A bit of confusion yesterday re Labour’s position on the fire at will (90 day trial) law. Mid day it was widely reported that:
Labour would retain 90-day trial periods, but make them fairer – Little
Andrew Little appears to have made an about turn on labour law reform, ruling out abolishing the 90-day trial period for workers. The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has called on Labour to clarify its position and the Government is accusing Little of “weasel words”.
At a breakfast in Upper Hutt on Friday, Little was asked about Labour’s position on 90 day trial period, in which employers can dismiss workers. “Our policy is to add a fairness requirement,” Little said.
Any changes would not have a significant impact on employers, Little said. “There won’t be any new onerous obligations in that regard, but it will make it fairer and we will write that into law.”
Naturally there was concern on the left, glee on the right, as summed up by the Labour and National youth branches:
— Giovanni Tiso (@gtiso) July 17, 2015
Late in the evening there was a claim on Twitter that Little had been misreported:
— tane phillips (@PhillipsTane) July 17, 2015
Hold up, apparently Little was misreported. The fire at will law will go under a Labour government.
— Morgan Godfery (@MorganGodfery) July 17, 2015
Good to hear. https://t.co/CH37MbJUxJ
— Helen Kelly (@helenkellyCTU) July 17, 2015
It appears I owe @nzlabour an apology. Good. That's far better than seeing them betray their values
— Idiot/Savant (@norightturnnz) July 17, 2015
I hope we get some clarity on this today. I would not be surprised if the original report of a change in policy turns out to be correct, the quotes from Little seem pretty specific. I think that Labour has to “swallow some dead rats” to get traction again, and this may be one of them. It worked for National, who swallowed “communism by stealth”, and got to run the country for 7 years and counting.
While I know that this “centrist” approach angers the activist base I personally don’t have much problem with it. Let Labour chase the center, let The Greens chase the left, then let MMP work its magic and we’ll get the government and the laws that we need.
Andrew Little comments in an email to party members:
“During the press conference that followed I was asked about our position on the 90 day trial period. Labour has not, and does not, support the 90 day law as it stands. It is unfair and needs to change. As part of our overall policy review we are working with businesses, workers and their unions about how fair trial periods will work.
Labour is not opposed to trial periods where they provide opportunities for those who might not otherwise get them and where they are applied fairly. That kind of trial period has been provided for in our law for many decades, but the law National brought in is unfair and we will change it.”