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Nat's bill is attack on the vulnerable

15 March 2006

Nat's bill is attack on the vulnerable

A National MP's private member's bill is an attack on the young, the less-skilled, under-educated and the unemployed, Greens Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

First reading of Wayne Mapp's Private Member's Bill "Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment Bill" is due to be debated in Parliament this evening.

Ms Bradford says the Greens totally oppose the bill.

"This mean-spirited, anti-worker legislation has no place in a modern and innovative economy. What Dr Mapp and some other political parties supporting this bill fail to recognise is that it is already possible to have probation periods for new employees under the existing ERA (Employment Relations Act). Where a probationary period has been negotiated, it can be taken into account when looking at whether a dismissal is justified or not.

"What this bill is really about is stripping protections from the most vulnerable workers, those who tend to be less unionised and to have less ability to negotiate their conditions when they start a new job."

Ms Bradford says she agrees with the Council of Trade Unions that the bill, setting up a 90 day probation period for new employees, would strip away the legal rights of up to 200,000 workers every year.

"This is an attack on the young, the less skilled and educated, and the unemployed - who are also disproportionately Maori, Pasifika, and refugee and migrant workers," she says.

"If Dr Mapp's bill goes through, employees will be sacked at will during the first three months on the job. Even worse, once sacked, they become liable for a stand down of up to 13 weeks from Work and Income once they register back in the benefit system. People will be scared to start jobs and scared to change them.

"Employers say they want a flexible labour market - in fact, this bill would make it far more rigid and harder to recruit.

"The Green Party calls on other parties to throw this bill out at first reading. It should be recognised for what it is - the thin end of a National Party agenda to enshrine 'dismissal at will' in law - for all workers, not just during the first three months."


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