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Bill's claims are unproven and fanciful

Media Release

23 May 2006

Bill’s claims are unproven and fanciful

The proposed Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment Bill will not result in the employment and productivity boost its backers claim, PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti said today.

She said the justifications behind the Bill’s introduction – a boost in employment and in growth and productivity, and claims it would benefit Mäori were unproven at best and fanciful at worst.

“The fact is that New Zealand has the lowest unemployment in the OECD after six years of the Employment Relations Act (ERA), an Act that does not deny new employees personal grievance protections.

“The Bill’s other major claim – that it will enable employers to dismiss employees without the inconvenience of having to justify their actions – is no doubt true but you can hardly conclude that this claim will lead to a highly skilled and productive work environment.”

Te Whaiti believed the amendment would encourage a ‘disposable-employee’ approach, leaving employees vulnerable to unsafe and discriminatory practices but with no recourse to any legal protection.

“It runs counter to the idea of good faith that underpins the ERA and encourages employers to view employees as an investment who, with the right processes and support will add value to the enterprise.”

She said the proposal would particularly affect beginning teachers whose first year is a form of internship for which guidance and support are essential for them to develop effective teaching skills in a real school environment.

“Although a majority of schools provide great support, there are times when schools haven’t fulfilled that responsibility. The effect of this Bill would be to make a beginning teacher the scapegoat when the real issue is the lack of support and guidance.

“It is certainly not in the interests of school students or other teachers to have beginning teachers moving from job to job every three months and not getting the sort of stable employment and developmental feedback that is needed for them to grow in the job, and to become fully registered.”

Te Whaiti said the amendment would also discourage teachers from moving to rural areas.

“Most individuals would not risk uprooting their families and purchasing property in a different area if there is a chance that they could find themselves summarily dismissed at the end of 90 days.

“Rural schools, which traditionally have the greatest difficulty recruiting and retaining staff, will be seriously disadvantaged should this amendment become law.

“It is worth noting that many of the rural schools affected will be either whare kura or have high numbers of Maori students. These schools will not want to see their current recruitment difficulties worsened in any way.”

ENDS

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