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Employment Relations Authority backs Air NZ prima nocta policy

Written By: - Date published: 10:49 am, August 11th, 2013 - 36 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags:

Following a successful application to access a sacked employee’s bank statements, Air New Zealand has had its right to insert a prima nocta clause into all of its employment agreements backed by the Employment Relations Authority.

The clause, which gives Air New Zealand senior management the right to sleep with any of its employees’ spouses on their wedding night, has alarmed civil libertarians and unions who are claiming the move breaches multiple human rights and should be stopped by government.

However Prime Minister John Key said he was relaxed about the clause and saw no reason for the government to intervene in the affairs of a semi-private business. “Look at the end of the day there’s a range of employers New Zealanders can work for so it’s pretty much the employee’s choice.”

Key said that there was no interest from the government in making such clauses mandatory. But Paula Bennett has suggested that she would be investigating making changes to cut the benefits of anyone who refused a job based on similar clauses. “Let’s face it, most bennies are already at it like rabbits anyway, and I don’t think that taxpayers will want to foot the bill just because they suddenly get a bit squeamish about getting on their backs for the boss once in a while.”

Air New Zealand’s CEO wasn’t available for interview, but in a written statement explained that the changes were about ensuring the national carrier “maintained a nimble and flexible workforce fit for the tough twenty-first century market”.

Opposition leader David Shearer has promised Labour will consider reviewing the issue when it becomes government, while Labour’s spokesperson for whatever-he-feels-like Shane Jones, commented that the policy was “redblooded” and that “Kiwis don’t want to be lead by a bunch of geldings, this’ll show the world we’re not a nation of nancyboys.”

36 comments on “Employment Relations Authority backs Air NZ prima nocta policy”

  1. tricledrown 1

    maybe we as shonkeys employer should be looking at shonkeys bank account and private communications as well

  2. fender 2

    Only a matter of time until Air NZ use spy drones to monitor their staff, how dare they use their legal sick leave entitlement.

  3. Sable 3

    Employment Relations Authority are really just a watered down version of what existed under the ECA. That is the employer is right and the employee wrong. In real terms this violates privacy laws, even in the USA a case similar to this was resolved in the employees favour. Look how far we have come from being a democracy when the US is doing a better job than we are of looking after their people.

    This is why Labour and National CAN NOT be trusted. They do not have the interests of Kiwi’s at heart. Vote Peters, vote Greens, anyone if better than these creeps.

    • AmaKiwi 3.1

      Could we please have a clearer legal explanation of what a “prima nocta” clause is?

      Is Sable correct in saying it means, “That is the employer is right and the employee wrong”?

      • Sable 3.1.1

        No this is just a bit of fun. Prima nocta was an old medieval proposition where the lord of the land could sleep with a servants new wife.

        Look at the link in the story for the real case. Similar cases have cropped up overseas and almost all authorities have sided with the employee save this disgusting corner of hell.

        • In Vino

          Sorry to be another perennial know-it-all, but it is ‘nocte’, not ‘nocta’.
          nox, noctis, feminine, night. 3rd declension if I remember rightly. Some right-winger will jump on it if I don’t…

          • Te Reo Putake

            At the risk of an appearence in Pedantry Corner, perhaps ‘jus primae noctis’ would be more accurate in terms of the concept?

            (I’ll get my petasus and tunica now)

            • In Vino

              Yes – Ius primae noctis is good Latin -‘Right/Law of the first night’. Primae noctis being possessive, or genitive case. In that Braveheart film they use ‘Prima Nocte’ – ablative case, meaning ‘On the first night’. Also good classical Latin.
              Where this word nocta comes from I am not sure: later, vulgar Latin? Church Latin? Or has it become such a common error that it now gets validity on Google search?

              So maybe I have nearly earned a full toga, even with a purple edge?

              (And by the way, to be a true pedant, you have to spell ‘appearance’ with an ‘a’ in the final syllable….)

              • Barry

                No, It is following the rule that every posting in a grammer thread has to have one spelling mistake.

                • It is not quite a spelling mistake, but is your mistake the capitalisation of ‘It’ after a comma?

                  (Now I’m wondering what my mistake is. And no-one worries these days about ending a sentence with a preposition. Or beginning a sentence with ‘And’ – or ‘Or’. Or not writing complete sentences. …)

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.2

        Uh no. It’s the supposed right/law in feudal times for the Lord of the land to have first go at any bride married in his domain, on her wedding night. Dunno how accurate it is historically.

        • Sable

          Yes it is historically accurate believe it or not.

          • Colonial Viper

            No wonder so many of our storied elite want to see society returned back to feudal times.

        • muzza

          Dunno how accurate it is historically.

          What do people suppose bowing a curtseying, were all about…

        • Te Reo Putake

          A real thing apparently, CV.


          Also a significant part of the plot in Braveheart, so must be true!

          btw, EDDIE seems to have ‘borrowed’ the concept of the post from here:


          • Sable

            Braveheart, now there’s a work of fiction.William Wallace was in reality a dissolute boozer and murderer. Not saying he deserved what happened to him having said that.

            • Mike S

              Edward the first was hardly a saint. Not sure about the murderer part either. Is it murder when you’re killing those who have invaded your country, raped and pillaged and are occupying your country ?

          • Eddie

            Nope. That’s the first time I’ve seen that. Prima Nocta’s been a satire staple for a long time though.

            I considered writing a straight piece on the bank statements story but it’s so shocking it speaks for itself. What’s particularly concerning is that, like Telecom, Air New Zealand is a training ground for many New Zealand managers who subsequently take their dodgy practices out into other companies.

            I expect we’ll start seeing this more often and I have no doubt it will put people off taking personal grievances to the ERA. Notch up another win for injustice.

            • Te Reo Putake

              Fair enough, Eddie, great minds etc.

              My concern is that the ERA seems to have overstepped it’s bounds; forcing a worker to provide retroactive and non-work related evidence goes a long way past what the authority is there to do. It also seems to move the nature of the judicial process toward the French ‘inquisitorial’ system.

            • RedLogix

              The mere fact that cases are published online and are searched by potential employers is enough to put most people off going anywhere near the ERA.

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                On the other hand it provides a database of wrongdoing by employers.

          • Puddleglum

            Don’t know about Braveheart but it features in ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ opera.

  4. Sable 4

    A wedding ring was also originally a symbol of ownership of a wife by her husband. The band was a symbol of her being “bound” to her husband. Everyone owned everyone else back then and it looks like today its happening again. We are not moving forward but being dragged backwards into the past. Employment relations is just one example.

    • Macro 4.1

      Too true unfortunately. The zero hours contract is just another example, as is the increasing work hours for a living, the erosion of working conditions such as lunch breaks and sickness entitlements, the constant “rationalisations” where every employee is required to reapply for their supposed permanent position…the list goes on. And all for a continually diminishing slice of the cake.
      Those unfortunate enough to have been born in the past 40 years have no idea of what working conditions were like in NZ in the 1950’s – 1970’s (which were a model for the rest of the world to follow) and those that were – seem completely unaware of how seriously eroded and appalling work life is now.

  5. Rogue Trooper 5

    “without Fonterra, dairy farmers in New Zealand would (also) be peasants”. -Katrina longshanks . (No, not really, it was a female professor of agricultural economics from Waikato Uni. ) 😉

    • Murray Olsen 5.1

      WTF? They’re closer to being peasants with Fonterra as the feudal lord than they were without it. Is agricultural economics code for bullshit?

  6. tc 6

    Airnz trades off its brand loyalty and the glamour of being in the airline game when it comes to motivating its workers.

    It had been growing its nasty practices under Fyfe which Luxon is employed to see through, its far from a great place to work anymore but hey its just being a market leader.

  7. One Anonymous Knucklehead 7

    This is a perfect solution to the Waitakere Man problem: Goff, Mallard, Jones et al can all be given seats on the board of Air NZ.

    Now, about the downside…

    • Rhinocrates 7.1

      No, that’s the problem. It’s obvious even to corporates that they’re useless and they know it themselves. They’ll hang on in parliament and their cushy list positions because there is nowhere else for them to go. Fuck New Zealand, fuck the people, fuck Labour… all they want are their sinecures.

  8. Populuxe1 8

    Though for them to go to these lengths, he/she surely would have had to have been on a final written warning or something – this sort of thing wouldn’t just happen out of the blue – due process must have been followed otherwise Air NZ wouldn’t risk opening themselves to an embaressing law suit.

    • Sable 8.1

      You don’t get it. In most countries this would be viewed as a violation of privacy laws. That is it happened outside working hours using a site that it not related to the persons employment. This is absolutely out of order and a very poor decision that sets an alarming precedent-that is your private life is not private and can be used against you in a work context. But hey look at scumbag Keys and co passing a law to spy on their own countrymen and women. Democracy is dead in this country.

  9. James Thrace 9

    Thats what happens when a criminal lawyer with no understanding of employment law is shoulder tapped to be an era member.

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