6 Sep 2013

Cleaners worried about their jobs

7:55 pm on 6 September 2013

Cleaners in Canterbury have told MPs they are worried they will lose their jobs if proposed changes to employment law go ahead.

A Parliamentary select committee is hearing submissions in Christchurch on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill.

Brenda Walsh, who represents cleaners working for the Canterbury District Health Board, is worried about possible changes to Part 6a of the Act.

The section means businesses with fewer than 20 workers that win a new contract have to retain cleaners employed by the previous contract holder.

The proposed changes would mean those companies can get rid of workers they have inherited.

Ms Walsh said her employer had changed cleaning contracts nine times during her 12 years of work.

She broke into tears while making her submission and pleaded with MPs to keep Part 6a as it is.

Meanwhile, a social worker who deals with people with mental health problems, Elizabeth Hau, told MPs that a move to make tea breaks more flexible would result in many people not getting one at all.

Ms Hau is worried that will make workers more prone to fatigue and mistakes.

She said the changes would also erode employees' rights to manage personal matters, such as quake insurance claims, during the day, putting additional stress on them.