We have a government which is committed to chip chip chipping away at employment law (they call it a “flexible labour market”). Perhaps we as a country need a reminder of just why employment law is necessary:
Defence Force cuts condemned
The way in which the Defence Force has dumped 308 military staff has been met with condemnation, with one union calling it an outrageous abuse of power. The force today announced the first in a series of cuts intended to remove 1000 uniformed personnel and replace them with 500 civilian staff. A similar exercise was expected later in the year. …
Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said there had been special constitutional reasons why military staff were not covered by employment law and the restructuring was an outrageous abuse of power.
“It’s fine for the Defence Force to restructure, but to then make these workers apply for their own jobs on the open market is simply orchestrating what would be an unfair dismissal in any other normal business, and these men and women deserve more respect than that,” she said. …
A spokesman for acting Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman would not comment, saying it was an operational matter for the force. But Defence Minister Wayne Mapp last week said the civilianisation process would allow the force to get “more work out of fewer people”. …
Assistant chief of personnel Commodore Kevin Keat today said the job cuts would save $23 million in total because they would no longer have to pay the staffs’ uniform allowance, accommodation assistance and health and dental care.
Defence Force cuts leave staff ‘gutted’
Defence staff, although gutted, were too loyal to speak up, so civilian Gary Farrer spoke for them, describing the atmosphere at the base as ‘like a morgue’. “You’re talking about people that have done 30 years. That’s all they know, is service,” he says.
There’s nothing wrong with restructuring, but it should be done with due process and consideration for the individuals involved. Here we see how a workforce without the protection of employment law (or better yet a Union) can be treated. Long serving, loyal staff sacked to get “more work out of fewer people”. If they’re “lucky” some of those cast aside might get civilian versions of their old jobs back, with (effectively) huge pay cuts as a sweetener. Welcome to the epitome of National’s flexible labour market.