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".
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key had said the tea break aspect of the bill was being used to “frighten people”.
"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.
There was also a show of solidarity with tea-loving Kiwi workers from as far afield as London.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at email@example.com.
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