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Fire at will causing discrimination already

Written By: - Date published: 3:42 pm, March 4th, 2009 - 32 comments
Categories: greens, workers' rights - Tags: ,

The Herald reports the fire at will law is already claiming victims, after Sue Bradford revealed a beneficiary has been denied help for his job relocation costs because Work and Income considered his 90 day ‘trial’ period to mean he was a temporary rather than a permanent worker.

Work and Income said it had concerns he would be unable to find another job if a 90-day trial period he faced did not work out, so instead of giving him the $900 bond he need for relocation he and his family were forced to stay in a camping ground for three weeks.

As usual, Bradford is on the money:

“This man is committed to getting off the benefit and into paid work. He’s moved cities and is trying to do his best for his family. All jobseekers deserve to be treated the same, whether the employment they secure is under the 90-day rule or not.”

Yep, it’s pretty shit. But I suspect it won’t be the last we’ll hear of people facing discrimination from government agencies and employers because of the fire at will law. That’s what happens when you ram through legislation under urgency and refuse to let the public have its say.

32 comments on “Fire at will causing discrimination already ”

  1. Billy 1

    That’s what happens when you ram through legislation under urgency and refuse to let the public have its say.

    Umm. That election we had, you know, the one during which Naitonal campaigned on its 90 day law, surely people got a say then. And they elected the party that propsoed the law. And that party continues to enjoy substantial support.

    That democracy. It’s so inconvenient.

    • MikeG 1.1

      No Billy, democracy is more than just a vote every 3 years. It’s about participation, including following a process that allows input on legislation.

  2. Tane 2

    Billy. They hardly ‘campaigned’ on it, it was tucked away at the back of their industrial relations policy. But the issue isn’t that, it’s that it wasn’t raised at all as an issue in the 100 day plan, was given to Parliament near hours before it was put to vote, and there was no select committee process to iron out any problems.

    It’s highly irregular, and arguably unconstitutional, to pass major legislation taking away people’s rights without any form of public input or scrutiny. People didn’t vote for that.

    • Billy 2.1

      I guess that’d explain why the polls showing people deserting National in droves. Oh, hang on…

  3. Julie 3

    I’ve also encountered through my work someone who was told in January that the IEA they had been offered was not the final version, as it would be re-written to put in a 90 day trial period. Despite the fact that the law didn’t come into effect until 1st March, while the job started well before then.

    There are likely to be a whole lot of people out there who are discriminated against by this law legally (and immorally imho), but also illegally by widespread misinterpretation and misuse of the 90 day period. I foresee a whole lot of personal grievances in about three to six months’ time… Sadly though most of the people disadvantaged won’t be union members so they’re unlikely to get the help or support they need.

    • higherstandard 3.1

      “Sadly though most of the people disadvantaged won’t be union members so they’re unlikely to get the help or support they need.”

      No that’s unfair on the unions – they’ve said they’ll back anyone unfairly dismissed member on non member.

  4. Johnty Rhodes 4

    I thought the public had their say on 8 November, it was policy after all in the election manifesto.

    [lprent: I’m going to start treating that statement as being a troll line. The line is repetitious and blatantly incorrect.They didn’t get elected with a policy to ignore parliamentary process (ie select committees) which is what they did to pass this law. Point that out in the ‘policy’ that they released prior to election.]

  5. dave 5

    A few of things.

    1. There is no evidence that WINZ staff used legislation lawfully in terms of the decision it reportedly took – which is nothing unusual.
    2. You neglected to state that WINZ spent more money putting them in a camping ground that it would have cost them in bond payment. Sounds like irresponsible use of money to me.

    3. Work and Income did not consider his 90 day ‘trial’ period to mean he was a temporary rather than a permanent worker. They thought that he was more likely to lose his permanent job if the working relationship went belly up and they couldn’t be bothered following up to make sure it wasn’t, as the Social Security Act allows for. In fact there is no evidence that WINZ even knew whether that employee had agreed to the 90- day clause or not. If nothing was signed with the 90 day clause in the contract this blog post is irrelevant.

    So this has got nothing to do with the law – perhaps a rather inaccurate and assumptive interpretation of it. And as some WINZ staff cant even explain the distinction between legislation and policy, its not surprising.

    I have a post on related issues in terms of how the law should be applied here.

    [Tane: Dave, read Bradford’s release – http://www.greens.org.nz/node/20662 ]

    • Akldnut 5.1

      Dave – you mention a good point in number 2. I’m guessing like most Winz payments that he has to pay back the loan that was forwarded him to pay rent at the camping ground.
      Then if the job becomes permanent he’ll need another loan to pay for a bond startup package for his new house thereby incurring more debt?

  6. Julie 6

    hs, part of the problem is that many people won’t know they are being ripped off or treated unfairly, and even if they do they won’t feel they can do anything about it, because they are not currently in a union and have that experience of the change you can make. I hope the CTU is able to step up and help people regardless of union membership, but they can’t help the ones they never know about.

    And I seem to recall that in the election campaign there were rather a lot of mixed messages from National about how this law might work, eg that the education sector would be excluded (which it hasn’t been). What were we to believe and what were we to discard from the mangled mess of their policies?

    • I have a feeling that sooner or later people are going to find out and then there is going to be a whole heap of trouble. We’re a big country with only a few people and there’s always going to be more workers than bosses.

  7. Johnty Rhodes 7

    You lefties make me laugh, you bleat about a bill that will not affect a hell of a lot of people, sure the odd deadbeat will be fired and a v. small minority of employers will abuse the law. But now we hear that ACC is in-solvent, this will affect everyone with substantial levy increases.

  8. The public had its say at the election booth, you lost, deal with it.

  9. Joel 9

    No need to get so repetitive about the election. The argument is not the election which is clear from comments and the article.

    Its the process which was NOT FOLLOWED. I.e. select committees. Or is National above the process because they were elected?

  10. It’s National choice not to have a select committe for every freakin issue, they are the government you know.

    • Tane 10.1

      A charming disdain you have for the democratic process Brett. Personally I’d prefer not to live in an elected dictatorship.

      [lprent: He complains about this elected dictatorship periodically. It is ‘elected’ because I didn’t elect to run a mile when someone asked for some tech backup…]

  11. Julie 11

    Johnty, surely whether or not someone is a “deadbeat” is somewhat in the eye of the beholder? For my money you are looking a bit like one to me right now… 😉

    So is it ok for even a “v. small minority of employers” to abuse this law? What happened to zero tolerance?

  12. Ianmac 12

    If you asked 100 people if they voted for National because they were bringing in the 90 day fire at will, I am sure that you would be lucky to find 1! Therefore it is silly to blanket everything with a mandate to do all. Many voted because John Key seemed like a nice man.
    That sounds like GW Bush saying “we will do it because we can!”

  13. Dictatorships don’t have elections, National have three years to make any decisions they like, if the public agrees with those decisions, they will get another three years in power, if they don’t, another party will take over.

    • Felix 13.1

      To repeat what kitno said above:

      “So really, you cant complain about anything Labour did in it’s 9 years.”

    • Ari 13.2

      “Elected Dictatorship” is a pejorative for a government that thinks it can do whatever it likes after being elected, with no mind of constitutional convention or mandate from the electorate.

    • Actually they do. America being a case in point. you might want to read what Chalmers Johnson has to say about America’s totalitarianism but other than that let me point out that the H(itler) (to get past purgatory) was very much elected by the German people (35% of the vote). That of course stopped elections for awhile but let the economic deterioration get a little while and people might actually be stupid enough to vote for our own leader in the making David “So what” Garret in the hopes that he will take away the grinding poverty we will find ourselves in in the very near future.

      By the way, what is very interesting is that Grand daddy Bush was involved both in financing H(itler) (Hitler all of a sudden had funds enough to fly around in a plane) and a coup in the US. his grandson made the big time residing over the silent coup that allowed the bankers and the big corporations to take over completely and now even nincompoop Neo Con mouthpiece Fox talking head Glen Beck can’t even deny the existence of concentration camps in the US.

      Oh yes, Elections take place in totalitarian states alright. All you have to do is to keep the sheeple dumb enough to believe that the “elections” are real.

      Lot’s of money and lot’s of fanfare and only candidates that will follow commands of the real powers behind the throne and you are sweet. It only works of course until the sheeple wake up, that’s when the concentration camps come in handy.

      All you have to say is, that it is all those liberal lefty anarchists stirring up trouble and you can get away with murder, hell you can even make money out of it.

  14. Joel 14

    That just proves you know nothing about the democratic process nor about parliamentary process, and simply come off as an idiot.

    There are such things as parliamentary conventions, written and unwritten that need to be abided by.

  15. rave 15

    The purpose of the fire at will act is to give employers the power to create a pool of cheap temp labor. No question.

    Workers can stop this by rejecting redundancy, and rejecting cuts in wages. If the boss closes down, occupy the plant and keep it running.

    If this fails (note the realism of a fallback position) unemployed workers should make sure that are still unionised and refused to sign up to 90s.

    If WINZ cuts of the benefit then the organised unemployed should occupy WINZ in protest.

    If that fails (they all get arrested) and are forced to do the 90 days or starve, then and only then should they ring the CTU hotline for advice. Because all that advice amounts to is how to put in a personal grievance which won’t win because the law allows you to be turned into a cheap labor wage slave for 90 days and 90 days and 90 days and 90 days.

    The only way to defeat the 90 days bosses weapon to create pool of cheap slave labor is to organise and fight it as a working class movement.

    Iprent love the yankee spelling. GIves me Obama bumps.

  16. Matt 16

    We are already planning / organizing such things. The only chance workers have of reversing or nullifying this corrupt law is to fight back, and to that end we’ve bee out recruiting for the Rat Patrol for more than a month already.

    If you, or anyone you know, falls victim to this absurd law, contact us at 0800 2unite, and the Rat Patrol will take action.

  17. todd 17

    When i was 25,had 2 small kids,got a job in another town 500 miles away,had no money and to proud to borrow any.I drove myself to the new job found board and worked my ass off for a month THEN when and got my family.Seems every one is just a soft cock now,or still wearing nappies.Maybe winz knows this guys past and knows hes not going to last(id put money on it).

    • marco 17.1

      Totally agree with you Todd, the missing link in this press release is the client records. Work and Income record every transaction and will only release them if the client signs a waiver.
      It is entirely possible this may be pattern of behaviour and the case manager made a decision based on that.

  18. dave 18

    [Tane: Dave, read Bradford’s release – http://www.greens.org.nz/node/20662 ]

    What? Again? Reread a release that misrepresents the situation. I`d rather buy Cullen’s worthless train set.

  19. r0b 19

    Umm. That election we had, you know, the one during which Naitonal campaigned on its 90 day law, surely people got a say then

    I know it’s one of your favourites, but you need to stop repeating this lie Billy. Either that or come up with a single campaign advertisement or campaign speech which honestly described this policy. Having it tucked away on your web site does not count as “campaigning” on it.

    And the mandate they received from the election was a mandate to follow the standard democratic process – you know – select committee – public input – not to ream legislation through under “urgency”.

    That democracy. It’s so inconvenient.

    It’s so inconvenient to this government that they are depriving us of it. More legislation passed under urgency by this government in 100 days than by Labour in 9 years. Shame.

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