Cleaning company campaigns online

By Kate Shuttleworth

Grant McLauchlan of Crest Commercial Cleaning. Photo / Supplied
Grant McLauchlan of Crest Commercial Cleaning. Photo / Supplied

A Dunedin-based cleaning company has taken its campaign online saying part of the Employment Relations Act is failing businesses - the site called "vulnerable minister" targets Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson.

Crest Commercial Cleaning launched the website last week after three years of lobbying the Government to change part 6A of the ERA, which was set up to protect 'vulnerable' contract workers.

Under the law if a business changes its contract, 'vulnerable workers' are given the right to transfer their employment under the same terms and conditions - the outgoing contactor has a month to notify the new contractor if employees want to transfer.

Crest managing director Grant McLauchlan said the legislation was ambiguous and needed clarity.

He said his company were finding out the day before it took over a new contract.

"We want to be told in due course, because we get to the last day and don't know if people are electing to transfer - we are left not knowing if we need to recruit our own people.

"It's so ambiguous, and every time we try and work it out we end up in the employment court.

"There's no obligation on the outgoing contractor or the employees to inform the new transfer until the last day that these employees want to elect to transfer," he said.

Mr McLauchlan launched the site with a Peter Bromhead cartoon of Ms Wilkinson resting on a question mark.

The site says part 6A of the ERA is a roadblock to business confidence and growth.

A spokeswoman for the minister said the minister had considered the review of part 6A as part of a raft of improvements to the ERA. "These are now going through the Cabinet process and will be announced once Cabinet has made final decisions."

Labour Party's labour spokeswoman Darien Fenton said Crest Commercial Cleaning were out on a limb.

"They are set up as a franchise so it gets in the way of their business model."

Jill Ovens, of the Service and Food workers Union said its members were entirely supportive of the part 6A and did not want to see touched.

She said previous legislation workers were not protected when a contract changed and now workers were protected.

Mrs Ovens did not agree that outgoing contractors and workers were not informing incoming contractors they wanted to transfer.

SFWU campaigned for part 6A of the ERA and would campaign for it to be extend it to include security staff.

Part 6A of the ERA 2000 was created to provide protection to certain employees if, "as a result of a proposed restructuring, their work is to be performed by another person".

The Act covers industries such as cleaning, and food and laundry services, which are subject to frequent contract changes which leave employees vulnerable to restructuring or redundancy.

When a client changes the company it contracts for services such as cleaning the workers can elect to transfer to the other person as employees on the same terms and conditions of employment.


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