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Govt already in ‘holiday mode’ on $2.3b owed to Kiwi workers

The Government is dragging its feet while working New Zealanders are still missing up to $2.3 billion collectively owed to them through underpaid holiday pay entitlements, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says.

“The cover was blown on this issue in September last year yet today at the Commerce Select Committee, MBIE chief executive David Smol conceded that the Government has no timeline for fixing the problem of up to $2.3 billion in underpaid wages in New Zealand workplaces.

“Steven Joyce was briefed in September last year on the possibility that as many as one in four working New Zealanders had been underpaid Holidays’ Act entitlements over the past six years.

“The Government is out of touch if it thinks working New Zealanders don’t care about being underpaid by thousands of dollars. Yet it has failed to heed official advice that it could set up an independent agency to resolve the underpayment issue.

“Working New Zealanders should expect to be paid the full amount they are due according to the law

“Steven Joyce has swept this issue under the carpet since his government amended the legislation in 2010. With Christmas just around the corner, New Zealanders deserve to know when they’ll get their true entitlements.

“If he is crowned Finance Minister, he will know the scale of the employee rip-off and the failure of his Government to adequately support employers who have inadvertently accrued the liability.

“Most embarrassing is the fact that his own Ministry remains in breach of the law it is responsible for enforcing. In March this year, the Minister said he hoped the problem at his own Ministry would be resolved by the end of this year. Today we learnt that the Ministry now ‘hopes’ to resolve the internal issue by June 2017.

“This is banana republic stuff. The Government knows New Zealanders have been underpaid for the past six years. It had failed to ensure the law is upheld, and it cannot even say when it is going to fix it,” says Dr Clark.