Written By: - Date published: 7:33 am, November 1st, 2014 - 43 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, workers' rights - Tags: EEO Commissioner, jackie blue, screwing the workers, tea breaks
A sad day for New Zealand workers on Thursday:
Right to smoko removed
A law change bringing in far-reaching workplace reforms, including the removal of the statutory right to meal breaks and smokos, has passed its final hurdle in Parliament today.
Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Commissioner Jackie Blue – who happens to be an ex Nat MP – posted yesterday on the Human Rights Commission Website. Blue saw some positive aspects to the law change (e.g. “the right for all to request flexible work hours”) but was highly critical over all:
“Unfortunately this Act is a step backward from New Zealand’s compliance with international human rights obligations to protect worker’s rights. New Zealand regularly emerges as one of the least regulated labour markets in the world. It is difficult to understand the justification for even further deregulation,” Dr Blue said.
“The Act weakens the ability of unions to negotiate on behalf of workers. This is likely to be detrimental to the role of unions in advancing fairness and equity.
“The Act now enables employers to walk away from collective bargaining. Such a change undermines New Zealand’s longstanding commitment to the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
The result could be a less collaborative and productive workplace where mutually beneficial agreements can no longer be freely negotiated, invariably impacting on economic development and prosperity.
I think Blue has done an excellent job of summarising the consequences (there’s more in the full piece). This is the choice that National has made, as the first legislation of their new term, to trade off these consequences for the few extra pennies that unscrupulous employers can screw out of mistreating their workers.