I screen shot ad, after ad, of farmers and hospitality workers offering below the minimum wage of $16.50, an hour and advertising blatantly, that they were openly going to breach minimum employment standards:
I decided I wanted to engage people in some direct action against these employers’ and I posted this status update to my Facebook:
Many people texted this employer informing her that she was in breach of employment law and that she needed to be aware that if she paid below the minimum wage, she would also be in engaged in wage theft. She responded saying that she had “been overseas visiting her sick mum and wasn’t aware of the minimum wage increase from $15.75 to $16.50. Bullshit. I penned a quick write up in-regards to what I had found on the BackPacking website:
'Why are employers’ arrogant enough to advertise that they pay below the minimum wage?'
On Wednesday the levies broke, and the media got hold of my story, (the day before I’d already spoken with RadioNZ about my findings), the story ran on RadioNZ in the morning, check it out:
Outrage at jobs below minimum wage: 'They're being exploited'
'NZ backpacker job board like 'the wild west'
My own campaign to name and shame hospitality and agricultural employers who are breaking employment law and underpaying their workers', was on the back of First Union's, own call to retail workers' to report wage theft. To Date, six massive retail chains have been exposed for breaching minimum standards of employment:
'Sixteen retail chains accused of underpaying staff'
I spent most of my Wednesday, talking to journalists and reporters about wage theft and employers breaching employment law, and I explained just how damn common and widespread employers behaving badly, really is. Here is my RadioLive interview with Lisa Owen’s and Ryan Bridges, discussing, workers rights and exploitation in Aotearoa:
Straight after my interview, an employer rang in to RadioLive, and publicly broadcasted over the Radio, that he paid his workers’ $15 an hour. Yep, yet another employer willing to go on the record and tell the world he is breaking the law.
Something I want to pick up on is, this: a lot of reporters and journalists who called me for interviews in-regards to illegal behaviour at the hands of employers, referred to these employers as “dodgy”. I think it is time we put down the soft language and call a spade a spade: their behaviour is criminal.
What they are engaged in is breaking the law, and the only reason why we use soft language like “breaching employment law” or “dodgy employers”, is because it falls into a category of white collar crime.
But it is a crime.
Paying workers less than the minimum wage, is a crime. Engaging in wage theft by refusing to pay workers' for 'work meetings', is a crime. Denying your workers their 8% holiday pay, is a crime. Refusing your workers their basic employment entitlements like breaks, is a crime. Treating your workers as slave labor and as sub-human, is a crime. And it also makes you an appalling human being who is acting like a sociopath. Fuck. You.
Employers who are engaged in any of this type of illegal and unethical behaviour, aren’t just “dodgy” it is outright illegal. It isn’t just a “breach” of the employment law it is “breaking the law”. Language, matters.
It’s time these employers, paid the price for their illegal and dehumanising behaviour which they have subjected hundreds-of-thousands of workers to, in our country. Workers’ have been paying the price for such behaviour for decades, and as far as I am concerned, #TimesUp.