The most significant changes to workers’ rights in two decades are coming our way via the Employment Relations Amendment Bill (No 2), and the Holidays Amendment Bill, which had their first readings in parliament in the last few days.
So, you would think that the government would want New Zealanders (both for and against) to have their say.
Not so, it seems.
The two bills have been referred to the Transport & Industrial Relations Select Committee, who had, according to the Chair David Bennett, decided “informally” to call for submissions, even prior to the conclusion of the first readings in parliament.
(Disclosure : I am a member of this Select Committee, where Labour and the Greens are in the minority, so I know what really happened, but I can’t say so publicly).
The timeframe for the submissions for these two bills is at best three weeks, with closing dates on the 13 September and 17 September respectively.
I would have thought the government would be keen to ensure all of support they claim to have had around the 90 day fire at will extension, the sickies get-to-the-doctor-or-else provision and the selling of holidays were able0 to be presented at Select Committee.
Or should I be more cynical? Is the short timeframe really designed to make sure that unions and workers have as little time as possible to have their say?
If the government really believes there is support for these changes, they would have given more time for submissions.
But then there’s ACT calling the shots and National meekly following on behind. I forgot that Minister Kate Wilkinson got rolled at Cabinet (again) over her recommendations.