Chorus and its service companies Visionstream and UCG have committed to a wide range of actions aimed at creating consistently fair conditions, in line with employment laws, for all workers in the Chorus supply chain.
The commitments are the response to the findings and recommendations of the independent review undertaken by MartinJenkins on Chorus' behalf. The review was commissioned in October last year after the Labour Inspectorate identified a number of breaches of employment law amongst small businesses sub-contracted to Visionstream and UCG.
The implementation of the changes is already underway
“Chorus' Board and management are committed to doing the right thing by people working on our behalf, including those who have come to New Zealand to build a better life for themselves and their family,” said Chorus' chairman Patrick Strange.
“While the report finds the vast majority of employment law breaches were low level, the way the supply chain is set up means it could still be vulnerable and this will be fixed.”
Chorus' CEO Kate McKenzie has outlined the key findings of the report, “The report finds that the use of a sub-contracting model to deliver UFB was appropriate and that the use of migrant workers was expected and reasonable given the significant demand for labour and the time-limited and one-off nature of the work required.
“The success of UFB, and meeting the huge demand for fibre at a time of near full employment in New Zealand, led to a substantial change in the mix of the sub-contractors working on our behalf, with more sub-contracted migrants and small businesses than before,” she said.
“Overall the new workers have been great additions to the workforce, bringing their much-needed skills to our country, while lifting our productivity and quality. However, the change in the mix of workers did change the risks associated with our supply chain."
“Chorus, Visionstream and UCG needed to step up what we were doing in order to identify and mitigate the risk of breaches in employment law, which can be very difficult to identify, particularly when working with migrants."
“We underestimated that risk as it emerged, instead focusing on productivity, health and safety and quality. When issues arose we relied too heavily on the assurances given, which are not appropriate checks in a situation where there are large numbers of migrants."
“We will make the necessary changes to ensure fairness in line with employment laws no matter where in the supply chain workers are contributing. We know that Chorus is not alone in facing supply chain challenges, so we are also working to share what we learn with other businesses and government to help inform wider policy choices,” she said.