The government’s third and final reading of Employment Relations Bill (No 2) and Holidays Amendment Bill, which went through the House today means that unfair employment laws are on their way.
The government pushed through the final stages of two pieces of legislation that attack the rights of wage and salary earners. Both of these bills will impact on health and safety and the rights to challenge the decisions of employers in unjustified dismissals. They will inevitably reduce protections for all workers.
Labour strongly opposed both bills all through the process, along with thousands of submitters and 22,000 workers who marched, rallied and campaigned against them, but National ignored all opposition.
The only small ray of hope in the debate was that the Maori Party changed its mind and voted against the Holidays Amendment Bill. Good on them.
But the National Party couldn’t even do the third reading justice. Their members gave pitiful 3 minutes speeches parroting the government lines – which I thought was a disgrace.
I question whether today was an appropriate day to consider these bills, given the awful situation at Pike River Coal Mine. I don’t think the government gave any thought to the connection between the birth of the Labour Party and the role that miners have played in improving rights for all NZ workers. It certainly wouldn’t have considered that many of the miners on the West Coast are members of the EPMU and one of the missing men is an EPMU delegate.
Unfortunately, all workers will soon be facing the consequences of reduced rights. A sad day all round.