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90 day trial not helping, union says

Media release: FIRST Union

Thursday September 13, 2012

90 day trial not helping, union says

As pressure mounts on the government to front up with a response to the jobs crisis, their own policy which was designed to deal with unemployment is instead doing the opposite and is contributing to the labour market seizing up, a union for workers in several private sector industries said today.

FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said feedback he had received from workers at a recent round of nationwide meetings of the union, was that workers were staying put in their current jobs, instead of moving to new higher skilled and better paid ones with a 90 day trial.

“The government says that it wants more flexibility in the labour market. But this policy discourages people from changing jobs to better themselves,” Robert Reid said.

“Workers are staying in the security of their current job rather than taking the risk of a new job with no employment protection for three months.

“This government sold the 90 day trial period as a way to give a chance to young workers and others marginalised from the workforce to get a job.

“Instead, youth unemployment remains high, as does general unemployment. And we have evidence that many private employers and even the Government’s own State Services Commission are insisting on a 90 day clause in all individual employment agreements even as high as senior management positions.”

“This has now led to the current dysfunctional labour market where we see high unemployment rates on one hand but reported skill shortages on the other.

“From my observations it is not skill shortages that are the problem, but it is the situation where workers who have developed the required skills, being reluctant to leave the security of their current job for a job where they could be sacked for no reason in the first 90 days.

“If workers are not taking up higher paid and higher skilled positions then those positions remain unfilled and fewer vacancies are created at entry level positions for unemployed workers and school leavers to fill.”

Robert Reid said that he had raised these issues with officials from the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment over the last week and had received a sympathetic hearing.

“The problem is that the introduction of the 90 day no employment rights law was not driven by empirical evidence from the Ministries but by an ideologically driven Minister trying to placate some small-minded employers.

“The only things mitigating against this policy disaster are the hundreds of Collective Agreements that unions have negotiated with employers that contain no 90 day fire at will provisions. FIRST Union has succeeded in keeping the 90 day provisions out of all Collective Agreements that we have negotiated since the extended law came in on 1 April 2011,” Robert Reid said.


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