- Date published:
8:18 am, September 12th, 2018 - 65 comments
Categories: Dr Deborah Russell, Economy, employment, health and safety, helen clark, labour, nz first, Shane Jones, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:
The next time you are subject to news that business confidence is declining question the validity of the survey. This is the only response possible after news that Business NZ has run a faulty poll.
From John Anthony at Stuff:
A business confidence survey conducted by lobby group BusinessNZ has been criticised for asking a question which forced chief executives to answer negatively about the Government’s employment law reform.
The annual “mood of the boardroom” survey, commissioned by the New Zealand Herald, and conducted by BusinessNZ and the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), is described as a key barometer of business sentiment.
It asks more than 500 business owners how they feel the Government is performing on a range of issues, and has been running since 2005.
This year’s survey included a question which asked “Are you concerned by any of the proposed changes to employment law?”.
Respondents were asked to tick any of the six concerns listed ranging from “unions may enter workplace without notification”, to “businesses with more than 20 employees not allowed 90-day trials”.
There was no “none of the above” or “other” options and respondents were not allowed move onto the next question without ticking at least one box.
What better way to increase hostility to the Government’s very modest law reforms, require those taking part in the poll to have to choose a negative option. Kim Jon Un would be proud of such a technique.
Business NZ has since admitted that a mistake was made but you have to wonder at the credibility of opinion news coming from that organisation.
And Business NZ has threatened to complain to the International Labour Organisation.
How embarrassing. The proposed changes are pretty modest and only return some rights that were taken away from union members by the last Government. What is the bet that no complaint actually occurs, or if one is made it is dismissed.
Whatever. I'm pretty sure that ILO will be good with us reinstating Kiwis' right to a tea break.https://t.co/RTET6a4ci8
— Deborah Russell MP (@BeeFaerie) September 10, 2018
Business NZ must live in a bubble. New Zealand’s laws and the proposed changes are pretty modest.
And the repercussions of a weakened trade union movement are clear. Like Sistema, a South Auckland Plastics Firm that pays barely above minimum wages and requires its full time workers to work 60 hours a week on minimum wage without overtime pay. And has “part time” workers who are contracted to work 40 hours a week. And discriminates against Union members.
Many staff and their union have accused the company of exploiting vulnerable migrant workers and they’re speaking out about their desperate need for better pay and working conditions.
While full-time production staff, who make Sistema’s plastic containers, are required to work 60 hours a week, according to Ms Latu’s contract, part-time workers are required to work 40 hours in a normal working week.
Both Ms Latu and her co-worker Jennifer Talitiga Finau are frustrated over their current working conditions.
Jennifer Talitiga Finau is frustrated over her current working conditions.
Ms Finau has worked full-time for Sistema for almost 14 years – and also receives $17 an hour.
“I think that for most of us it’s [the] long hours. I really want to [have] less hours and more pay. Because we need to be with our family,” Ms Finau said.
They were joined by about a 100 frustrated workers and supporters who attended a recent meeting about the stalled pay talks with Sistema.
The workers said after nine months of negotiations for better wages and an end to their 12 hour days, the company still haven’t budged.
Ms Latu claims the company penalises workers who are part of the union.
“The thing is they pay the non – [union] members different from the union members. So as a team leader, I’m on $17 and the non-union ones are on $18.50,” Ms Latu said.
“It’s not fair because we do the same amount of work every night. We don’t know why they’re getting more than we are,” she said.
“We deserve to be treated equally. We are not treated equally at Sistema.”
The need for change should be pretty evident. But New Zealand First is showing troubling signs of weakness:
From Henry Cooke at Stuff:
NZ First leader Winston Peters will not guarantee his party’s support for the Government’s controversial industrial relations bill, saying it is still a “work-in-progress”.
Peters did not directly threaten to withdraw his party’s support for the bill, but signalled there was still room for negotiation between the Labour and NZ First on it.
The Employment Relations Amendment Bill is Labour’s flagship employment bill, and has drawn a sustained campaign of criticism from business groups.
The bill would end the 90-day trial for all large businesses, bring back legislated real and meal breaks, allow greater union access to workplaces, and force employers to accept multi-employer collective agreements (MECAs) if their employees wanted them.
Labour MPs are adamant the legislation basically returns industrial policy to where it was prior to the last National government’s changes.
On the other hand, National MPs and business groups have said it would take New Zealand back to the 1970s.
It is a shame that rather than call out National’s propaganda the media is presenting both sides of the debate as if both views are valid. The changes will not return New Zealand to the Industrial Relations system that existed in the 1970s. We had compulsory unionism back then FFS.
But it is troubling that New Zealand First is showing signs of weakness. Again from Henry Cooke:
NZ First MP Tracey Martin said her caucus had discussed the bill but to the best of her knowledge they were still supporting it, as they had at first reading.
In an interview with TVNZ in early August, NZ First MP Shane Jones said “the big end and the small end of town” were constantly lobbying him to change the bill.
Jones said the party would listen to the submissions, but would still support it. He didn’t rule out pushing for more changes.
The party already won a concession on the bill before its first reading, with 90 day trials remaining in place for smaller employers.
Makes you wonder how Shane Jones ever made it into the Labour Party.