The extremist faction of the National Party has been pushing John Key’s government to get tougher on workers. A remit passed at a recent National Party conference to allow replacement workers during strikes and lock outs was a reminder that hatred of unions and workers is still very deep seated in John Key’s “moderate” government and party.
John Key was ambivalent about the remit, saying that while the old party faithful called for it from time to time, “it wasn’t on the government’s agenda.”
Enter National MP Jami-lee Ross, with his Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Bill, drawn from the ballot this week, which has put the issue on the government’s agenda, whether John Key likes it or not.
There wasn’t much enthusiasm from National Party MPs when the Jami-lee’s bill was announced as coming out of the ballot and I saw a few face-palms!
The Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges wouldn’t give endorsement to the bill and John Key only got as far saying the government would support the bill to Select Committee.
You know why? It ruins the government’s attempts to downplay the Employment Relations Amendment Bill changes with his insistence they are “moderate, centre right, government changes.”
No they’re not. They’re very serious.
Then in piles the Employers & Manufacturers Association (EMA), who haven’t exactly had the best reputation for supporting workers’ rights in the past who said today that :
“While its principles are worth exploring it could prove very divisive”…… ”New Zealand communities place a high value on fairness and the Bill could have consequences that would be considered unfair”.
There’s a change going on when a prominent business organisation like the EMA is prepared to openly oppose a National MP bill. It may be a clever play to help downplay the rest of the government’s employment law changes, which are just as unfair and divisive, but I believe there’s more to their unease.
Jami-lee’s bill is a members’ bill. It has a long way to go through the parliamentary process. It’s a hateful and sinister piece of work, but what’s much more serious are the government’s changes to employment laws.
Submissions have now been called for on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill and these close on the 25th July.
Now, if only the EMA would come out and openly oppose those, we would indeed have a topsy turvy world.