Zero hour contracts lose, MMP wins

MMP has worked well on the Employment Standards Legislation bill, with the very contentious zero hour contract provision being scrapped after negotiations and agreement with all parties except ACT.

The Government has called the changes minor while Labour and Greens are claiming a major victory. It was just MMP working as it should with most parties finding common ground they could agree with.

The Government was forced to negotiate changes after the Maori Party and Peter Dunne refused to support the original bill.

The bill passed a committee stage vote in Parliament yesterday 120 votes to 1 (Seymour).

Radio NZ: Green light for zero hours ban

As part of the deal to get the bill over the line, National and Labour struck a deal which means zero hours contracts will soon be a thing of the past.

The Employment Standards Legislation Bill is currently before Parliament, but must be passed before 1 April so the extension to paid parental leave can take effect.

The government yesterday said it would agree to support a Labour Party amendment which Labour said put in concrete that zero hours contracts would be banned.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said Labour’s support wasn’t essential:

But Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said the government would have got the numbers without Labour.

During the debate on the legislation, Mr Woodhouse told the House that getting the bill to a place where everyone could agree had been no mean feat.

Mr Woodhouse said the difficulties arose from getting the wording right and the fact that the term zero hours had no formal legal definition.

“Well I’m quite confident we’d have got the Maori Party over the line, they know how important this bill is for their people, particularly around paid parental leave for whangai, and I’m satisfied I was going to be able to get them over the line on zero hours as well.”

The Maori Party claim credit:

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said actually it was the hard work of his party that sealed the deal.

“It’s taken a fair bit of work sitting beside the minister, to work through some of the detail of it, particularly around the zero hours and I think we got to the right place.

“That’s important obviously they needed the votes and our votes have come in to be quite important but Labour has jumped on the bandwagon afterwards.”

Labour still claim a major victory:

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said New Zealand workers could now rest assured that they could not be compelled to turn up to work with no guaranteed hours.

Labour proudly took credit for forcing the changes, he said.

“This is a significant change in this piece of legislation. This government introduced legislation that would have entrenched the idea that an employer could tell a worker ‘you must turn up to work and I don’t have to give you work and you must meet all the costs of that’.

As do the Greens:

The Green Party was the only party that voted against the bill at first reading. Co-leader Metiria Turei said it could now support the legislation with the amendments.

“It is a massive win for workers, for unions and for those of us who worked to get rid of zero hours contracts, and a massive backdown for the government.”

Regardless of the political points claiming Woodhouse deserves credit for getting near unanimous support for what had been a very contentious bill.

But all the politicians were doing what should be their normal jobs.

The biggest winners are MMP and the people of New Zealand.

Parliament: The committee stage of the Employment Standards Legislation Bill was completed. The bill was divided into the following bills:

  • Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill
  • Employment Relations Amendment Bill (No 3)
  • Holidays Amendment Bill
  • Minimum Wage Amendment Bill
  • Wages Protection Amendment Bill


Leave a comment


  1. Kevin

     /  9th March 2016

    Predictable crowing here:

    I’m neutral towards the whole thing and haven’t really been following it closely. On the one hand I don’t like the State telling employers what they can and cannot do. On the other hand not allowing zero-hour contracts seems reasonable to me – a case of the right of the worker to be protected from exploitation overriding the right of the employer to choose zero hours.

  2. Must be a FIRST in over 7 long years.. ‘Team Key’ swallowing a ‘huge dead rat’ & voting with the opposition (SOP) to effectively stop ‘Zero-hour’ contracts !

    During the committee, ILG said these contracts gave the employer the power to ‘turn people into a possessions’ 😦
    This was followed up by calls for ALL employees to ‘JOIN a UNION’ to ensure further protections, from tyrannical bosses.

    “POWER to the PEOPLE !” sez I&I 🙂 🙂

  3. Zedd

     /  9th March 2016

    …. whats this… a deafening silence from the ‘Team Key’ Mob !? :/ 😀 LOL

  4. Zedd

     /  10th March 2016

    The 5 employment bills including this.. just past 3rd reading !
    I tautoko the word Marama Fox (maori pty) said “Hareruia !” (spelling ?)


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