Thank goodness I don’t have a fragile ego (if I have one at all). In the past two weeks, the Nats have block-voted against hearing submissions on a petition I championed signed by nearly 16,000 other New Zealanders and they have also introduced a Bill reducing the right for all NZ workers to have a meal break – undoing legislation passed under Labour, based on a members’ bill I drafted.
But this posting is not about my ego, because that’s not the reason I’m am MP (can’t speak for others). I’m not taking it personally. After all “its not about me.”
It is about the thousands of school support staff, social workers and other ordinary fair-minded New Zealanders who the National Government took deliberate action against by block-voting to ensure they didn’t have to justify the axing of pay equity investigations for these hard-working New Zealanders.
And it is about workers who’s health and safety will be put at risk if National goes ahead with its plans to give employers the specific right to require workers to attend to their duties during their meal breaks and rest periods.
It is highly unusual for a select committee to refuse to hear submissions on a petition – particularly one of that size. However, the Nats were prepared to sacrifice the democratic principles of select committee procedures so that they weren’t put in the embarrassing position of having to defend the indefensible.
The Minister of Labour has already admitted that the Pay and Employment Equity Unit was closed down by her against the advice of her Department of Labour officials. Maybe the Nats blocked the hearing of submissions on the petition because they were worried about what the DOL would say in its submission?
Whatever the reason, David Bennett, Jackie Blue, Tau Henare, Allan Peachey and Michael Woodhouse should hang their heads in shame as the MPs who voted to block submissions being heard.
I bet none of them admit to having prevented the petition from being heard the next time the turn up at their local schools for a visit.
As for the right to a meal break at work, I don’t know about you but when I’m flying, I wanna know that the person in the sole-charge regional control tower is well-rested, alert, hydrated and has reasonable blood-sugar levels when they are giving important information to the pilot of my plane.
The Nats though, are passing legislation to ensure that they have to work through meal and rest breaks and in the process are subjecting all other NZ workers to the same possibility.
Not the brighter future they promised really, is it?