Fast-food workers organised by the Unite Union have celebrated several victories in the fight against zero-hour contracts in New Zealand. Such contracts lock employees into permanent employment while denying them guaranteed hours of work. They are particularly common in the fast food industry.
After sustained pressure Restaurant Brands (KFC, Pizza Hutt, Wendy’s, Carl’s Junior) and Burger King have agreed to scrap zero-hour contracts. Even the right-wing government has been forced to voice opposition to the practice and has announced it will outlaw the worst elements of these contracts, such as restraint of trade clauses which make it illegal for an employee to seek other work in the same industry on days they are not rostered on.
Unite Union deserves huge credit both for organising workers in an industry that is characterised by high turn-over, low wages and bad bosses and also for running a strong campaign against zero-hour contracts that has captured the attention of all sectors of society in New Zealand. The real heroes of this battle though are the ordinary working people, mostly young, who have joined the union and dared to strike to win better working conditions.
By Joe Kelly