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ACT’s contractor policy robs workers of fundamental rights

ACT’s policy on contractors would open workers up to exploitation and lead to employees being forced into contractor relationships without basic rights, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions said today.

NZCTU National Secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges said ACT’s policy undermines the rights of all workers and perpetuates the exploitation rife in our labour market.

“What we need is reform, to ensure unscrupulous employers are not able to exploit and disadvantage working people. There’s no doubt if enacted, this policy would encourage employers to put workers on a contractor relationship. More would lose basic entitlements like sick leave and holiday pay.

Ansell-Bridges said ACT has paid no attention to the low-paid workers affected by this policy.

“We need to be thinking about the courier drivers who endure dangerously long working weeks, struggling to complete their assigned runs, all the while aware that they cannot build any value in their business due to the possibility of overnight route changes.

“We need to think about the forestry and construction contractors who operate in hazardous environments but fear retaliation if they raise safety concerns with their superiors.

“We need to think about the cleaners who barely earn minimum wage, are deprived of KiwiSaver contributions, and face uncertainty regarding their retirement prospects. It is important to recognise that contractors who are satisfied with their employment arrangements seldom challenge them. ACT’s proposed changes will only serve to benefit employers.

The NZCTU urges policymakers to prioritise the concerns and wellbeing of working people by enacting legislation that enhances protections for contractors, rather than eroding them.

“The rights and dignity of employees must be safeguarded, and it is the responsibility of our elected representatives to ensure a fair and just labour environment for all. Voters should bear this in mind coming polling day on October 14.”