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National kicks workers when they are down

National kicks workers when they are down

The National Government’s plans to extend the Fire at Will law to cover all workplaces and significantly reduce union access is a major step backwards for New Zealand, Labour spokesperson Trevor Mallard says.

“This is National Party ideology aimed at stripping workers of basic rights and it will do nothing to create jobs or stability in the workforce,” Trevor Mallard said.

“The extension of the 90 day law will result in a ‘sticky' labour market where employees are unwilling to move to new jobs because of uncertainty and simply stick with the job they currently hold.

“In a time of high unemployment it is unhelpful to introduce laws that discourage people from moving around the labour market. Who is going to leave the security of a current job for the uncertainty of a new job that they could be fired from within 90 days. That means less new opportunities opening up for those who are looking to enter the labour market?

“The National Party is attempting to strip workers of basic rights. Every worker has the basic right to be represented by a Union and stripping people of this right puts New Zealand out of step with almost every other developed country in the world.

“Under National unemployment rates have sky rocketed and they are using the fact that people are vulnerable and desperate for work to strip them of their rights.

“It’s a poor excuse of a Government that would kick people while they are down.
“Access of union officials to workers at their workplace ensures that protections including health and safety and compliance with employment standards are more likely to be honoured.

“Access of union officials enables workers to choose to be represented by a knowledgeable person in grievance situations. Access of union officials provides support for workers to organise in their workplace including the training and support of on site worker representatives.

“Importantly these representatives are often able to work with employers to both identify and deal with workplace problems. They facilitate a more engaged workforce where workers can contribute their ideas to improving the workplace and the products or services created/provided there. Access of union officials provides support for workers to organise collective bargaining for improved wages and conditions.

“This short sighted attack on workers has negative consequences not only for workers but for initiatives to change our workplace into the productive, well rewarded places they need to be for real growth in our economy. Underlying the attack is an negative attitude to unions

“National has little evidence that the 90 day grievance free period with firms with under-20 employees has actually encouraged business to take on workers they may not otherwise have done.

“All the 90 Day law has done is create an imbalance between workers and employers.

“National have tried to sell their 90 day law for small businesses as a way of helping those on the fringes of the labour market into work.

“They say they have 'anectodal' evidence that this has been happening and they say that businesses are telling them it's happening.

“The problem is that the statistics paint a completely different picture - those on the margins of the workforce such as Maori and Pacific Islanders where unemployment has reached of 14.2 of Maori out of work and14.4 of Pacific people, the highest unemployment levels in a decade.

"It's nonsense to suggest that in a time of economic recession when most businesses were looking to scale back that some employers decided to give a new worker a go because of the 90 day law.

“Since becoming the Government National, has introduced the 90 Day Fire at Will law, stripped workers of rights around meal breaks, scrapped the Pay Equity Unit, and will soon announce an attack on the Holiday’s Act and is now about to remove the right of workers to have union representation.

“Its clear the National Party are pandering to big business without any thought for how this will impact workers or the economy.

“Stripping workers of their rights will not create growth in the job market; instead it will increase volatility within the workforce.

“Labour would repeal the 90- Day Fire at Will legislation and return current access provisions for unions. Governments should create jobs, not undermine the rights of individuals in the workplace, “Trevor Mallard said.


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