Unite Launches Fair Pay Agreement for Hospitality

Unite union has launched its Fair Pay Agreement 4 Hospo campaign at its annual conference. Union members from around the country, almost all employed in hospitality, were joined by NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff, MPs Jan Logie (Greens) and Helen White (Labour) to achieve decent pay and conditions in the troubled sector.

According to Unite National Secretary John Crocker, the scale will be massive, covering 85,000-100,000 workers in hospitality - hotels, bars, restaurants, cafes, clubs, casinos, takeaways, recreation, and tourism. Those workers are employed by 20-25,000 separate employers.

While the actual final claims to be negotiated will only be known after the formal consultation process has started, the main issues are the same issues Unite has been working on for the past fifteen years, these include:

  • A Living Wage start rate (currently $23.65/hour)
  • Pay increase pathways
  • Access to quality, transferable training that results in increased pay
  • Secure hours and breaks
  • Robust and independent processes for dealing with bullying and sexual harassment
  • Proper Health and Safety reporting and resolution processes

Unite noted that while unpredictable demand requires flexibility, many hospo employers use zero-hour contracts in all but name - "guaranteeing" three or four hours to employees who regularly work 20-40 hours. It is also very common (and illegal) to have shifts with no end times specified.

Understaffing is a major ongoing issue and there needs to be agreed processes for setting and monitoring safe staffing levels, according to the Union.

Many of the issues identified should not be widespread as they are already prohibited under law. The reality is that without monitoring or explicit requirements to keep records they are simply ignored by many. Unite said its aim is to provide hospo workers and employers with clear guides on their obligations and, crucially, tools to monitor and fix non-compliance when it happens.

Currently, most issues are resolved simply by workers moving to other employment, reflected by a turnover rate of about 80 percent a year throughout the sector.

The Tourism Industry Transformation Plan, which Unite Union has been centrally involved in developing, includes a proposal for an accord which would set voluntary employment standards for businesses and drive transparency and awareness of workplace practices and standards.

Unite kicked off the process, with members signing forms to support the initiation of the Hospo FPA. Once the final legislation is passed the real consultation and bargaining can begin late this year and early 2023.