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Labour's contract worker bill defeated

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/08/2016

Labour's bill that would have ensured contract workers are paid the minimum wage has been defeated in parliament.

It passed its first and second readings, but United Future leader Peter Dunne withdrew his support and it was rejected by 61 votes to 60 at the end of a committee stage debate on Wednesday night.

That meant it wouldn't go on to a third reading, and is off parliament's agenda.

Labour MP David Parker drafted the bill.

He says many contract workers aren't protected by the provisions of the Minimum Wage Act, and often work for less than the statutory $14.75 an hour.

The government and employer organisations opposed it, saying it was overly prescriptive and would make many contracts unworkable.

Mr Dunne explained that while the intention of the bill was sound, he had decided it didn't provide the "appropriate mechanism" to protect contract workers.

He said he had talked to Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse, who had given him assurances that "meaningful steps" would be taken to address the issues around contract workers.

Mr Parker told NZ Newswire governments in other countries had recognised contract workers could be exploited.

He believed some good had come from his bill, even though it had been defeated.

"There's been a long debate and I think it's heightened awareness that there's something here that needs to be fixed." he said.

"The next Labour government will fix it."

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