The government is pushing on with their Environmental Relations Act Amendment Bill, reducing workers’ rights to rest breaks.
According to employers they need the flexibility, but as unions point out “negotiate” with the boss means the boss gets to decide. This isn’t an equal relationship.
On Nine to Noon this morning their employment lawyer admitted some employers will abuse this law. And where the likes of Phil O’Reilly say that most employers will come to a reasonable solution, it is after all the few bad employers that we need to make law for. Ignoring that fact is ignoring parliament’s job.
As the National Secretary of First Union points out employers are operating happily under the current rules. When they were first introduced the relative inflexibility caused a few problems as new procedures were required and teething troubles took time to sort out. But ultimately the current law has the requirements of reasonableness in it anyway.
Breaks are important to the health and safety of workers. When they’re unpaid, it is even more unreasonable to expect workers to be available during them. Being disciplined for having to use the loo is insane.
But then, this is National. So I guess we can expect the attacks on worker rights (right to talk to union, wage cuts for working to rule, wages dropping, attacks on health and safety and ACC, etc) to continue.