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New Zealanders Lose Legal Right To "Tea Break" At Work, Anarchy Ensues

Milk, two sugars and a spoonful of industrial relations reform.

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The New Zealand government has stripped workers of their right to a tea break under a new industrial relations reform.

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill, the first bill passed by the conservative National party in their third term of government, survived a narrow 62 to 58 vote, reports the New Zealand Herald.

The legislation removes meal breaks, which had been guaranteed in law in 2008, in return for requiring employers to pay workers extra when breaks are not provided.

The National party argues the law will enable more flexibility in the labor market.

But the law has outraged unions, as well as the opposition Labour and Greens parties, because it weakens collective bargaining rights.

Before the vote, Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said the bill showed "outrageous disregard for the human condition".

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"There are some really practical examples of where people just say, 'I want to negotiate with my employer and get rid of that tea break,'" he said.

The Kiwi leader says most employers are unlikely to go to "war" over tea breaks with staff out of a desire to get on their good side, according to New Zealand's 3news.

"Post the passing of this law, will you all of a sudden find thousands of workers who are denied having a tea break? The answer is absolutely not."

Many Kiwis took to Twitter to collectively spit out their tea in shock and disgust.

#NationalParty does know if they take away tea breaks I'll probably end up sick or passing out from not eating food, right? #NewZealand

Mal@thee1997Follow

#NationalParty does know if they take away tea breaks I'll probably end up sick or passing out from not eating food, right? #NewZealand

2:15 AM - 30 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Outrage (riots, apocalypse) here in New Zealand after twelve minute 'tea-breaks' no longer a legal right http://t.co/l8AAuCsGjh

Natasha Frost@natashamfrostFollow

Outrage (riots, apocalypse) here in New Zealand after twelve minute 'tea-breaks' no longer a legal right http://t.co/l8AAuCsGjh

4:51 PM - 30 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

This #CoffeeSelfie goes out to the @NZNationalParty on my tea break.

Megapope@MegapopeFollow

This #CoffeeSelfie goes out to the @NZNationalParty on my tea break.

5:38 PM - 30 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

There was also a show of solidarity with tea-loving Kiwi workers from as far afield as London.

NZ's newly reelected National Party just passed a law getting rid of tea breaks. Frankly I don't know why the whole country's not on strike.

Janina Matthewson@J9andIfFollow

NZ's newly reelected National Party just passed a law getting rid of tea breaks. Frankly I don't know why the whole country's not on strike.

1:16 PM - 30 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.

Contact David Mack at david.mack@buzzfeed.com.

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