Kia kaha

Written By: - Date published: 1:55 pm, December 9th, 2008 - 34 comments
Categories: maori party, national, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

The Greens have joined in opposing National’s “Fire at Will” Bill which they say puts “jobs and democracy at stake”. They’re calling on the Maori Party to stand strong in its previous opposition to the bill. Only two years ago Hone Harawira said when voting against it:

[O]ur journey with this bill has not been an easy one, but in the end our commitment to upholding fundamental human rights was a driving force in our decision. We simply could not support removing the right to mediation and dropping the right to appeal bad decisions. The Māori Party supports the right for everyone in Aotearoa to take a chance, but the risks we would be taking in letting this particular rocket fly are simply too great to be acceptable, and for all these reasons the Māori Party will be happily voting against this bill. 

Hone was the only one of the four previous Maori Party MPs to vote against the bill at every stage – though his colleagues did finally vote against it when it mattered most. Here’s hoping they find the courage to do so again.

34 comments on “Kia kaha”

  1. Fire at will Bill?????

    I wouldn’t want facts to get in the way of a good argument?

  2. Tane 2

    Brett – under the bill workers could be fired at will, and there’s nothing they could do about it. Sounds like ‘fire at will’ to me.

  3. Billy 3

    “Democracy at stake”.

    FFS. How does this Bill impact on democracy?

  4. IrishBill 4

    Because it sets a precedent for pushing though legislation that will materially affect a lot of New Zealanders and it does so without any consultation with them or their representatives.

  5. Billy 5

    I think that that precendent was well-established already, IB.

    IrishBill: By what?

  6. Ya got to be more positive Tane, why would an employer just want to fire someone for the sake of it???

    This is a 90 day safety net for employers. If an employee is not working out, then the employer should have the right to fire them, without lawyers or unions getting involved.

    What do you really think is going to happen? As soon as this passes, employers will start firing?

    Surly you must of have worked with some dumb asses who weren’t pulling their weight??

  7. “I wouldn’t want facts to get in the way of a good argument?”

    Brett, what would those facts be?

  8. Lew 8

    BD: If they wouldn’t want to do it, why do they want legislation to enable it?

    One other matter to consider is that the māori party’s votes are only symbolically relevant in this case – NACT has the numbers. I see no reason why they’d change their vote to support the measure.

    As for democracy – Kate Wilkinson’s point is a good one; Mapp’s bill already went through select committee, so due diligence has been conducted upon it, and the way is clear for it to be passed if the house sees fit to do so. I think it’s bad policy and will be deleterious, but it’s not as if they’re springing the bill on NZ unawares. And that’s if it’s actually Mapp’s bill – a question about which there seems to be some dispute.

    L

  9. Tane 9

    why would an employer just want to fire someone for the sake of it???

    They don’t for the sake of it. But people get fired and mistreated for more than poor performance, and you know that. You’re also assuming employers are entirely rational in their actions – they’re not. Are you denying that people are sacked unfairly under the current law?

    Surly you must of have worked with some dumb asses who weren’t pulling their weight??

    Yes, and the way to deal with that is through proper management – not by removing my rights to cover up for your management failures.

  10. Tane 10

    Lew. The bill has been revised since it went to select committee. It now only covers workers in businesses with fewer than 20 staff, but we don’t know whether that covers teachers (different MPs give different answers) or whether it covers employees in a Subway franchise with fewer than 20 staff.

    We’ve been told there are ‘good faith’ and ‘human rights’ protections, but we don’t know what those mean. All we have is 90 words in their pre-election policy document.

    So, a lot to discuss at select committee.

  11. ieuan 11

    ‘Yes, and the way to deal with that is through proper management – not by removing my rights to cover up for your management failures.’

    Your rights? My guess is you have been doing your job for more than 90 days so how are your rights being removed?

    I’m also kind of sick of your ‘management failures’ line, this bill will only affect those people who don’t meet the work expectations of the position they have been given, it only takes away the rights of those who underperform.

  12. Lew 12

    Tane: Ok, that changes things a bit. However, not greatly enough to constitute an attack on democracy, in my view. Let’s not resort to the lurid hyperbole favoured by the former opposition, eh?

    L

  13. I think employers need a safety net, if someone is costing them money, they should have the right to let them go in the first 90 days, there will be very few occasions that a employer would fire someone who has just started if their work was up to scratch.

    Im sure 90-95% of employers would try to look at different training methods if an employee wasn’t doing their job right.

    This bill is to help them with the complete jack asses who are costing them money and have no hope of getting better.

  14. Lew 14

    ieuan: this bill will only affect those people who don’t meet the work expectations of the position they have been given, it only takes away the rights of those who underperform.

    No, this will take away the rights of everyone who, in their employer’s sole discretion, should for any reason or none at all be deemed unworthy of a job. Performance doesn’t come into it.

    L

  15. Tane 15

    Lew, I don’t personally think it’s an “attack on democracy”, but I certainly think it’s undemocratic to ram through such a major change without discussion.

  16. ieuan 16

    ‘No, this will take away the rights of everyone who, in their employer’s sole discretion, should for any reason or none at all be deemed unworthy of a job. Performance doesn’t come into it.’

    Since it is at the employers sole discretion whether to give them a job in the first place why should that change so dramatically once the job is given?

    And how is someone ‘unworthy of a job’? Not suitable for the position they have been given, maybe, but hardly ‘unworthy of a job’?

    Performance doesn’t come into it – OK so what does? Have you tried to employ people lately? Once you find the right person you want to hang on to them not sack them for no reason.

    Now it is an ‘attack on democracy’, it also ‘takes away all worker rights’ and ‘affects hundreds of thousands of people’, any more over the top, ridiculous statements that the people at ‘The Standard’ want to roll out?

    Honestly since National won the election you guys have gone feral.

  17. The standard is turning into “The Free republic” the right wing American political board.

    They are all screaming , doom and gloom that thier guy didnt get in, and every move that Obama makes is a disaster

    You guys are doing the same thing about Key.

    [lprent: Perhaps you should look at what is expected in the role of an opposition. The issues that posters pick are based on their opinions, but as the About says, it is from a selected sample from the general labour movement. Are there any parts of the labour movement that view the coming of national with pleasure? ]

  18. Janet 18

    My bet is that the Maori Party are so enjoying the baubles of office that they will support it. They will follow the Govt line that Kate Wilkinson was expressing on National radio earlier today that it has been softened since the days of the Mapp Bill. So the Maori party will say it is now acceptable. This will be the beginning of the Maori party’s fragmenting into factions as this bill is against everything Hone Harawira, particularly, stands for. And Maori workers are among the most vulnerable to these provisions.

  19. Lew 19

    ieuan: Since it is at the employers sole discretion whether to give them a job in the first place why should that change so dramatically once the job is given?

    It’s a matter of risk, and who bears that risk – essentially this is a transfer of risk from employers to employees. Turn it around – why should employers not feel the need to conduct due diligence on prospective employees, and why should employees suffer for employers’ failure to properly vet their hires?

    Performance doesn’t come into it – OK so what does? Have you tried to employ people lately? Once you find the right person you want to hang on to them not sack them for no reason.

    As it happens, a large part of my job for the past year has been building a crew of people – which I did, hiring about a dozen people. This is a pretty specialised field and several hires didn’t work out. All left of their own accord on fairly good terms because they were properly managed and given clear expectations. But do you really think I should have the right to fire a few more because they’re Crusaders supporters, or because they wear white shirts with blue cuffs, or because they have an annoying cellphone ring? All perfectly legitimate dismissals under the proposed measure. That ain’t right.

    L

  20. Janet: And Maori workers are among the most vulnerable to these provisions.

    Please explain this statement, and do you have data to back it up?

  21. Leftie 21

    So if the Maori Party don’t support this again, the law will not pass?

  22. QoT 22

    Since it is at the employers sole discretion whether to give them a job in the first place why should that change so dramatically once the job is given?

    Because no one’s ever been fired for not putting out to the boss, or raising a fuss over discriminatory practices, or joining a union, or getting pregnant. Oh wait, I mean “not meeting the expectations of the job”. God forbid we hold employers accountable to establish what those expectations are and exactly how they are to be met.

  23. Tane 23

    So if the Maori Party don’t support this again, the law will not pass?

    It’ll still pass, but by a smaller margin. And it’ll show where the Maori Party really stands on workers’ rights.

  24. Leftie 24

    Brett Dale,

    Do you have the data to back up claims that there is actually a genuine problem with the current law? All I’ve seen and heard so far are the apocryphal rantings of supposedly dissaffected small businessmen and their NACT pals? Where is the data?

  25. jbc 25

    Lew: Turn it around – why should employers not feel the need to conduct due diligence on prospective employees, and why should employees suffer for employers’ failure to properly vet their hires?

    What about prospective employees who are first-time job seekers? How about those without glowing references? Do you suggest that employers should steer clear of these people? What becomes of them?

    You are fortunate that you have not hired someone who turns out to be a sour one – and who won’t let go easily. Not everyone is rational.

    Does the current law allow you to sack someone for just being irritable and sour? One who gradually destroys your carefully built team as they all come to realise that they can not work with miss grumpy and so tender their resignations? One who would take a dismissal as a challenge?

  26. ieuan 26

    From the Herald website:

    EPMU national secretary Andrew Little said the “fire at will legislation” was an attack on all Kiwi workers.

    “National’s fire at will policy is being sold as a ‘probation’ period. It’s not. The current employment law already allows for a probation period including a fair process to protect employees from abuse, all National is proposing is to take away the fair process.”

    How does the existing law allow for a probation period? You can have a limited term contract based on a job or project that has a limited or fixed term but this is not a probation period. Other than that there is no probation period and if you are unhappy with someone you have recently employed you have to go through the whole assessment, retraining, reassessment thing before you finally get to the point where you can make them redundant (assuming that the training etc has failed) and you are not going to end up in the employment court.

    Please if I am wrong point out to me how you can have a probation period under the current law.

  27. Ari 27

    I think employers need a safety net, if someone is costing them money, they should have the right to let them go in the first 90 days, there will be very few occasions that a employer would fire someone who has just started if their work was up to scratch.

    They already have such a safety net- it just doesn’t extend to protecting them from being sued if someone can establish that they were unfairly fired. (which is quite hard to do, as in practice you need evidence or reliable testimony to rule out a whole bunch of reasons you could be fairly fired)

    The improvements listed make the bill somewhat better than before, (for instance, they plan to let you hold an employer accountable for sexual harassment and other discrimination) but the problem is essentially still that you can be fired, and even if you can prove there was no performance-based reason, you still have no right to hold your employer accountable under this legislation. That’s simply not fair.

  28. Lew 28

    jbc: What about prospective employees who are first-time job seekers? How about those without glowing references? Do you suggest that employers should steer clear of these people? What becomes of them?

    Two issues: First, it remains a management issue. A competent interviewer can achieve a fairly high hit-rate even without recourse to work history or references. Second, it’s perfectly possible under current law to hire staff on short-term contracts with the possibility of renewal pending acceptable performance and conduct.

    L

  29. Leftie:

    Yes there is a problem, the amount of people I have worked with in the past, who werent pulling their weight, but couldn’t be sacked is amazing, its not fair for the workers who are.

  30. DeeDub 30

    Oh, ok Brett, your experience of the world is the ‘correct’ one after all…. sorry we doubted you.

    The current law is an ass because Brett says so everyone….

  31. gomango 31

    Brett

    Janet’s comment And Maori workers are among the most vulnerable to these provisions. is a perfect example of the old school, old labour (and I guess current Labour) and yes old national paternalistic view of maori. You know, you can’t really expect Maori to stand on their own feet – we actually know what is best for them. It’s a terrible attitude, and seeing the actions/plans of the Maori party and the attitude of new mp’s like lotu-liga, paula bennett etc shows how outdated that thinking is.

    The reality of this bill will I think be net positive. The biggest argument for it is the chance it gives otherwise marginal employee prospects a chance to illustrate to an employee they are capable and worth hiring. A job is not actually a right – it is a two way contract. Yes the new bill may be taken advantage of by crap employers – they are the same crap employers who currently exist, currently do crap things they generally get away with, which are bad for their business in the long run. The new law may allow them to act a little crappier than usual but they are a very small minority and the overall benefits to the economy, to employers and to workers should well outweigh the drawbacks.

    Listened to Kerre Woodham in the car this evening on the way home from work – almost drove off the road in my surprise at the whole hearted support she gave the bill.

  32. Tane 32

    gomango – people refer to Maori workers tending to be more vulnerable not because they’re Maori but because of their socio-economic situation.

    Oh, and Kerre Woodham’s a lightweight.

  33. Pascal's bookie 33

    Hone Harawira, 29 August 2006:

    Last week, the Maori Party caucus decided we would not support the 90-Day Employment Probation Bill introduced by National MP, Wayne Mapp, and that we would vote against it when it comes back to the House. …

    …The most vulnerable would suffer: young people with few skills; the tens of thousands of unemployed who want a job; the many thousands in low-skill jobs with no bargaining strength; and the hundreds of thousands in work who want to change jobs. And of course Maori, who make up a large sector of the unemployed, and the low-skilled workforce would be particularly vulnerable to this legislation.
    …This Bill is a recipe for the slave days and we’re all better off without it.

    (emphasis mine).

    http://maoriparty.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=492&Itemid=73

    That is what Janet was talking about I’d guess. But Brett and gomango obviously know better than Hone Harawira, who is just as obviously, an old school paternalist who thinks he knows what’s better for Maori than, well, gomango, Brett and the National Party….

  34. jbc 34

    Lew: Two issues: First, it remains a management issue. A competent interviewer can achieve a fairly high hit-rate even without recourse to work history or references.

    Let’s not forget we’re talking about small business here. They won’t necessarily be expert hirers.

    For those of you who would suggest that a small business person who is not a hiring expert or employment law expert should not be in business: lose the superior attitude.

    Just for fun: I’d say an “employer license” would be a good idea (with an exam on employment law) – as long as it was introduced along with an “employee license” (same exam).

    Second, it’s perfectly possible under current law to hire staff on short-term contracts with the possibility of renewal pending acceptable performance and conduct.

    Ditto, small biz. No HR department. No in-house employment lawyer.

    I thought that employing people as fixed-term contractors where a permanent position exists was not legal (or at least deemed to be permanent employment in the view of employment law) – but then IANAL. 🙂

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