Ground Zero for ‘disastrous’ contracts

Yesterday the Green Party called on the Government to follow the leadership of Restaurant Brands and ditch zero-hour contracts.

Currently it looks like the Government is a large part of the zero-hours problem. It allows these types of “non-jobs” to be listed through Work and Income, which hasn’t ruled out cutting someone’s benefit if they refuse to take a zero-hour contract. We assume this has been happening and, even if it hasn’t, the threat to cut benefits has been.

These contracts are a disaster for most people. Zero-hour contracts mean workers go from week to week not knowing when their next pay cheque will be or how much they’ll be paid. This makes it really hard to pay the rent and care for a family, let alone make any other financial plans.

This is particularly bad for sole parents, and people who have been on a Jobseeker benefit because of a stress-related illness or mental illness. These contracts can set back people’s healing and progress, ultimately forcing them back onto a benefit.

Forcing people to take these contracts also has an opportunity cost as people miss out on finding secure, reliable work that might actually help them get ahead.

The Government has said its main response to poverty is welfare reform and getting people into work. If Work and Income makes a stand to only accept secure, regular, minimum-hour jobs, and commits to not sanctioning anyone for turning one of these contracts down, it would have a positive impact for workers, New Zealand families and society as a whole.

3 Comments Posted

  1. These contracts are just another indication of the trend in which working people are reduced to peonage by owners. Not the only such.

    Without changes to the tax structure so that land/wealth/capital-gains are taxed more and wealth is distributed better, we are going to see more of this in more ways. It is seriously difficult to see how one creates different incentives for the owning corporations, but without changing those incentives the corporates will continuously endeavor to find ways to bind workers to work without pay or permanence.

  2. Positive it seems to be good that anybody on these contracts is employed however the state remains to be paying the payments to subsidise the poor employment insurance policies of uncaring corporates. Give the folks concerned the pleasure in an actual job that pays their means and provides them safety – even when the corporate has to pay actual vacation and extra time cash.

  3. It is a government method of putting people off the official employment figures they use. Sure it looks good that anyone on these contracts is employed but the state is still paying the bills to subsidise the poor employment policies of uncaring corporates. Give the people involved the pride in a real job that pays their way and gives them security – even if the company has to pay real holiday and overtime money.
    Then the public would see the real situation of unemployment and then real choices about good economic policy would be forced.

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