Crash National’s Party – Protest for Fairness at Work

Written By: - Date published: 2:05 pm, July 16th, 2010 - 52 comments
Categories: activism, class war, national, workers' rights - Tags:

John Key’s expected to announce drastic attacks on workers’ rights in his speech to the National Party conference in Auckland this weekend, and activists from all over the Left will be there to make it clear that attacks on working Kiwis will not be tolerated.

These latest attacks on wage and salary earners come, not surprisingly, as National’s financial backers are withholding their funding unless Key delivers faster and deeper cuts to our rights and protections.

As a result Key is expected to announce plans to give every employer in New Zealand the power to sack their workers for any reason, or no reason at all, within the first 90 days of a new job. This means every Kiwi starting a new job would face the risk of being fired, on the spot, with no fair process and no right of appeal. It is a policy that entrenches unfairness at the heart of our employment law.

He also wants to deny workers the right to see their union representative on the job. Under Key’s plan employers will have more power to refuse union organisers entry to the workplace. In reality this also means hundreds of thousands of Kiwis will lose the ability to join a union in the first place, as unions will be unable to go onsite and recruit new members. You can see what the end goal here is, and why National’s business backers might be demanding this change.

The Nats also plan to slash union education for workers (don’t want workers going and learning about their employment rights) and make cuts to our holiday entitlements.

The effect of all this, as we know from the experience of the 1990s, will be to reduce our wages and conditions and leave New Zealand falling even further behind Australia. There is no moral or economic justification for these changes, they haven’t even updated their spin. This is just good old fashioned class war from a party that exists to enrich the business elite at the expense of ordinary wage and salary earners.

You can stand up and fight back against this madness by joining the protest at 10am on Sunday at Sky City Hotel  in Auckland (Main entrance, 72 Victoria Street West, Auckland City). Key’s speech is at 11am and the idea is to make as much noise as possible, so bring your pots, your pans and your vuvezelas.

UPDATE: Facebook group here.

52 comments on “Crash National’s Party – Protest for Fairness at Work”

  1. jen 1

    If you live in Dunedin, there will be a similar protest at 12 pm in the Octagon, marching to the National Party office on Princes St.

  2. ianmac 2

    One of the Union commentators this morning said that the PM gave them an undertaking at the Conference last year that although the issues had been in the Election manifesto, he did not have it in mind to activate it, but if that changed he would get back to discuss it with the Unions. But he didn’t.

    Another example of just telling the audience what it wants to hear?

  3. eye saw 3

    My grandad was working on a work scheme during the depression.
    They were digging a drain on a rural swamp drainage scheme and there were a lot of men employed.
    Outside the fence was lined with unemployed men wanting work.
    The boss walked along one day,a man from outside the fence pointed at grandad and said how much are you paying that man.3pence an hour.
    I’ll do it for 2pence.
    End of job.
    The kind of job conditions national want.
    Push the sky tower over on sunday.

  4. nilats 4

    Can we borrow Len the Loudspeaker man to dish out the appropriate response?
    When the riff raff arrive I wonder how many rely on a benefit to keep their standard of living?

  5. J Mex 5

    It would seem that the introduction of the 90 day probationary period didn’t really bring on any of the horrific employment conditions that the opponents of the bill said it would. What makes you think the extension of the bill will?

  6. SHG 6

    The 90-day probation seems eminently sensible to me and I can’t see why it was initially restricted to small businesses.

  7. Sookie 7

    I have no time for ‘class warfare’ and other lame phrases from the old days of the left wing, but I loathe this government with a passion, and I do have time for unions. The modest resurgence of the union movement and improvements in employment law under the Clark government made NZ a less nasty, cutthroat, struggle of a place for poor to middling people. Most people in NZ are poor to middling, and they need their basic rights protected. The majority of humble Kiwis remember the bad old days of the Nineties quite well, and will kick Key in the nuts as soon as they get a whiff of that same bullshit starting up again. This is the Employment Contracts Act by nefarious, sneaky means. At least Bolger, Richardson, Birch et all were honest about sticking it to the peasants. I wish I could go to this protest, even if I had to hang with the uncool socialists, but alas, I’m in the Deep South where nobody protests nothin’.

    • toad 7.1

      Hey, there was a pretty good one in Invercargill against mining a couple of weeks ago.

      • Sookie 7.1.1

        Dunners is pretty pathetic for protests, Toad, very low turnouts. Not like my old student days. However there is one organised for tomorrow in the Octagon at 12PM I have just heard- “A Dunedin protest at the National Party announcement of attacks on unions and workers rights.” Would be nice if they did get some people turn up, since our economy is depressed and our workers quite low on the average wages scale, but apathy rules in this fair city.

        • loota 7.1.1.1

          Hopefully I’ll make it to that protest in DN tomorrow Sookie.

          Yes ‘Class Warfare’ is a lame phrase from decades past but I am tempted to think that it best describes what is going on at the moment.

          Ironically, many of the poor and middling have been told to expect nothing better from life, believe it and still support National.

          People who are in reality labourers – but now work in a shirt and tie for minimum wage or a couple of dollars per hour more – cannot even recognise that they are the new proletariat.

    • michaeljsavage 7.2

      not many people want class warfare. most would abhor it and it isnt a hallmark of socialism in its purest form. the class warfare is coming from the right wing and the new right economic theorists who play fast and loose with economics and return to centralised socialist policies when the brown stuff hits the fan.

      The old left wing got in place the benefits of a fair and equitable society … at great personal cost often … the clark government only restored what others fought for and won – and the new right stripped away.

  8. Rex Widerstrom 8

    I’m with J Mex and SHG above… abuses of the law seem to have been few and far between and provided strong snactions agsinst abuse are written in I think there are significant advantages that outweigh the risks. Mind you, that’s only on the proviso of their being sanctions, and I don’t trust NACT to ensure fairness in that way.

    I agree the intent here is negative… but the outcome needn’t necessarily be. New Zealanders generally have an innate sense of a “fair go” (something that bloody Australians keep claiming as uniquely theirs, much to my annoyance). If an employer put staff on a 90 day revolving door, then the reaction to that would be almost uniformly negative and either force a change in policy by that employer (most likely) or a law change (less likely).

    On the other side of the coin, I’m sometimes in the position of trying to find a job for someone who has a criminal record. In fact having just won a case which allows a convicted murderer to serve out his parole in WA and take care of his ailing ex-wife and be near their children, I now have to try and find him employment.

    The murder was committed over a decade ago, under extreme provocation, and was a crime of passion. His record in jail and on parole in another state for several years is perfect. In other words he’s a danger to no one, and comes with glowing references for his work in prison industries and on the outside. But who wants a murderer on their staff?

    Being able to say to an employer “Give him a go… if he’s any trouble in the first 90 days you’ve lost nothing” would be a huge boon.

    Okay that’s an extreme example, but for “murderer” insert “someone who’d been out of the workforce for years”, “some wanting a chnage of career”, “someone wanting their first job”, and so on.

    • Tiger Mountain 8.1

      Well Rex even murderers get a “day in court’, unlike workers in New Zealand soon. Natural justice is out as far as Johnnie and the hollowmen are concerned.

      • Rex Widerstrom 8.1.1

        Yep TM, a law only works if it’s written with fairness in mind, and the judges appointed to referee it are impartial. Sadly I don’t think either will apply in this case (though I’d happily be corrected by the outcome).

        Which is a pity, because done correctly and fairly it could work to advantage as I’ve mentioned above.

    • SMSD 8.2

      Rex, what do you mean by “sanctions against abuse”?

      The entire point of the law is that employers can sack anyone, anytime within 90 days with no reason. There is no way that kind of law can be checked, given that there is no requirement for employers to give any reason for a sacking, so there is no way an employee can have any recourse, ujnless the employer is dumb enough to say “I am sacking you because of your race” (for instance).

      Up until now, the law did allow for trial periods, but there were checks to ensure they weren’t a sham. This law gets rid of that, for more workers than before.

      • Rex Widerstrom 8.2.1

        I’d define abuse as a queue of people saying “I was employed for 89 days and then given the sack”. And maybe someone else saying… “and I took over his job and did 89 days”.

        Unless it’s the most unskilled work I can imagine I can think of no reason why an employer would take on someone for 89 days and then sack them for a reason other than that they weren’t performing. Even the most minimal employment and induction costs involved in employing that person’s replacement would leave the employer out of pocket.

        I know employers will abuse loopholes – in Australia the requirement to pay 9% superannuation on top of the wages of permanent staff leads some to abuse the “casual worker” loophole – but I just can’t see an advantange to them in abusing this one and nor have I heard of them so doing.

    • Luxated 8.3

      …abuses of the law seem to have been few and far between…

      I know I’m pulling this slightly out of context but I think it needs to be addressed. Since there is effectively no legal oversight of the law how can we be sure that the law isn’t being abused (much)? With no legal recourse the only other alternative is to go to the media and then you have to be damned confident that the law was abused and a very confidential individual to be able to go to the papers or on TV and say “I’ve been sacked”.

      • Rex Widerstrom 8.3.1

        These things become known Luxated. People approach CABs or Community Law Centres to see if they have any rights in these situations, or end up on a benefit and some welfare organisation hears of their case, and it’s these organisations that highlight the abuses… scum always rises to the surface, and any scum employers get found out.

        • Luxated 8.3.1.1

          It would be nice to think so. However I’m not so sure that this is the case at least in this situation. Say something often enough and it becomes the truth, so if people keep telling probationary employees that they have no rights (fundamentally true with certain exceptions) they will believe that and not attempt to find out what few rights they do have.

          Also in my layman’s view of the law it seems particularly difficult to abuse it in a strict legal sense (I’d say designed to, but I’m not quite that cynical yet). If no reason has to be given to fire someone the only way that dismissal could be proved to be illegal is if the ex-employee could demonstrate that either the 90 probation period wasn’t applicable or that their dismissal contravened the BORA. The first scenario seems quite unlikely to occur unless the employer is careless, the second scenario is more likely but difficult to prove.

          From an ethical standpoint it is obviously much easier to abuse the law, but for that to show up you would need a case of systemic abuse for it to come to the attention of the appropriate organisations e.g. 90 day rolling rosters or similar. The thing is, smaller companies can’t really pull that off, lower number of applications per position, low staff turnover, small staff size (probates constantly leaving is obvious).

          • Carol 8.3.1.1.1

            There was a young woman who talked on camera last night on TV3 News, about being laid off through the 90 Day rule. She was told she could get an explanation as to why she was laid off, so wrote a letter to the employers concern asking why. She got no reply. So she has no idea what she did wrong, how she could improve etc.

  9. I try to avoid Nats as much as I can however we all get stuck with them sometimes .And thats when you can listen to their ideals and beliefs.
    Listen to what the farmers say about workers,listen to the BRT and the employers Fed and worse off all listen to the working class Tories. The former say “It does the worker good to have to tighten his belt.Whilst suffering from overeating .The latter whine that the “unions have done nothing for me” but are first in the queue to recieve the benifits . Im sick of them all .I will fight them and oppose them until the day I

  10. OleOlebiscuitBarrell 10

    Go for it. The public will get to see you all “crashing” and frothing. Then you guys will wring your hands and ask again why the public haven’t “woken up” as National’s popularity continues to rise.

  11. bobo 11

    Very appropriate venue for a National Party conference, put the economy all on red John.. will the mole be attending this years do?

  12. Tanz 12

    Julia Gillard was darn lucky that the egg thrower was a bad shot. Not that I condone such desperate behaviour. National will have their conference and laugh behind closed doors. Since when did they listen to voices of dissent? They have the power now and care for public opinion not one jot. Roll on 2011, maybe Winston will really be back!

  13. tsmithfield 13

    The reason that Labour is doing so poorly at the moment is that they are picking issues that don’t gel with public sentiment. For instance, kicking up a fuss about tax cuts, arming police etc. I think this 90 day issue is in a similar category. From what I have heard on talkback etc, people generally seem to understand the concept that employers are more likely to give people a go if there is less risk for them in doing so. Screaming, heckling protestors outside the National Party conference is just going to confirm what a lot of people already think about Labour.

    That doesn’t actually mean I think Labour is wrong about everything they take a stand on. But there is a difference between being right and being popular. In the end, like it or not, politics is a popularity game. Labour needs to learn this lesson fast.

  14. It will be interesting to see how the Maori Party reacts to this attack on workers rights. Is Tariana Turia /Sharples going to just let it go bye without comment. We seen the Maori Party support the Nats on all their anti-worker legislation so I expect they will ignore this attack on workers rights, However this is so serious this could well be the end of the Maori Party.

    • Jenny 14.1

      EMA has no evidence of 90 day claims

      While the right wing EMA have no evidence. As Carol points out, the Maori Party cite statistics that show that Maori youth unemployment in particular has grown worse since the introduction of the 90 day law.

      Turoa Flavell:

      The level of Maori youth who have participated in the workforce, between March this year and last year, when the scheme came to effect, has dropped by 1.5%. Over that same time, the Maori youth unemployment rate has increased by 6.4% to 27.7%.

      As opponents of this bill will there be a Maori Party presence at the protest on Sunday?

      Will the Greens rally their supporters be there?

      Will there be a large Labour Party contingent and their supporters there?

      If they organise together, could they build a flax roots campaign big enough to defeat this bill?

      Who knows?

      The only way to tell, will be to rock on up.

      • Jenny 14.1.1

        .
        On Friday morning the Employers and Manufactures Association was challenged by Combined Trades Union President, Helen Kelly to come up with evidence that trial periods create jobs.

        Rather than provide any numbers or factual data the EMA reply with 5 anecdotes.

        Anecdotal evidence is not hard evidence, because used selectively it can be used to justify any position, but even with this low level of evidence the EMA is stretching.

        1) ‘I am a manager of a childcare centre who employs nine staff. We have had previous ladies take on this role but with little success, both for themselves and us. We were hesitant and cautious when employing someone to fill this role but have recently employed a young lady. As it turns out everything is going extremely well and the employee is very happy, as are we.’

        Anecdote 1) A childcare agency says that they have hired a new start and it is going well. In this anecdote the 90 day trial is not even mentioned. Was the new employee working under the 90 day trial period or not?

        This employer doesn’t say.

        If this worker was employed under this scheme, did it influence this employers decision?

        The employer doesn’t mention if it was.

        Result?

        A mystery.

        2) ‘We have employed a young person who was advertising for an apprenticeship in an engineering company. So far he is doing very well and we are planning at this stage to offer him a full apprenticeship at the end of his 90-day trial period.’

        Anecdote 2) A young person was advertising for an apprenticeship and was given a start under the 90 day scheme by an engineering firm.

        “So far he is doing well and we are planning at this stage to offer him a full apprenticeship.”

        Notice the qualifications, “So far he is doing well”, and “at this stage”.

        A win for the 90 day trial law?

        A “qualified” maybe.

        3) ‘We have hired a staff member on a trial period and are very happy with the relaxed attitude about 90-day trial period. Prior to this being introduced we were reluctant to take anyone on. Times are tough with imports taking away most of our work. However, the position offered was one that required a specialist machinist. Here’s hoping all goes ok and thanks for the help offered recently.’

        Anecdote 3) An employee taken on under the scheme by an employer who said they are “happy” with the “relaxed attitude”.

        Would they get a job?

        “Here’s hoping all goes well” says the employer.

        Another maybe.

        4) ‘The applicant was put through a fairly demanding two hour interview with some basic math and computer tests – just to check they can do what they say they can under pressure and that the results are as we want. The applicant was informed that we would like her to go through the 90 day trial period. She agreed to the trial and that it was no problem. She said she expected it and had confidence in herself to succeed.’

        Anecdote 4) After a “demanding two hour interview” to check that the employee could do the job.

        Will this employee get a permanent job?

        The employee herself said she was confident she would succeed.

        The employer gave no comment.

        Was this a win?

        Who knows?

        5) ‘We are delighted with the new legislation as it has meant that we have been able to employ an additional two fabrication engineers full time without having to take the chance and run the bureaucratic gauntlet if we made the wrong decision. This change in the regulations gives us a fair chance at candidate selection without the risk of a lengthy and expensive litigation process should we employ an unsuitable person in error. In my 25 years in business it has occurred to me that making it successfully through a 30 minute interview is relatively easy for a candidate but keeping a facade up for three months is a different ball game.’

        Anecdote 5) After taking on two workers under this scheme, the employer raves on about how great this legislation is.
        Saying that it was easy for workers to get successfully through a 30 minute interview, “but keeping up a facade for three months was a different ball game.”

        OK we get it. Employers love this scheme.

        But whether either of these two workers would achieve a full time job was not even mentioned. This was obviously not an important issue for this employer.

        This employer obviously needs these two vacancies filled, and if he deems his current hires are not performing to his satisfaction he will dismiss them and replace them with two more.

        The net affect on unemployment?

        Zero.

        Since this policy is being sold as an answer to rising unemployment this must be counted as a fail.

        To sum up the results. One mystery outcome, Two maybes, One no comment, and One fail.

        I would like to ask David Lowe of the EMA:

        Yes you made it clear that employers like this scheme, But did anyone at all, actually get a permanent job from any of the five anecdotes you submitted as ‘evidence’?

        Is this outcome even important to you, or your organisation?

  15. Rex Widerstrom 15

    there is a difference between being right and being popular

    “There go my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.” (M. Gandhi, quoting Alexandre Ledru-Rollin (1848))

  16. tsmithfield 16

    I guess there is always a certain amount of this in politics Rex. Politicians are supposed to be sensitive to the concerns of the people they represent.

    I guess the skill in politics is to understand the essence of those concerns, come up with a solution that actually achieves some positive outcomes, and frame the answer in a way that connects with people.

    I think National is doing much better in this respect than Labour at the moment, as the polls suggest.

  17. Herodotus 17

    “Trevor Mallard says:
    July 15, 2010 at 9:11 pm
    The NZEI made claims based on teachers with better qualifications getting paid more the government agreed. Get over it.”
    So we have a lab MP after supporting the abolution of youth rates, so anyone performing a work task is paid the same rate, now we have this MP now supporting a differential of pay not from performance or ability to perform that task (In this case teaching) but on qualifications. Be it a degreee or a certificate in teahing both have achieved the technical ability to teach yet at there is a continuing pay differential exceeding $12k p.a. at the top of the scale. So does this indicate that some in Lab also believe in Fairness at Work?
    For what it is worth only crap coys would play the rolling of staff every 3 months to save money, and they deserve that they get named and shamed with the eventual result of going under, or modify their behaviour (Then we all win in sorts). Most though invest in their workforce and why would you flick on workers that you and they have jointly made an invesment in the coy (Be it financial or emotional). Yet there should be some balancing safeguards with the ability of unions to have axcess to workplaces so as to guage the coys work conditions, inform staff of (diminishing) rights, even assist management (?????) and to be as mentioned above to name and shame the bad apples.

    • Gosman 17.1

      As I have stated previously on this issue the UK has had a variation of this 90 Day trial thing for a while (certainly much longer than in NZ). When I started work for an IT firm in London I was put on a 90 Day trial period and had less ‘rights’ and even compensation than people who were not on this. Noone seemed to have a problem with how this worked over there so why the fuss here?

      • Lanthanide 17.1.1

        There’s actually no reason that a company can’t do that under the existing law, if they so choose.

  18. Gooner 18

    Fairness in the workplace?

    Life’s not fair. Get used to it and get over it.

    • loota 18.1

      Quite right Gooner, I think at this rate a few business owners and senior managers will find that out before too long.

    • michaeljsavage 18.2

      No it isnt fair – and the right to protest isnt fair either is it.

      I think everyone has gotten over it – except some of us it seems

  19. Bill 19

    Kind of funny that all you ‘right wing chappies’ have jumped all through this thread repeating the drivel you dribbled on the other thread.

    So, lets try this again. You lap dog hero didn’t want to do this. But your lap dog hero’s master was withholding the treats (Party donations). So he’s done this even though he reckons it might well be the end of him.

    Smart guy.

    Always chasing that buck no matter where it takes him; attempting a blatant theft from all workers to feed party coffers.

  20. Adrian 20

    ” You might like him, but he doesn’t like you !” For all who voted for Key against their better judgement.

  21. big blouse 21

    I thought you got rid of the sick comedy act big bruv.

    [lprent: He is on holiday for a month (currently the only person on a non-permanent ban). Why do you ask? And before anyone asks, I checked the IP. ]

  22. ak 22

    Where were you that Sunday, Grandad
    When they brought in Fire at Will
    Were you standing upright then
    Was your voice your own, still?

    Did you see the pearls and furs
    As they sipped their crystal flutes
    Did they cackle in their glory
    Wiping spittle from their suits?

    Did a shadow pass their eyes
    When they felt your firm reproof
    Did you give them pause that day
    Or did they spit upon the truth?

    Do you think they glimpsed it then
    In that gilded plastic den
    The coming storm before the calm
    The beginning of their end?

    Where were you that Sunday, Grandad?

  23. Emp 23

    haha you socialist labour lapdogs are so predictable. Losers have nothing better to do than protest a party conference. Shows nats still in charge and setting the agenda and you labour flunkies are reactive, you dicks won’t get near government if you keep letting national set the agenda. But you’re too stupid.

    Oh and when you dicks say national’s backers refused funding and use your own post to back it up then that’s not blogging that’s making shit up. Read your about policy losers. Ooooh look I just channelled PRENT.


    IrishBill: and that’s you banned.

  24. Jenny 24

    The CTU call for a protest rally outside the National Party conference being held in the Sky City casino complex this Sunday at 10am.
    But as yet, not one of the parliamentary parties of the Left have posted information on the CTU called protest. As a simple act of solidarity with the union movement. Does anyone know why this hasn’t been done?

  25. Jenny 25

    From stuff.co.nz

    Florence Cohen did not realise anything was wrong at her Saturday job at Waikanae’s Take Note stationery shop till the last day of her 90-day probation period.
    “I was working eight or nine-hour shifts every Saturday. On the final week [of the 90 days], five minutes before the end of my shift, they took me out back and gave me a letter saying I was dismissed.”

    Florence, a 17-year-old in year 12 at Paraparaumu College, said she enlisted the help of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, which challenged the dismissal.

    In a second letter, her employers listed faults with her work, which she says were never raised with her previously. “They didn’t say that I was doing anything wrong at the time and so I thought I was totally fine.”

    She believes that extending the 90-day provision will allow more workers to be dismissed without being told there is a problem.

    “I think it’s going to hurt anyone who wants to go for a job. A lot of people are going to get dragged into this and if they only go for jobs where there is no 90-day trial, then that’s going to limit them, and if it goes to bigger companies, then that’s going to limit them more.”

    capcha – signals

  26. Xiao Banfa 26

    Has Labour said they’ll restore the right of entry once they’re in power?

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