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Personal Grievance Rights Must be Restored

Personal Grievance Rights Must be Restored

The Council of Trade Unions is calling for the restoration of personal grievance rights after the release of a report showing a pro-employer trend in decisions in the Court of Appeal.

The independent report by Professor Gordon Anderson of the Victoria University Faculty of Law, which was commissioned by the CTU, was released today.

The Anderson Report traces the erosion of an objective approach in a number of Court of Appeal decisions to the increasingly subjective employer-based standard which limits the ability of the Court to review an employer decision.

“It seems that some rather basic principles of fairness have gone out of the window in our highest appeal court,” CTU president Ross Wilson said.

“It is unthinkable that the Court would be responding to the sustained employer campaign on employment law, but it is difficult not to see a coincidence of events.”

To rub salt into the workers’ wound the Court of Appeal has also suppressed compensation awards to workers who get past the new restrictive tests for challenging their dismissal.

Evidence in support of this view is provided in the 20 Employment Tribunal and Authority cases reviewed recently in a substantial paper to the Employment Law Institute by Chief Judge Goddard which he concluded revealed ‘a pattern of extremely low awards’.

“It is 30 years since personal grievance rights were introduced to replace strike action by fellow workers of the grievant,” said Ross Wilson.

“A job is of economic, social, and personal importance to individual workers. The law should be fair and the remedies realistic. The Report confirms the law is neither.”

The Anderson Report can be found on the CTU website www.union.org.nz.

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