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UFB contractors breach employment standards: MBIE

Paul Brislen, Editor. 08 October 2018, 5:17 pm

Nearly all of the sub-contractors working on the Ultra Fast Broadband project for Chorus have been found in breach of employment standards, according to a media release from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Chorus has contracted out its UFB work to three providers who in turn have contracted to around 900 sub-contracting firms, many of which employ migrant workers who are being exploited, says the Labour Inspectorate report.

"Breaches we observed to-date included contracting employers failing to maintain employment records, pay employees' minimum wage, holiday entitlements, and provide employment agreements.

"In a number of cases it was found that contractors deliberately used practices such as 'volunteering' or extended trial and training periods without pay."

Chorus, and the other Local Fibre Companies that won the contracts to provide fibre to the home, were warned of the lack of skilled staff available in New Zealand as far back as 2012 but suggested that they would simply require those firms that won the contracting rights to ensure work was of a certain standard.

Chorus installations, in particular, have come under fire for being shoddy in a number of different ways including the quality of the build and the time taken to install the connection. While the company appears to have cleaned up its act this latest accusation will do little to reassure the public about a project that should be a source of national pride.

As the MBIE release says:

"It's very disappointing that a national infrastructure project of this scale which is well resourced has failed to monitor compliance with basic employment standards.

"Despite earlier public assurances from Chorus that any breaches involving its contractors were isolated cases, the investigations and analysis to date demonstrates systemic failures in quality management,"


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