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

Open Source // Open Society - Full Coverage

Gordon Campbell:
On The Reserve Bank And Auckland Housing

The ‘crisis – what crisis?’ response by the government to the Auckland housing price bubble is no longer acceptable.

So says Reserve Bank governor Grant Spencer – who used unusually frank language in his speech and subsequent interviews yesterday to call for a capital gains tax, and to generally chastise central and local government for their inaction on a threat to the country’s economic health and financial stability.

That threat has been real for some time. The housing price bubble has already created a currency bubble... Undaunted, the government keeps calling this situation a success story. More>>

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Bangladesh: GCSB Dragging NZ Into Human Rights Abuses

The New Zealand government should stop providing intelligence assistance to Bangladeshi security agencies that are known to systematically engage in human rights abuses, said the Green Party today. More>>

ALSO:

Troops Heading To Iraq: Government Must Come Clean On Deployment

New Zealanders deserve more than to hear about their troops’ deployment overseas from Australian media, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “News from Australia that Kiwi troops are on their way to Iraq this week is another example of the culture of secrecy and unknown protections around the deployment.” More>>

ALSO:

Image: Strikers And Protestors Join Outside McDonald's

A group of protestors took to McDonald’s Manners St today as a part of the international fast food workers day of action to end zero hour contracts. More>>

ALSO:

Greens: Special Education Funds Not Spent

More than $32 million of funding for children with special needs has not been spent by the Government, despite families of children with special needs complaining for years that they’ve been denied the support they deserve. More>>

ALSO:

John Key: Pre-Budget Speech To Business NZ

So this Government will remain relentlessly focused on improving the competitiveness of our economy... We will continue to give businesses a platform to invest, grow and create jobs in the knowledge they will be backed by a clear and consistent government policy programme. More>>

ALSO:

Multimedia: Andrew Little’s Response To John Key’s Pre-Budget Address

Labour Party leader Andrew Little spoke today on John Key’s pre-budget address this afternoon in Wellington. Little said National has had seven years to achieve a surplus and Kiwis have “fufilled their end of the bargain.” More>>

Surplus Baggage: Key Backs Off ‘Artificial Target’

John Key’s attempt to redefine his cornerstone promise of two election campaigns as an artificial target suggests his other promises are works of fiction, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On UE Pass Rates And University Dropout Rates

Houston, there is clearly a problem with (a) the plunge in pass rates for University Entrance qualifications, which has been especially steep among Maori students and also a problem with (b) the failure rates for Maori students among those who reach university... Unfortunately the two problems seem related. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
More RSS  RSS
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news