Red Alert

Archive for the ‘non standard work’ Category

Dog Eat Dog

Posted by on May 20th, 2012

Last week’s ACTU congress had a focus on insecure work, with their independent report (Lives on Hold, Unlocking the Potential of Australia’s Workforce) taking centre stage. It’s a thoughtful and well researched contribution to the increasing use of non standard work, and the alienation of so many workers from that basic value we share with Australia : a fair days pay for a fair days work.

There’s so much in this report that would ring bells in New Zealand. Here’s what Kathy says :

“I have had 40 jobs with 20 different agencies/ labour hire over the past year. They tell me it could lead to permanent employment but it never does. We are always let go and sent somewhere else at the end of our three-month trial. We are made to feel disposable and some places I am sent to the managers and employees say ‘Oh you’re just a casual’. This might be true but I still need to eat! I am always negotiating with the bank around my mortgage because I can’t lock in secure work.”

It’s a discussion we should be having in New Zealand, but instead the NZ government is about to embark on a wholesale attack on the very heart of our employment relations system. Rather than attacking basic rights, wouldn’t it be great to be debating and implementing creative, progressive reforms?  Wouldn’t it be great to have an inclusive society that provides sustainable and decent work for all, that strikes a balance between maintaining economic competitiveness and security for NZ working people?

Sure, the Aussies have their problems, but they are looking ahead. They’re talking about it.

In New Zealand, the government is nurturing a dog eat dog attitude.

It’s your fault if you aren’t on top and for goodness sake, don’t bite the hand that feeds you.


Hate to say it, but in Australia…….

Posted by on March 23rd, 2012

As New Zealand workers face growing employer militancy with lockouts and demands for give-backs, Australia has been getting on with ensuring secure jobs and improving the pay and conditions of more vulnerable workers.

I’m really pleased to see that the Road Safety Remuneration Bill passed with a resounding vote in favour in the Senate.  It comes after a long running campaign to make roads safer for all users by taking the pressure from truckies to work long hours, take short cuts and scrimp on maintenance just to earn a living.

I tried to get an inquiry into NZ truck safety and its relationship with remuneration a couple of years ago, but was blocked by the National Party, despite evidence of a trucking nightmare in New Zealand.

The problem hasn’t gone away.  There is still one truck related death a week in New Zealand.  Many drivers are owner-drivers, so they have no employment rights, because they are in a commercial arrangement. Some do okay, but others are struggling. Other driving industries, such as the Courier Industry also face enormous pressure.

I just want to see people earn fair income for the work they do.

The other bill the Australian Senate passed this week is the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Inudstry) Bill which extends most provisions of the Fair Work Act to contract outworkers in the textile, clothing and footwear industry by deeming them to be employees. Our legislation covers “Homeworkers” and deems them to be employees, which came about after serious exploitation of Homecare workers in the 1990′s and a major court decision.

It may be that we are ahead of Australia in this instance, but their legislation provides a good study on how we might tackle the ever increasing dependent contracting arrangements in New Zealand.

But wait…. does National care?