Burger King won't be allowed to hire migrant workers for a year (Image: Radio NZ – Calvin Samuel)

The Bulletin: Burger King hit with whopper hiring ban

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Regulator flame grills fast food company over minimum wage breaches, swampy rental property exposed, and dodgy door to door sales tactics revealed.

Burger King has been banned from hiring migrant workers for a year after being found to have breached minimum wage laws. Newshub reports that a salaried employee (on $39,500) was being made to work unpaid overtime, and when she tallied the hours up, it equated to less than minimum wage. Burger King’s parent company operates 83 outlets in New Zealand, and employs more than 2000 staff.

On Newstalk ZB, Unite Union’s Gerard Hehir noted that the worker – who was a manager – has also been paid out compensation. He says the union only has a handful of members who might be affected by the decision. While the worker in question wasn’t a migrant, the subsequent punishment was triggered automatically under new laws that came in last year.

The use of a ban on hiring migrant workers for employment law breaches is an interesting outcome, because it can potentially have unintended consequences. In part, those come back on the migrant workers themselves – Mr Hehir estimated that about 60 migrant workers at Burger Kings across the country might not now be able to renew their visas. But he said it does also send a message to companies who are hit with the bans that they need to clean up their act.

The reason the bans hurt companies that employ large numbers of migrant workers, is that they tend to be cheaper and in more precarious situations. Those have been the findings of reports in recent years, and even just this week, when a report came out showing Filipinos were being underpaid and exploited in the construction industry. Earlier this year Workplace relations minister Iain Lees-Galloway started an inquiry into conditions for migrant workers underway, and in the meantime, is urging them to join a union.


This is an astonishing story about a landlord neglecting to look after their tenants, from Radio NZ. A young family is paying $520 a week for a house that sits above a swamp, created by a dodgy drainage system that the landlord has done nothing about for more than a year. It’s making the family sick – one of the kids has just been hospitalised with bronchitis. Seeing is believing, and the horror is captured really well in the video package made by Zac Fleming and Nick Munro. (UPDATE) The NZ Herald got the first pictures of the swamp house, and the landlord told them he was aware of drainage issues at the house, but also directed them to put questions to his lawyer.

Meanwhile, Newstalk ZB is reporting on calls for a crackdown on property managers, from both tenants and landlords. The Anglican Advocacy report highlights some serious issues with the sector, and the report’s author says there needs to be better regulation.


Another good story about people being ripped off, from Stuff’s business section: A former door to door vacuum cleaner salesman has gone on record about the predatory tactics used to get people to sign contracts. That included finding people on low incomes with bad credit ratings, and falsely telling them that buying on credit (that often couldn’t be afforded) would boost their rating. The former salesman also said the elderly are targeted.


Labour has wrapped up an investigation into alleged sexual assaults at a party youth camp earlier this year, reports Radio NZ. A range of recommendations will also be implemented, after the party faced criticism for how it handled the allegations. A 20 year old man from Mt Roskill with name suppression is currently facing charges over the alleged assaults.


A proposed visa for climate change refugees has basically come to nothing, reports Stuff. It was announced for consideration last year, aimed at Pacific people whose home islands are threatened by rising sea levels. But a special visa is now seen as not being particularly meaningful for how climate change migrations will be dealt with.


Here’s an interesting update on the Kiwibuild programme from Newsroom, who have been told hundreds of unannounced houses are already being built. That’s because they’re being built by developers, and announcements are being held back so they line up with their schedules. National has criticised this method of acquiring houses towards the programme as being more like Kiwibuy, rather than Kiwibuild.


Free pantries of food have been popping up all over the country, reports One News. Known as Pātaka, the initiative first started in the Auckland suburb of Ōtara, and involves donated food, with locals invited to take what they need.


It’s the absolute last day for the referral competition, so get your signups in. One referral gets you a Spinoff pen, more gets you a signed copy of the Steven Adams/Madeleine Chapman book, and the most gets you a Simon Day special pie. I’ve tried a slice of that pie before and wow, it is well worth trying to win for a workplace shared lunch. The cutoff time for entries will be the moment tomorrow’s Bulletin is sent out.


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Right now on The Spinoff:  Duncan Greive writes about why the tech sector is so concerned about the possibility of Derek Handley being appointed the government’s Chief Technology Officer. Don Rowe investigates the use of child actors to sell scratchies, which has been labelled “baffling hypocrisy.” And there’s a new episode of New Zealand most irregular politics podcast – Gone By Lunchtime. It’s a fantastic episode too, so listen now while the reckons are still fresh.    


Here’s a fascinating feature from NZ Geographic about the Predator Free 2050 goal. It’s really a hugely ambitious target, in part because of New Zealand’s terrain – predators are deeply embedded in some difficult to reach places, which makes eliminating them a tough task. Dave Hansford has gone to Fiordland, following along with a pest trapping mission, to get a sense of the scale of the challenge. Here’s an excerpt: 
“It’s a steep scramble through dracophyllum, but I can follow nominal tracks left by penguins. The last trap has the dated remains of a stoat in it, which means the creature had paddled at least 800 metres across the narrows of Cunaris Sound, or maybe more than two kilometres from further shores. In either case, it was a routine paddle for this accomplished swimmer. We still don’t know just how far a stoat can swim, but in 2010, one was found on Kapiti Island, separated by five kilometres of turbulent sea from the Wellington mainland. In a 2013 study, a female stoat swam against a moderate current in a flume tank for nearly two hours without rest—the equivalent of dog-paddling 1.8 kilometres.

Farmers introduced stoats to New Zealand in the late 1880s to control rabbits, but stoats set about decimating native birds instead. Pioneer conservationist Richard Henry, curator of Mauikatau/Resolution Island, was the first to underestimate their swimming skills. A dejected entry in his diary from August 1900 notes they had reached the sanctuary he thought he’d made for kiwi and kākāpō.”


In football, time could be running out for mercurial Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. The BBC reports that the club is still backing him, despite a thrashing at the hands of Tottenham making a bad start to the season even worse. But despite Mourinho winning some minor trophies at Old Trafford in recent seasons, the vultures are circling around him, with one report from the Daily Mail suggesting he was one more loss away from getting the sack.

And in cricket, this is an amazing spray from Manawatū Standard columnist Peter Lampp, who is calling on the area to secede from the wider Central Districts provincial setup. Lampp has hit out at the complete lack of top domestic cricket in Palmerston North, in favour of Nelson, New Plymouth and Napier. Which, when put like that, the geographic spread of the team does seem pretty absurd.


From our partners: The chair of Vector’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Teina Teariki Mana, ponders the state of gender equity in an industry that still lags behind, and we hear about three women working in the male dominated work of energy generation and maintenance.


That’s it for The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, get them amongst our signup referral competition.


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