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AUT Story: Maori Party Opposes 90-Day Labour Bill

Maori Party Opposes 90-Day Labour Bill

By Scott Winton: Te Waha Nui Online

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Maori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples told thousands of union workers at Aotea Centre today his party would oppose National MP Wayne Mapp’s controversial 90-day employment probation bill.

With the Greens and Labour also opposing it, the bill does not have enough support to be passed into legislation.

Dr Sharples said his party had analysed the submissions from the select committee and concluded it would not help Maori workers.

“There is no way in the world we would support this bill,” he says.

The rally was organised by union leaders in Auckland as a protest against Mapp’s private members bill.

The bill would allow employers to dismiss workers within the first 90 days of their employment without notice.

Until today two of the Maori Party’s four MPs had supported the bill, but they will now all oppose it.

The estimated crowd of 4000 included members from the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), Unite and the National Distribution Union (NDU).

Ecstatic response
Laila Harre, national secretary of the NDU, was ecstatic with the Maori Party’s decision.

She says the rally was a joyful occasion.

“We haven’t seen anything like this in Auckland since 1991,” she says.

Harre says students would have been vulnerable if the bill had become law.

Any student who works in the summer holidays could have a new employment contract each year.

Harre says this means students could be sacked at any time without legal recourse.

A spokesman for the Green Party, Ivan Sowry, says students will be the most severely affected.

“Students would be hired and fired with no comeback,” says Sowry.

He says while there are some good employers, unscrupulous employers could use such a law to target union labour.

“Employers could fire someone if they join a union within the first 90 days of employment,” he says.

Australia has similar legislation in place and it is being used by some employers to target unions.

Guard fired
A security guard was fired on the last day of his probation period after refusing to sign an individual contract, which would have seen his pay cut by $9000.

Mike Treen, secretary of Unite, says he gets many calls from his members who have been victimised by employers.

“This will make the problem even worse. It will increase job insecurity which will lead to a lot more stress and depression,” says Treen.

A worker at Fletcher Aluminium, Robert Tipene, says it would probably increase unemployment.

He says people won’t want to look for a job if it only lasts 90 days.

“Getting rejected at an interview is hard enough. If they’ve put their heart and soul into the job and they get sacked, it could crush some people,” says Tipene.

Harre says while today is a great day for the union movement it is important to keep on fighting.

“If National gets back in power, this will be the first thing they bring back.” she says.

For more, see… Te Waha Nui Online.

ENDS

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