December 15, 2008
ReStart no substitute for real redundancy – EPMU
The Government’s “ReStart” package will be welcome but is no substitute for a real redundancy package, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.
About 85% of EPMU collective agreements contain redundancy clauses that provide redundant workers with the financial capacity to cope while they find new employment.
However, for the 80% of New Zealand workers who are not covered by unions there is currently no minimum redundancy entitlement in law.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says the cost of laying off workers should fall on the employer not the taxpayer and there are plenty of international precedents for a minimum redundancy entitlement.
“While the government’s measure offers some small amount of help it pales in comparison to the real benefits of the legal minimum notice and minimum redundancy policies that dozens of other countries have in place.
“We can’t ignore the fact that our nearest trading partner and the host of many of our departing workers, Australia, now has national employment standards which provide for mandatory minimum redundancy rights with a sliding scale based on the size of the business.
“As the economy has worsened we’ve seen tangible benefits of redundancy clauses as members who have been made redundant are able to continue to pay their mortgages and their grocery bills while they seek other work.”
Earlier this year an Advisory Group on redundancy and restructuring, which included business and worker representation, agreed that the Government should consider a minimum entitlement for notice and compensation in redundancy.
The average redundancy package in EPMU agreements of 6 weeks wages for the first year of service and 2 weeks for each other year with 4 weeks notice is in line with the average in the Victoria University and Department of Labour databases of New Zealand collective agreements.
The International Labour Organisation’s table of minimum redundancy standards by country is available here.