The Maritime Union has savaged a Government plan to reduce holidays for New Zealand workers by permitting “cash ups” of the fourth week of annual leave.
Maritime Union of New Zealand General Secretary Trevor Hanson says that the plan will effectively force ordinary workers to give up a weeks holiday while permitting well-paid executives and managers to spend more time at the beach.
“Perhaps some will enjoy their time at their Hawaiian condominiums like Mr Key.”
“The result of this plan is simple. Well-off managers will continue to enjoy four or more weeks leave, whereas the majority of New Zealand workers struggling with low wages will be forced to give up precious family and personal time to make ends meet.”
Mr Hanson says the Prime Minister is being dishonest to say all workers will have choice in the matter.
“One thing we have found is that these so called optional choices always become compulsory for the most vulnerable, the lowest paid, the ordinary workers, who always end up having to settle for the worst deal.”
Mr Hanson says the idea of a holiday is to have a break, spend time with family, and recharge the batteries.
He says it is ludicrous that in the 21st century, with productivity rising and a high technology economy, that people were actually working longer hours than in the past.
“A generation ago, a one income family was the norm. Now most families are struggling on two incomes, many workers are on long hours or shift work, and this is having a massive negative impact on family life and community life.”
“We’ve lost the idea of working to live, now for most workers it is about living to work.”
Mr Hanson says he directly attributes the rise in stress related social problems, family breakup, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, crime and decline of community involvement to a deliberate culture of overwork and long hours fostered by employers and right wing Governments.
“They don’t want to know. As long as their profits and dividends are rolling in, the National Party and its friends do not give a stuff about the hard working Kiwis whose labour keeps the nation going.”
He says the share of wealth that goes to workers who produce it has declined in recent decades meaning workers were working harder, producing more but “getting a shrinking slice of the pie.”
“At the end of the day, profit and money is just a tool, and should serve the working people, not the other way round.”
Mr Hanson says many workers will be fighting to get any wage increase at all this year, and with major rises in the cost of living would be forced to cash up their leave.
“We are concerned workers will be panicked into accepting rotten deals under the impression this will save their jobs, when many companies will still be making good profits, and managers and MPs will still collect the usual fat increases and bonuses.”
Mr Hanson says the only alternative is for workers to fight to defend their hard won rights and conditions.
He says the Key “vanishing holiday” plan seems to be driven by a moralistic punishment ideology that workers had it too good and should spend their lives nose to the grindstone.
“In most of the successful developed nations around the world, workers enjoy longer holidays than in New Zealand. We need to have a better distribution of wealth, of jobs, better education and throw out the outdated, backward idea that long hours create a better life.”