Parliament employs staff on zero-hour contracts

Labour says it will take action to stop staff working in Parliament on zero-hour contracts.

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

Labour leader Andrew Little said he understood the contractor is the Australian cleaning and catering company Spotless, and that the staff worked in catering.

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

Mr Little said he had written to the Speaker to express concern and would raise the issue in a meeting tonight.

"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'. That is the least they should be doing.

"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.

"We have [Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse] saying he's now looking at laws that will prohibit or outlaw them, Parliament and Parliamentary Services should be setting the example."

Mr Woodhouse has signaled his intent to see some of the harshest of the so-called zero-hour contracts outlawed.

Those included when people had to be available for work but were given no guaranteed hours of work, restraint of trade clauses, and the cancellation of shifts at short or no notice.

Prime Minister John Key said he was not responsible for the contracts under question in Parliament and was therefore unsure if they would fit within the areas of employment law the Government wanted 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.

"I suspect that is probably not the case here in Parliament but I'm not responsible so I don't know."

Asked if he would boycott Parliamentary catering services or the cafe until the contracts were altered, Mr Little said he would not.

Boycotts could be a "two-edged sword" and put jobs in danger, he said.

"We will take action, we will put pressure where it needs to be put and following this through."

By Nicholas Jones of the New Zealand Herald

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