Parliamentary workers on zero hours contracts

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Speaker David Carter has confirmed that nine people are currently employed in the Parliamentary Precinct on zero-hour contracts.

The New Zealand Herald reports that the employees are contracted by Aussie cleaning and catering company Spotless.

Labour leader Andrew Little has said that Labour will take action against parliamentary staff working on a zero hours basis.

“There are now 18,000 fast food workers who are no longer subject to zero-hour contracts following public outrage,” he said. “If these massive companies can quickly adapt, then there is no reason Parliament can’t.”

Little reportedly claimed that he had written to the Speaker to voice his concern, and that he would be raising the issue in a meeting this evening.

“I think it is a disgrace...[Parliamentary Service] run the contract...they can say to the contractor, ‘we don't want this style of employment here’,” he said. “You now have two pretty large employers, Restaurant Brands and Burger King, who have said we just don't need these things and we are not going to have them.”

Little added that “Parliament and Parliamentary Services should be setting the example”.

According to The Herald, Prime Minister John Key asserted that he was not responsible for the employees in question, and was therefore unable to confirm whether they would fit within the areas of employment law that the Government is seeking to change.

“Where our real area of concern has been...is where there are predatory issues – where someone is actually stopped from working somewhere else because they are on a zero hour contract, it's where there are changes made to their hours very, very rapidly,” he explained. “I suspect that is probably not the case here in Parliament but I'm not responsible so I don't know.”

Key was asked if he would boycott Parliamentary catering services or the café until the contracts were altered.

“We will take action, we will put pressure where it needs to be put and following this through,” he said, adding that he would not take part in any boycott as it would be a “two-edged sword” and put jobs in jeopardy. 

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