Nine arrested after Auckland office protest

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Nine people were arrested yesterday after occupying the Auckland offices of recruitment firm Manpower, amid claims of exploitation and illegal contracts.

The protesters, who are all members of Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP), stormed the Symonds Street location at around 12pm demanding an end to unfair recruitment practices.

Earlier this week, Manpower was accused of signing up beneficiaries to legally questionable employment contracts. According to the Newshub investigation behind the allegations, contracts don’t specific pay rate, hours, location or even the job description.

“These are mandatory requirements in terms of what has to be in every written individual employment agreement so to try to get around that I would say is not only irregular but unlawful,” barrister Richard Upton told the news channel.

Despite the dearth of information on what exactly they’ll be doing, when and even where, beneficiaries risk having their benefit cut for up to 13 weeks if they turn down a job.

The contracts are also reported to include a clause which gives the global recruitment firm the power to collect and pass on information about workers’ race, sexual preference, religious beliefs and political views.

"Asking intimate details enables an employer more power to discriminate who gets work and who does not," said Vanessa Cole, who was among the protestors arrested yesterday.

Manpower managing director Richard Fischer strongly denied the claims of discrimination but said the allegations were being taken seriously.

"ManpowerGroup constantly reviews and adjusts its operations in order to fully comply with New Zealand legislation, as well as legislation in all the countries we operate in," he said in a statement.

"Furthermore, we always strive to ensure our candidates and associates are treated fairly and equitably. This is our practice and is in our culture."

A police spokesperson confirmed nine people were arrested for trespassing.

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