much about NZ, don’t speak the language well in some cases, and then the scams will not be detected or ignored. (AKA removing steel from construction post inspection, not dobbing in dumping of waste etc.)

      As for training, the NZ employer response is “why train workers when they expect them to just leave once trained for better pay and conditions.”

      Business and Government in NZ only trust money and glorify people like Eric Watson who essentially rip others off, without (mostly) being caught. Once the Eric Watson types are caught nothing much happens, they just get to pay a bit of their ill gotten gains back, but can make it last for decades, until others give up.

      NZ is stuck in a mindset of not empowering people with real skills and experience from low end to high end jobs, and having a culture of being distrustful of skilled people, while glorifying crooks or people with monopolies.

      There is not much interest in helping skilled people stay in NZ workplaces. However NZ can not grow our economy or business, while in that mindset and can not raise wages when our jobs are going back to the dark ages.

  11. Jacinda doesna know much about what every TDB loyalist knows. What everyone who remembers the Welfare State knows. Her and Grant. But I see they are trying to make some energy up off their ignorance, or something. And the cretins on TS and the RNZ Monday morning politics section support them. Despise’m all.

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