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Archive for the ‘90 day trial period’ Category

The polls that matter

Posted by on August 21st, 2011

Matt McCarten’s commentaries have often had me tearing my hair out.  I’ve known Matt longer than most, and I know he and I share the same views on many things, especially when it comes to low-income workers and the poor. Where we differ is how change can be achieved politically and that comes across in his criticism of Labour. I’m sure he’s aware that the right-wing repeat his every word when he criticises Labour, but I bet they don’t reproduce his NZ Herald column today.

Matt, like the other union delegates at the packed CTU Conference on Friday sat up and took notice when Phil Goff spoke.

Phil nailed it.  He nailed the feelings of worker representatives who have seen the cost of living increase, tax cuts for the rich and nothing for them and their families. He spoke to their concerns about their workmates and families operating under National’s changes to employment law.  He spelled out our agenda for real change, of which there is more to come. He sent a message to the mining families on the West Coast saying Labour’s not going to muck around with mine safety.  We’re going to do what’s needed.

He showed there is fire in the belly in the Labour leadership and the Labour Party.   He showed passion, empathy and warmth.

It was a good reminder not to get distracted by silly made-up stories about Labour’s leadership, and pollsters that can’t get to working people.  One delegate said his union had just finished stopwork meetings of 4,000 workers around the country and of these, only 4 had been polled in the last year.

The polls that matter can be found in the stories and conversations on the doorsteps and workplaces of  South and West Auckland, in Otara, Manurewa, Manukau East, Mangere and Ranui.

The polls that matter are the 350,000 workers and their families represented at the CTU conference on Friday.

EMA and the grievance “gravy train”

Posted by on June 28th, 2011

News out that Alasdair Thompson is clinging to his job.

EMA board chairman Graham Mountfort says “we are following a sound and thorough process as a responsible employer must.”

But it seems there’s one rule for the bosses’ organisation and one for the rest of the workforce. The EMA, and Alasdair have consistently moaned about the cost and process of personal grievances, yet this is exactly what the EMA is going through now.

Here’s the man himself on Q and A last year, at the time the government was planning to take away both the process and substance in the sacking of  thousands of workers:

ALASDAIR Process is important. But substance is most important.

PAUL What is difficult about the process?

ALASDAIR It is a difficult process, it is a difficult process – well it is, but I’m not saying process isn’t important, it is important. But if you’ve gone around – if you’re building a home for a Jewish person and you go writing swastikas all over the walls and so on or something like that, and it’s pretty obvious that that’s a pretty bad thing to do.

PAUL Yes, on your bike.

ALASDAIR Yeah, on your bike. But you still should get the process pretty much right. But the point is if you don’t get it 100% right you’re still pinged.

PAUL You could be forced to rehire the incompetent bloke……

ALASDAIR Not only rehire, but you get pinged for $30,000. (not true by the way : average settlement is around $3,000 for most workers)

I would have thought in this instance that the substance was pretty clear. But lawyers are involved. The exit package is being argued over and I bet you it will cost the EMA a lot more than $3,000, let along $30,000.

Alasdair had this to say a year ago last year in the NZ Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom:

Employers & Manufacturers (Northern) chief executive Alasdair Thompson said many members wanted the grievance-free employment period extended to all businesses, though it was less applicable to those employing highly educated, skilled workers.

“This is not new. In the private sector the personal-grievance gravy train is something that needs continual reforming.”

I watch with interest how the EMA handles this situation. They have to follow fair process (even although they disagree with it) and I venture to suggest that one of the problems of the so-called “personal grievance gravy train” might rest with organisations like their own, where well paid executives use the system to extract as much money as they can.

Wasn’t it the National Government who extended personal grievances to all employees – including Alasdair Thompson?

When being a union member makes a difference

Posted by on May 25th, 2011

The Guardian has an instructive article on the rights of abused workers in the States. It is based on the current Strauss-Kahn case and shows the danger of unfair dismissal laws of the type Kate Wilkinson and John Key aspire to.

One very important fact has been largely absent from the coverage of the sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and, until latterly, leading candidate to be the next president of France. The hotel housekeeper whom he allegedly assaulted was represented by a union.

The reason that this is an important part of the story is that it is likely that Strauss-Kahn’s alleged victim might not have felt confident enough to pursue the issue with either her supervisors or law enforcement agencies, if she had not been protected by a union contract. The vast majority of hotel workers in the United States, like most workers in the private sector, do not enjoy this protection.

This isn’t fair

Posted by on April 5th, 2011

In my in-box today, more stories about abuses of the 90 day no rights law.

I’m sharing one of them, as hopefully, it might stimulate some discussion about the realities of what the government has imposed on ordinary NZ workers. I’m hoping that the Kiwi values of fairness and justice might activate some real concern about what is being unleashed on New Zealand’s workforce.

James (not his real name) was previously working on a 6 month job scheme. He had been there 5 ½ months when Work and Income found him a full time job. The first afternoon at his work he had an accident – he squashed his finger between a log and a concrete wall, resulting in two breaks. He nearly lost his finger, but surgeons managed to save it.

James was given a medical certificate for one week and there was a verbal agreement with his employer that he could go on light duties until the injury was healed. James was told he would be trained for the retail side of work as long as he got a medical certificate.

James’ GP gave him a medical certificate for 6 weeks light duties. When he handed in this certificate to his employer, he was told “sorry – we need someone in the mill,” and he was laid off.

His letter of dismissal says that : 

“As you are unavailable to resume full duties….. and are in your three month trial period, I am unable to hold your position for that lenght of time due to production demands in the factory.”

Next day, the job that James could have done was advertised in the newspaper.

Funny thing : James didn’t sign any contract agreeing to a 90 day trial period. Yes, there’s a legal argument about James’ situation.  He could pursue it legally, if he can gather the resources and legal costs involved. 

But the question is how does he feed his family until he finds other work?

James is highly motivated to find work in his community where unemployment is high. He’s not unreasonable.  In fact, he was really pleased to get off a work scheme and into a genuine job.

But his employer exposed him to injury on his first day of work and James is paying the price.

Bottom line, the 90 day no rights period gives his employer an out and unless James is determined, unless James can jump through legal hoops, unless James can convince Work and Income and ACC that his case is legitimate, he and his family will bear the cost.

This isn’t fair.

Good employers don’t need bad laws

Posted by on April 1st, 2011


It’s the 1st of April – April Fool’s Day, but no joke for New Zealand’s wage and salary earners.

From today, it is easier to fire workers.

 Changes to employment laws will allow any new worker to be unfairly dismissed in the first 90 days of employment with no reason having to be given and no ability for the worker to challenge the dismissal. 

The changes in the Act are significant. It’s the first time in decades that workers will not have access to justice if they are fired unfairly.  Even under Bill Birch’s hated Employment Contracts Act 1991, this was not a option.

The introduction of fire at will, restrictions on the right of workers to meet with their union representatives, along with other changes to personal grievances and the Holidays will not improve the productive employment relationships of well-organised employers.

Many employers are saying they don’t want or need these changes because good employers don’t need bad laws.  Some have already negotiated collective agreements with unions that exclude the use of 90 day no rights provisions, and continues the reasonable arrangement they have had for access to the workplace.

Telecom says they have chosen not to implement the 90 day trial period, saying “if people have performance issues during the first 90 days we will work with them in trying to fix those issues….”

So the governmment is really just giving a hand-up for disorganised, incompetent employers.

Pushing mud uphill

Posted by on January 19th, 2011

No this isn’t a post about gumboots.

I was contacted today by a significant social service agency, which provides training courses in Dunedin and around the country and other important social services to the disadvantaged and those in need.

He told me Paula Bennett’s goal of getting 30,000 people off the unemployment benefit was already putting unbearable pressure on training providers; there weren’t the jobs for them to go to and it was cementing an underclass of people who were being further rejected by our system.

They are in a real bind, because they’ve been told by the government that to keep their course funding they have to deliver training courses to people, place them into jobs which they must keep for 91 days.

They’ve had to change the way they deliver their courses, the time period of those courses and who they can offer them to.

And they’re really concerned. They know they now have to turn away the people with the greatest need; the long term unemployed, those with physical disabilities, mental health issues, drug and alcohol dependencies and criminal records.

These are the very people this organisation was established to help.

And they believe that they won’t be able to meet the new government targets: to ensure that 62% of all people who finish the course remain in a job 30 hours per week for 91 days. Previously the criteria was  to get people into jobs (it didn’t matter how many hours a week) for 60 days. Which was reasonable.

Why 91 days? Because it’s one day longer than the 3 month stand down period imposed by the government, which means a new employees can be dismissed with no reason during the first 90 days.

There is a widespread belief that many employers are hiring people for shorter periods and dismissing them.

So training courses right across the country are under threat. As well as the small matter of not enough jobs for these people to be put into.

What is this government thinking? The liklihood of finding enough 30 hour/week jobs is unlikely, let alone the prospect of  employers who will  keep people in these jobs for 91 days.

This organisation, which is extremely reputable and has been around for a long time, believes it is being set up to fail and is pushing mud uphill.

These are strong words.

Where’s the imagination?

Posted by on January 12th, 2011

My post on the CTU’s Job Survivor website provoked some interesting responses. It was gratifying to see that some (including those in business) don’t automatically go to the default position that for business to do well, workers’ rights must be curtailed.LuckyToWorkHere

So thank you – your responses inspired me to write more and I want to see more of this debate in New Zealand.

But where are the imaginative and creative business leaders in NZ when we need them?

I know they’re there, but I wish they would speak out. Some businesses tell me they are keeping their heads down on the government’s anti-worker policies, even although they don’t agree with them.

Others have already negotiated sensible arrangements with unions around access and the 90 day no rights period, saying they don’t want or need these kind of policies to be good at what they do.

New Zealand’s law extending the no rights period of 90 days to all workplaces has yet to take effect, but those without imagination are eyeing David Cameron’s proposal to extend UK’s no grievance period to two years. The justification from David Cameron sounds very familiar, with him claiming that  increasing the no rights period means that “employers will take the risk of taking someone on” .

But in the UK, they have a 12 month no rights period already. Has it created more employment?  Apparently not. PM David Cameron “hopes” that  relaxed employment laws will help to boost the private sector and encourage firms to take on thousands of new workers. He’s also proposing that small firms will be exempt altogether from some employment laws, such as sick pay and workers who pursue a claim of unjustified dismissal in the UK Tribunal will have to stump up with 500 pounds.

And guess what?  David Cameron’s having a Job Summit!  Don’t he and John Key talk anymore?

I’m sympathetic to small business – I’ve been there, done that, and yes, it’s tough. I’ve also been an employer and I know it’s not always easy. From time to time, there is conflict. But I believe that workers’ rights, inconvenient as they can be, are a check on management, and a challenge to an employer to do their job better too. No employer should be afraid of them and in many ways, they protect them ads well.

Because the truth is that workers will always find a way to resist unfair work practices, because they are human beings, not commodities. Why would they sit quietly when they don’t earn enough to feed their families, are exposed to injury or unfairness from their employer?

In the end, most of us want the same thing.  A fair society, decent work and a chance to get ahead. Most NZers don’t think this should happen at the expense of other people.  We still believe in a fair go for all – we still reach out to our neighbours to give them a helping hand when they need it.

And surely few of us believe that greed is good.

So, wouldn’t it be great to see an outburst of ideas from those in NZ who believe we can build a better economy through ideas and innovation, rather than squashing what after all are pretty modest rights for workers in New Zealand.

Many have joined Labour’s conversation. They don’t want last century thinking. It failed to grow our economy then and it will fail now.

Job Survivor Island

Posted by on January 12th, 2011

jobsurvivorAccording to Labour Department research, one in five workers could be fired under the government’s extension to its 90 day no rights law, due to commence on 1 April. So, the CTU has set up Job Survivor Island, where you can choose which one of five workers should be fired and sent from the island. But, they warn, don’t think about it too hard because you don’t actually need a reason to sack them thanks to the government’s new employment law. However, the site does give an alternative to taking the low road and I hope lots of employers read and think about these options.

Not looking good for State Sector workers either, with the government insisting that this “voluntary” law be imposed in every State Sector agreement.

So much for the promises of Minister Wilkinson.

2010 issues for 2011

Posted by on January 5th, 2011

We are all hoping for a better year in 2011. I want to be optimistic about it, but there’s some 2010 issues that are not going to go away (and nor should they) just because it’s 2011.

I believe they will test the government even more this year and John Key’s smile and wave response to the max. None of them will surprise you, but feel free to add more.

–   Pike River Coal Mine disaster : The sadness and anger at the loss of lives will continue through 2011 as the inquiry picks its way through the tragedy of 29 dead miners. The now jobless West Coasters will do it hard. Answers to some tough questions will be demanded and it won’t be pretty.

–   Canterbury Earthquake – Many Christchurch families are still struggling in temporary accommodation, businesses are still going broke and workers losing their jobs. 8000 EQC claims have been turned down and the Xmas aftershocks won’t have helped. Great to be heroes in the immediate aftermath, but we’re into the hard stuff now. The government will be pushed a lot more about its support to the region.

–    Employment law changes : – rammed through under urgency, with still many questions unanswered about the impact of the law. Every day I hear a story of worker dumped under a 90 day trial period and once it applies to everyone from 1 April, look out. We still don’t know why the Minister chose to ignore Cabinet advice that there shouldn’t be any access restrictions where health and safety is involved – the Minister may well regret this.

–    The Hobbit – if the government thinks no-one noticed that it sold out a whole category of workers to please an American company, it’s got another think coming. Complaint to the ILO anyone?

–    A tanking economy – with pre Xmas redundancies in the Wood and Meat Industries. But the government has little faith in our NZ workforce and is unprepared to invest in NZ jobs so that instead we have China making new locomotives for New Zealand use, putting good jobs on the line in Dunedin’s Railway workshops.

– Cost of living increases, already being harshly felt by those with the least. The tax cuts (for those who got them) will have receded in voter’s minds and austerity will become a word the government uses as its excuse for poor economic management and no plan.

–    ACC changes legislated for earlier in 2010 now having an impact. The scandal around sensitive claims was one thing, but more claims will be denied due to “degenerative disease”  and the impact of the 6% threshold for hearing loss claims will hit the headlines. Privatisation on the election agenda.

–    Cuts to Early Childhood Education – just starting to be felt in late 2010 with more to come in early 2011. Families are already grumpy about this, but the government hasn’t seen the half of it.

And before any of you ask, what’s Labour going to do, I think Phil Goff said it very succinctly in his NZ Herald interview yesterday :

We’re looking at active management of the New Zealand economy to perform better for New Zealanders, to lift wages and to create jobs, none of which the Government has done. We are looking at other small countries that have done so much better than New Zealand in their economic development – Denmark, Finland, Singapore, Israel – smart economies. We will be looking at skill development, at R&D, at better savings and investment track records and being a clean, green clever economy, by contrast to what the Government has done. The closer we get to the election, the more you’ll see the detail, but a lot of that will be in the broad campaign period, the last three months.

Happy New Year – I really mean it.  Rest up for a little longer if you can, because there’s a lot of work to do.

Unfairness on its way

Posted by on November 23rd, 2010

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.

Too much sauce and aioli

Posted by on November 12th, 2010

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill No 2 (in other words, the no rights in 90 days bill) began its second reading in the House yesterday.  Here’s Aaron’s story about how it has affected him.

A government with its ears tight shut

Posted by on November 3rd, 2010

Surprise, surprise, the Government has completely ignored the submissions and protests of those opposing changes to the Employment Relations and Holidays Acts.

The Select Committee has reported back on the two bills and have recommended almost no changes. In the Employment Relations Bill No 2, the extension of the 90 day no rights trial periods to all workplaces, the restricting of workers to their unions at work and the weakening of personal grievance provisions remain.

In the Holidays Amendment Bill, employers will still be able to demand a medical certificate for a single day’s absence (one of the more silly provisions that I really thought the government might ditch) and the sale of the fourth week’s annual leave and the weakening of rights around alternative statutory holidays will go ahead.

What’s annoying is while the government’s is prepared to rush through bad employment law under urgency to please an international corporation, they are not prepared to listen to the 8,000 people who took the trouble to make submissions opposing these two bills, or to the 22,000 workers who rallied across New Zealand a couple of weeks ago.

There’s nothing about these changes that will improve productivity or enhance workplace relationships. There’s nothing here that will help our wages keep pace with, let alone catch up with Australia.  This is a feeble attempt to please employers and business at the expense of some pretty fundamental rights. 

The only possible message for Kiwi workers from this is that the government has its ears tight shut when it comes to their issues – unless they want their ideas and help to get through a recession.

The H word

Posted by on October 20th, 2010

Today is an important day for wage and salary earners in New Zealand as they come out in rallies across the country protesting against the government’s determination to drive through unnecessary and unfair changes to industrial and holiday laws.

Update : By lunchtime today, 15,000 workers had attended rallies across NZ in the biggest protests against a government’s attacks on workers rights in more than a decade.  Thousands more are expected to come out during the afternoon. 

But while we’re waiting for reports on their action, here’s an ironical story (or some might use the word we are not allowed to use in parliament, the “h” word) about government members on the Select Committee in charge of the bills that workers are protesting about today.

Yesterday, National MP Tau Henare was publicly refusing to apologise for calling a teenage select committee submitter “a liar”, after he attacked James Sleep, 18, in his submission to the Transport & Industrial Relations Select Committee on the 90 day no rights bill.

James didn’t lie. I know, because I was there. He got one detail in his oral and written submissions a little bit mixed up. All Tau had to do was clarify, but instead, he called James a liar, and a bullshitter. And he’s gone further in the media saying :

Why would I apologise for a little turkey who got found out lying? He was reading out a submission and I was following it and in two parts … it was a completely different story.

He’ll get over it and if he doesn’t, well, then, too bad … He’ll learn from his experience.”

But then there is the NDU member, who had her first ever written submission to the committee sent back to her because, according to the Government members on the Select Committee, she made an “offensive comment”, which was :

Can we put John Key on a 90 day trial and sack him after the 89th day?

What?  It sounds like an absolutely fair point to me – whereas Tau Henare has used his power as a government member of a Select Committee to harass a  young person who had the gumption to show up and make a submission.

It’  s probably lucky the NDU member ddidn’t have to front the committee, because goodness only knows what would have happened to her.

Submission from AFFCO/Talley’s

Posted by on October 6th, 2010

Today was the final day hearing submissions on the Employment Relations and Holidays Bills.  And it ended with the most extreme submission received from employers – good old Talley’s – now AFFCO -TGL. That’s Talley’s, who locked out workers for six weeks at Open Country Cheese recently and who defied Employment Court orders.  That’s Talley’s, who in the 1990’s was of the only employers (or perhaps the only) who had a ruling saying their contract was harsh and oppressive – and that was under the Employment Contracts Act!  That’s Talley’s, whose employment relations views haven’t come into the 20th century, let alone the 21st.

I think this video from the SFWU website sums it up pretty well .

more, More, MORE

Posted by on September 30th, 2010

While Red Alerters have been debating tax and GST this week, Carol Beaumont and I have been wading through the submissions to the Select Committee on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill and Holidays Bill.

Yesterday and today were long days with submissions from a mix of employers, unions and individual workers.  What’s disappointing is how employers seem to go onto autopilot – not only supporting National Party legislation, but wanting more still.

After weeks of the Minister of Labour claiming that the 90 day trial period is “voluntary” and that “employees don’t need to have a trial period if they don’t want one” her business supporters are saying that’s not enough.

Business New Zealand, EMA, the Hospitality Association, Air NZ, the Meat Industry Association, Ports of Auckland and a whole raft of other employers are saying the 90 day trial period should be the default provision for every worker in New Zealand.

What that means is your job will be subject to the 90 day trial automatically.

Depressing.  I often wonder if employers actually think, because if they did, they would know that this is not the way to productive workplaces and closing the wage gap with Australia.

However, there’s been some lighter moments.  Our Chair, David Bennett is struggling with the notion of unions and their role, even although the whole basis of the Employment Relations Act is around building productive employment relationships through good faith, trust and confidence and the promotion of collective bargaining.

His boss, John Key is quite happy to recognise unions as “social partners,” to engage with them to tap into the ideas of workers to get the economy through a recession.  The Government (along with Business NZ) confidently fronts up to the ILO every year and boast about NZ’s tripartite relationships – yet Mr Bennett thinks that unions are like lawyers – offering a service – and as such, should have no “special” rights.

Clearly, such old thinking is still alive and well in the National Party.

The consequence of the radical change in the early 1990s and the low levels of unionisation and collective bargaining is that New Zealand now has a thriving employment law industry with literally thousands of lawyers – all of them making good money out of employment relations.

We’ve heard from some of them on the select committee and while I have respect for their profession, quite frankly, few of them have a clue about the day to day relationships that are needed in the workplace to make it operate productively.

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill (No 2) and the Holidays Amendment Bill are a lawyer’s gold chest. I predict we’re going to see quite a few more of them in the Employment Authority and Employment Court in the coming years if these bills go ahead.

I knew Kiwis believed in fairness

Posted by on September 19th, 2010

A UMR survey released today by the CTU shows that 80 per cent of New Zealanders oppose the Government’s planned changes to dismissal law.  Previous polls had asked the question about whether respondents supported a 90 day trial and unsurprisingly, the majority said yes – because after all these were already allowed under previous law.

But the government’s proposed changes in the Employment Relations Bill (No. 2) remove the right of all workers to be told why they have been sacked and to challenge that reason (among other things).  As the Human Rights Commission told  the Select Committee last  Thursday  :

It is unusual for Parliament to take away rights, particularly such a fundamental right as the right of access to a hearing. Denial of redress in this manner in something as basic as employment has profound human rights implications.

The UMR Research telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 750 New Zealanders asked the following question:

“Do you think that all employees should have the right to appeal if they think they have been unfairly dismissed, even if their dismissal was during the first 90 days of their employment?

The response was:

Yes                             80%

No                               18%

Unsure                          2%

Submissions have already begun on this Bill and will continue day and night over the next few weeks to allow the large number of submitters to be heard.  Even then, thousands of what the government calls “form” submissions and those who have gone to the trouble to add comments will be ignored.

I agree with the CTU that the government needs to rethink this policy.  People from across the spectrum of incomes, ages, regions and occupations strongly oppose what the Government is doing and that’s not surprising.  This law offends against the basic Kiwi value of fairness and access to justice.

ACT rolled the Minister of Labour’s recommendation that the  90 day no rights trial period be limited to workplaces of 50 or less and won an extension of it to all workplaces.  Surely, now ACT is so discredited, the government can afford to be brave enough to revisit this policy and do the right thing by Kiwis?

Will submissions change the government’s mind?

Posted by on September 15th, 2010

According to the CTU, an estimated 6000 submissions have been forwarded on the government’s antiquated Employment Relations Amendment Bill (No 2) to the Transport & Industrial Relations Select Committee.

This is the bill that :

• Extends the 90 day no rights trial period to all workplaces

• Restricts the right of workers to have access to their unions at work

• Weakens fair processes where workers actually manage to get a grievance hearing

among other things.

Submissions hearings begin tomorrow in Wellington, and are likely to take up a lot of time in the next few weeks.  The Select Committee will travel to other places (to be determined) and also meet during House Sitting time to get through the very tight timeframe of reporting back the bill by 7 November.

I’ve read some of the submissions so far and the arguments are comprehensive and convincing.  With unions planning a national day of action in October, it will be interesting to see if the National Government members, who have the majority on the committee, are prepared to listen – and if necessary convince their Minister to change her mind.

We’ll see – but not holding my breath.

These are public hearings, so come along if you can.

Have your say at Select Committee – just kidding!

Posted by on August 27th, 2010

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.