Hospitality union calls for better pay, end to inconsistent working hours

Only about 3 percent of New Zealand's 100,000 hospitality workers are unionised.
Only about 3 percent of New Zealand's 100,000 hospitality workers are unionised. Photo credit: Getty Images

The union for hospitality workers has launched a campaign calling for an end to inconsistent working hours and stagnant wages.

Unite Union says employers have relied on high staff turnover for too long.

National secretary John Crocker said the extremely high turnover rate of hospitality staff was reflective of the industry's conditions.

"We know there are a lot of problems in hospitality and without many options, without a labour inspector, very little unionisation, a lot of people just vote with their feet when there's a problem."

He singled out poor wages, a lack of training, poor health and safety and the hours of work as being key issues.

Crocker said despite the current demand for hospitality workers some employers were not addressing the issues.

"Some are spending their time crying to the media, demanding more migrant workers when actually they should all just be improving terms and conditions and pay [of existing workers]."

A range of improvements needed to be made for hospitality workers including better pay, with the union seeking a living wage, he said.

Other issues including the need for better health and safety and tightening up hours of work as currently some workers did not even have a finish time when they started a shift, Crocker said.

Hospitality workers also had a very limited promotion path, he said.

"A lot of the skills that they develop are not recognised, almost no one gets any training from their employer, yeah people don't see a future and that's something we've got to change."

Generally hospitality workers have low guaranteed hours, but their rostered hours can be well above that, Crocker said.

"If they're not needed we see places close early and send their staff home - or ask them to stay late if it's busy, it's completely inconsistent."

Only about 3 percent of the country's 100,000 hospitality workers are currently unionised.

Crocker said it was difficult to establish a union presence due to the high staff turnover rate and because it was difficult to unionise a large number of small employers.

But he said the union was hoping to get campaign support from non-unionised hospitality workers as well.

The union would listen to workers and see what else they needed, he said.

The campaign is being run ahead of bargaining next year.