Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Employment Law Changes will Reduce Pay and Conditions

30 October 2012

Employment Law Changes will Reduce Pay and Conditions

The CTU strongly condemns further proposed changes to the Employment Relations Act 2000 announced today.

Peter Conway, CTU Secretary, says that “These changes are designed to reduce the wages and conditions of workers in New Zealand.”

The ability to negotiate collective agreements is reduced by making it easier for employers to walk away from negotiations and harder for workers to take industrial action. The Government also wants to remove protections for new employees (who can now be offered worse terms and conditions than the collective agreement) and some catering and cleaning staff who will be offered a choice between worse terms and conditions and losing their jobs where their employment is contracted out.”

Peter Conway says “The Government has not yet produced a Bill but has been making a series of announcements. We have previously seen details of plans to allow employers to opt out of Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (‘MECA’) bargaining and to restrict legitimate industrial action.”

The Minister of Labour has outlined a number of changes today including changes to what is known as Part 6a of the Act which deals with protection of vulnerable workers in a transfer situation. Today’s announcement also confirms the Government intention to introduce a Bill with other significant alterations to employment law.

Peter Conway says: “The dilution or removal of the duty to conclude a collective agreement undermines the purpose of the Employment Relations Act 2000 “to build productive employment relationships [among other things] by promoting collective bargaining” (section 3(a)(ii)). The Department of Labour has criticised this proposal in strong terms in their Regulatory Impact Statement (at paras 53 and 54) where they stated ‘this proposal may encourage poor bargaining behaviour (such as surface bargaining)… when one party has no intention of concluding an agreement and does no more than going through the motions to avoid a breach of good faith complaint. Parties may abandon attempts to reach an agreement, where it may have been possible to do so under the current framework. This change will have a signalling effect that employers can walk away easily… This may cause disputes around when bargaining has ended. This may cause deterioration of the employment relationship and see an increase in staff turnover, particularly where there is a strong union presence and commitment to collective bargaining. There is also a risk that fewer collective agreements will be concluded.’

Peter Conway said that currently employers are required to offer new employees the same terms as the collective agreement that covers their work for the first 30 days of their employment. The Government proposes to remove this requirement. In her first cabinet paper, Minister Wilkinson notes that removing this requirement “will enable employers to offer individual terms and conditions [to the new employee] that are less than those in the collective agreement.”

In contracting out situations, the current law providers strong protection for workers that are particularly vulnerable to exploitation those in cleaning and food services plus some caretaking, orderly and laundry services. Under Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act, if these services are contracted out the workers can choose to transfer to the new employer with the same terms and conditions of employment. The protections in part 6A were introduced in 2004 following a review in 2001 that found certain employers were forcing vulnerable workers to either accept worse terms and conditions when they took over a business or lose their jobs. 65% of these vulnerable workers are women and Maori and Pasifika are over-represented. Many earn close to the minimum wage.

It is proposed that incoming employers with less than 20 employees (Small to Medium Enterprises or SMEs) should be exempt from all of the Part 6A requirements. According to the Ministry of Economic Development, 31% of all employees are currently employed by SMEs. SMEs will have a significant incentive to undercut other tenderers by cutting employees terms and conditions. The CTU believes that this is a ‘race to the bottom’ that mistreats some of our most vulnerable workers.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On The Northland By-Election

Supposedly, Winston Peters’ victory in Northland has exposed the simmering dissatisfaction with the government that exists out in the provinces. Yet it remains to be seen whether this defeat will have much significance – and not simply because if and when Labour resumes business as usual in the Northland seat at the next election, Peters’ hold on it could simply evaporate.

On Saturday, National’s electorate vote declined by 7,000 votes, as the 9,000 majority it won last September turned into a 4,000 vote deficit – mainly because Labour supporters followed the nod and wink given by Labour leader Andrew Little, and voted tactically for Peters. In the process, Labour’s vote went down from nearly 9,000 votes six months ago, to only 1,315 on Saturday. More>>

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

IPCA Reports: Significant Problems In Police Custody

In releasing two reports today, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has highlighted a number of significant problems with the way in which Police deal with people who are detained in Police cells. More>>

ALSO:

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security: Inquiry Into GCSB Pacific Allegations

The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data. More>>

ALSO:

TPPA Investment Leak: "NZ Surrender To US" On Corporates Suing Governments

Professor Jane Kelsey: ‘As anticipated, the deal gives foreign investors from the TPPA countries special rights, and the power to sue the government in private offshore tribunals for massive damages if new laws, or even court decisions, significantly affected their bottom line’. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: The Myth Of Steven Joyce

Gordon Campbell: The myth of competence that’s been woven around Steven Joyce – the Key government’s “Minister of Everything” and “Mr Fixit” – has been disseminated from high-rises to hamlets, across the country... More>>

ALSO:

RMTU: No Public Submissions On International Government Procurement Deal

“The government is preparing to assent to the Government Procurement Agreement, a World Trade Organisation Treaty which opens up New Zealand Government contracts to foreign companies and closes the door on local businesses and their workers. However the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee is refusing to take public submissions on the decision.” More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On Pacific Spying

So New Zealand spied on its friends and allies in the Pacific – and has not only been passing on the results to the NSA, but has apparently passed on the details of the Pacific’s relations with Taiwan to our other best friends, the Chinese. On the side, the Key government has also been using the security services to gauge the chances of Trade Minister Tim Groser landing the top job at the WTO... More>>

ALSO:

State Housing Transfer: Salvation Army Opts Out

The Salvation Army has decided against negotiating with Government for the transfer of Housing New Zealand stock.
More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news