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Vote against the 90 day Bill

11 December 2008

To National, Act and United Future Members of Parliament

Vote against the 90 day Bill

The New Zealand Public Service Association: Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (the PSA) is the largest union in the country with over 57,000 members. We urge you to vote against the bill that will allow employers to dismiss employees without reason within the first 90 days of their employment and denies those employees their right to be heard: their right to fair and natural justice.

The PSA contends this Bill is simply a mechanism to deny employees fundamental employment and human rights. We believe it is misleading to present the Bill under the guise of probationary employment when probationary or trial periods are already permissible under the law, and key principles relating to trial periods established by the Court of Appeal .

The purpose of this Bill is to create a new category of employee – the ‘disposable worker’ who can be hired and fired at will with no recourse to fair and natural justice. National Party rhetoric has previously identified the target groups of workers for this proposal as ‘risky’ – that is, people who may be ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ or ‘too brown’ . By identifying particular groups within the community as ‘risky’, the proponents of this Bill effectively encourage discriminatory attitudes towards sections of the work force. This perceived risk rests on prejudices that would be unlawful if enacted.

At a time when the whole country is wondering how deep the recession will get, we are concerned that the government will add to that anxiety by making New Zealanders jobs less secure. On the one hand, in the Speech from the Throne, the government talks of the need to guarantee financial security for families and jobs for young people; and on the other it wants to pass a bill that will undermine workers’ financial security and jobs.

We are dismayed that the government is using urgency to push through this 90 day bill into law before Christmas. There is no justification for this approach, which undermines the democratic process. The last time this measure was introduced in 2006 there was considerable opposition and at the very least the government should allow the proposed legislation to go to select committee to hear further submissions.

The PSA opposes this bill because it’s bad for workers and bad for the economy and because it will put a handbrake on people changing their jobs for legitimate career reasons.

Please vote against it.

Richard Wagstaff Brenda Pilott
PSA National Secretary PSA National Secretary


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