Massive changes to employment legislation announced today

Written By: - Date published: 12:15 pm, April 26th, 2013 - 137 comments
Categories: business, employment, equality, jobs, minimum wage, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

The changes announced today to employment law represent the most serious attack on the rights of working people to a fair go since 1991. As I wrote on this blog that the Bill will reduce the Employment Relations Act to a farce and the result will be wages are driven down and employment agreements broken up, with some of the most significant impact being on workers in the public sector.

It was astonishing to see the Minister’s statement this morning saying the Bill would speed up processes in the Employment Relations Authority! This is a political tactic of this Government to play down its worst legislation as “clarifications” or improvements when they are anything but.

The Bill removes the duty to conclude a collective agreement. NZ has committed to international obligations to promote collective bargaining and it is the key mechanism for distribution within a workplace or industry. This Bill will breach those obligations including where we have committed to them as part of our trade agreements.

The removal of this duty means employers are able to not only surface bargain (turn up to bargaining but have no intention of concluding a collective), but they can state a preference for individual agreements. Employers will be able to apply to the Employment Relations Authority for a ruling that bargaining is concluded. If this is granted, the collective agreement still in force (collectives run for a year after expiry to enable the parties to negotiate renewal) instantly ends, leaving workers no longer covered (let’s call this the Port of Auckland clause!). Parties then have to wait 60 days in this unprotected state before they can initiate again for a collective or take any strike action in pursuit of a collective. During this time, the employer can do all it can to undermine the union and the bargaining, or as the Port tried to do, sack the labour and contract it out. Can you also imagine the fun Talleys will have!

For workers starting and changing jobs, many go to work now and there is no collective in place. The terms they are employed under are unilaterally determined by their employer and for most, they have no option but to accept them (that is why almost 300,000 workers in the country earn on or near the minimum wage). Those lucky enough to have a job offer in a unionised site (including for example in hospitals, schools, councils, manufacturing plants, progressive supermarkets, Warehouse, meat works, Air NZ etc), have to be offered the collective conditions for the first 30 days of work so they can decide if they want to be on the collective. This provision is being axed and employers will now be able to exclude these workers altogether from collective coverage. This method will be used to de-unionise union sites and to destroy the collective agreement over time. We have seen this before and the victims are both those new workers (every worker starting a new job in places with a collective), but also those already in the workplace as the collective begins to only cover the established workforce.

The Bill also introduces a Strike Tax. Workers that take partial industrial action (say teachers refusing to take Saturday sport) can be taxed 10% of their wages even though they are still doing all the hours required of them. Fire fighters hate taking strike action – they sometimes take action like not filling in fire reports – they work their full shift – fight every fire in town – but could be taxed 10% of their pay (or more if the employer wants!) for taking this action. There is no reciprocity for a partial lock out. If an employer for example takes partial lock out action – and as a result the workers lose work and wages, there is no reciprocal penalty.

The Bill excludes employers in cleaning and hospitality that employ less than 20 employees from the transfer of undertakings provision. This was a revolution for cleaners and hospitality workers when it was introduced. Subject to instant job loss when their boss lost a cleaning or catering contract, this provision protected them by ensuring they transferred to the new employer. The Government is removing this protection. They are dreaming of a country where economic growth is built on “mum and dad” cleaning companies starting up all over the place with no obligations to the cleaning workforce. This will see the proliferation of small cleaning companies, competing for work on the price of labour, exploiting these invisible workers to the maximum and removing any hope of security of employment. Large cleaning companies will be disadvantaged if they choose to maintain their collectives and operate at a national level. They can be undercut and will be forced to drive wages down (how low can they go?).

The Bill removes the minimum entitlement to a tea break. I asked a forestry owner recently why they were working forest workers to death without proper breaks etc. He told me they could have a break when they refilled their chainsaws with gas! The Bill means these breaks will not be compulsory anymore and employers can introduce unspecified “compensatory measures” when they don’t provide for them.

The Bill allows employers to refuse to negotiate for multi-employer agreements. This is the direct attack on agreements that for example cover teachers and nurses, clerical staff in hospitals, support staff in schools etc. Kindergarten teachers and support staff can tell you the story of this when they were deregulated in the 1990’s. This will enable the Government to refuse to renegotiate these agreements when they expire.

The Bill is being introduced at a time when workers can’t live on the wages they are being paid, when safety is at an all-time low and improved conditions of employment are needed to resolve this, and when unemployment is a massive problem. This Bill works against any of these issues being improved. Wages will decrease (they did last time law like this was in play), unions will be driven out for new workers and work will become more dangerous for them, and those seeking work will be exploited because of the desperation of being unemployed. Unions increase wages and improve conditions through collective bargaining. This Bill attacks collective bargaining as a process and is totally biased in favour of bad employers.

There is no problem being address by this Bill. It is an all-out ideological statement about who the Government acts for. It is not good for business to take this low road approach and is part of our economic failure that there is little room for those that want to be better than this. I don’t expect the national business organisations to do anything but support this. I hope some major employers will speak out against it as some did the youth rates. It is time for a better approach to work in this country – today is a giant step backwards.

Today is a bad day for this country.

137 comments on “Massive changes to employment legislation announced today”

  1. framu 1

    “totally biased in favour of bad employers.”

    so just like every single piece of nact employment policy

    This is real “your either with us or against us” stuff

  2. johnm 2

    At least in Australia there are jobs and opportunities and higher pay an optimistic society. With the Key demolition gang going and our youngest and brightest getting out, N$Z (Dollars everything people don’t count) is heading to be a retiree village and not a lot else.
    Oh, I forgot there going to get 100000 of benefits in 10 years with harassment and punitive sanctions, look forward to having more and more dumpster diving destitute beggars on the streets while Yankey john happily retires to hawaii. 🙂

    • Dicklr 2.1

      Us Kiwis accuse foreign workers for using us as a backdoor into Australia, but with a government led by such an idiot, how can we blame them? I bet they did not plan it that way originally. Even I don’t feel safe in this country anymore. We are being setup for an industrial foreign take-over.

      Watch this space in a couple of years.

  3. Bill 3

    -sigh- If only people had it in them to raise merry hell….

  4. quartz 4

    The reason the ERA was acceptable was the good faith provisions. By removing good faith and effectively exempting employers from having to play by the rules National has also removed any incentive for organised labor to play clean and fair. It’s going to get really, really, really nasty.

  5. tc 5

    “Today is a bad day for this country” pretty much as every day has been since they blagged their way into power in 08 on the back of a BS campaign about a brighter future.

  6. BLiP 6

    And another one for the list, thank’s John, I’m lovin it . . .

    National believes employment law should treat all parties fairly. It should . . . Protect employees and employers.

  7. Peter 7

    Time to call a general strike, if that power still exists anywhere in this country?

  8. Tim 8

    Now….. we need to hear from the one trick ponies Robertson/Shearer WHAT exactly they intend to do about this sort of thing once they gain the Treasury benches – especially in light of the blunder Chris Trotter has outlined re Robertson and NZ Power proposals.
    These are the sorts of things Labour needs to start dealing with and outlining for an electorate waiting to see that there is indeed a viable alternative.
    Let’s hope we hear soon. For me, it’s already too late for Labour to expect my vote at the next election (ESPECIALLY given Robertson’s latest little ooopsie), but I am hoping some time in the future they may actually get their shit together.

    • Peter 8.1

      Well, lets also hope that the union movement doesn’t repeat the failure of 1991, by failing to fire the shots that it possessed at the times. Political gunpowder decays if it doesn’t get used.

      Fortunately, I think the CTU is far better led these days than when in the hands of the supposedly Red Ken.

    • Lanthanide 8.2

      Hopefully their answer is that they would just out-and-out repeal this bill within the first 90 takes of taking office.

      Reading Helen’s summary above, there’s not a single point that I think is worth keeping, or modifying in some way.

      • Colonial Viper 8.2.1

        Judging by Labour’s ERA response to the ECA, you can expect the Tory changes to be reversed by roughly half.

    • Murray Olsen 8.3

      I suspect the Labour front bench think unions are just a recruitment agency for prospective MPs. Any of them that were involved in unions probably only did it as a career move. It’s going to be up to the unions themselves to stop this, along with a few Labour backbenchers, Mana, the Greens, and other militant leftists. Shearer probably thinks UN conventions are sufficient to protect workers’ rights.

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    Union membership is workers insurance against these Tory changes.

  10. Enough is Enough 10

    Mr Shearer, This is a political gift handed to you on a plate.

    You are the leader or the Labour Party. The Party that was created for the interests of workers. Notwithstanding the fact the Labour Party has forgotten since the 70’s who it stands for, now is your chance to fight these oppresive reforms and stand up for the workers of Aotearoa.

    Forget about GCSB, Ian Fletcher, John Key et all, for now. This issue can define you and make the Labour Party the movement it should be with you as its figure head.

    • karol 10.1

      Enough is Enough: Mr Shearer, This is a political gift handed to you on a plate.

      Exactly! And ditto for the rest of Team Shearer: Robertson et al.

      Now is not the time for appeasement. Stand up for all workers; be prepared for a major stoush.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        No guts, no glory. I’m not holding my breath however as Labour has no come back against Tory claims that these are merely “sensible changes” designed to “create jobs”.

        • AmaKiwi 10.1.1.1

          Not holding my breath either because this is the way the rotating dictatorship game is played.

          When we are in power, we screw your supporters to within an inch of their lives.

          If/When you get in power you try to turn the tables.

          The system is not working. We need intelligent legislation instead of “Fuck you, I’m in charge and will do whatever I want.”

          • Enough is Enough 10.1.1.1.1

            When Labour is in power (or at least the last two times they have been) they bend over backwards to not spook the elite. They throw a few bones to their supporters but in reality they have preserved the sytem which has transferred the nations wealth to a very small minority.

            National on the other hand, get into power and reward their grass roots supporters, (Farmers, Business Elite, Polluters etc…) without giving two shits about those who have voted against them.

            Labour can learn a few lessons from National in how to look after those you represent. When we get back into power we should not give two shits about how much wealth we are redistributing from the rich who have stolen it from the workers in the past 30 years.

            • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1.1.1

              Labour’s too busy ingratiating itself with the elites and the capitalists. The simple realisation is: if they are acting like they are your friends, you’re doing it wrong.

          • tc 10.1.1.1.2

            the left or what passes for it in NZ do no such thing, The right did well under the 9 years of Clark and other labour govts as they attempt to be fair to all sides if not particularly radical when it comes to reversing such clusterf!£€s as the Bradford reforms, TVNZ etc etc.

            It’s the NACT who have persisted with this winner takes all approach and EisE is correct that Labour could learn from them on how to get what you want done however they do lack the ‘business leader’ contacts required to pull the SOE’s etc into line.

      • Paul 10.1.2

        Mr Shearer, National accuse you of extremism.
        Pot. Kettle. Black.
        Make a sentence of out it and challenge this nonsense.

      • North 10.1.3

        Karol…….Stop It !!!!!

    • prism 10.2

      Enough is enough
      Well said.

    • Rich the other 10.3

      There will be a small delay before he stands up, He’ll have to ask the greens first, and they will ask Clint.

  11. asd 11

    The last few nails are being hammered in to this governments coffin. If they survive after next years general election I will be very surprised. It seems that everyone everywhere is unhappy about them now, and this will flow through to the polls very quickly once momentum builds.
    Labour must seize the advantage here and remove Shearer soon to add to this momentum. A new, strong, fresh leadership team and more bold policies to counter the neo-liberals are a must to regain the treasury benches. The lost vote must be recovered too.

    • freedom 11.1

      New Zealand is not a teeter totter, there are other options. Difficult as it is these days, reality can still rear its head because truth is truth. Both National and Labour where first time Governments, once.
      perhaps it is simply time for some other groups to have the reins for a while.

      • muzza 11.1.1

        Thats right Freedom, but it can’t come from inside the existing parliament, they are tainted, owned and hardly even NZ’ers, in many cases!

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.2

        Yes, it is. A party with no connection to the rich.

      • AmaKiwi 11.1.3

        @ freedom Here’s an alternative

        The Five Star Movement in Italy started only 3 years ago and now has 25% of the seats in parliament. Five Star won’t go into coalition because they believe the people should decide, not the politicians.

        If the NZ center decided our labor relations laws (by internet or postal ballots) instead of the right (Nats) and the left (Labour), what would they decide? What would they say about expanded powers for GCSB? Asset sales? Key’s holiday highway versus rail loop for Auckland? TPPA?

        I would trust the majority more than I trust either National OR Labour.

    • Colonial Viper 11.2

      The Labour/Greens NZ Power policy is reasonably social democratic policy. Are we going to see more and stronger? We definitely need it but who knows if they will deliver.

      Or as Robertson seems to be saying – that’s our one and only shot, don’t expect anything more.

      Personally I think Labour is two strong policy releases away from a landslide in 2014, will it go guts for glory or will it play a tip toeing middle of the road game.

      • Draco T Bastard 11.2.1

        I’d bet on the tip-toeing middle of the road game as it tries to appease the sociopaths that vote for National.

    • AmaKiwi 11.3

      @ asd

      “The last few nails are being hammered in to this governments coffin.”

      I wish you were right but the workers who are going to be hurt by this were never going to vote Nats.

      Some people watch rugby. I watch The Standard. Is there any difference? Neither of us change the game.

    • Jane Vile 11.4

      Jacinda for prime minister

  12. enn 12

    All this the day after we remember all those who gave their lives so we could live in a free and democratic country…….

  13. Descendant Of Sssmith 13

    They pay the bosses while they are whining about the workers, they pay the bosses while they are on the golf course, they pay the bosses when profit goes up and give em a raise even when profit goes down, they pay the shareholders who don’t actually do a days work in the business at all, they pay Te workers while they are on annual leave or sick leave, they pay workers on ANZAC day, they pay shop assistants when there is no customers, they pay fireman when there are no fires to put out, they pay farm boys while they are shagging sheep in the back paddock.

    There’s plenty of people get paid when they are not actually working.

    Trouble is you want slaves not workers.

    Farm boy wants to be “massa”.

    • prism 13.1

      Descendant of Sssss dischord
      What are you on about? If you don’t want policies that are supportive of workers having a good job, working safely for a good wage with reasonable conditions and able to rise to a more than living wage, with some left over to enjoy and better themselves – then don’t bother about spreading your thought viruses here.

      • Descendant Of Sssmith 13.1.1

        That was a response to the obnoxious post by farm boy which somehow ended up on the wrong thread.

        He was moaning about paying workers while not working.

        How it got here I don’t know and it’s not here in any sort of context so bemused you should be.

        At the same time I was responding Irepent was banning him so the response is likely totally irrelevant now. Sorry for any confusion.

        The law changes are utterly wrong for the record.

        • prism 13.1.1.1

          DoS
          Oh okay. As I said – dischord – I hadn’t remembered similar from you before so was surprised. Sometimes the sarc comments are too good and one can’t tell them from the non tongue in cheek.

          But I think I have read farm boy deliver a load of steaming pig s..t before.

          • ghostrider888 13.1.1.1.1

            16:13 (The Emperor) takes pleasure in honest lips; he values a person who speaks the truth. 😉

  14. hedonismbot 14

    Damn the proles !

    Where’s my Krug and saffron bath ?

  15. handle 15

    If Labour do not strongly oppose this, they deserve everything they get.

  16. Saarbo 16

    What a horrible direction that this National Party is legislating towards. What an absolute bunch of low life scum, this really pisses me off.

    Increases in funding in private schools, privatising strategic assets, careless deregulation and now this, it makes you wonder what sort of vision the National Party have for the country.

    If Labour/Greens don’t win next year the damage to the broader society in New Zealand isn’t going to be repaired until the 2020’s (assuming Labour can clean out the imposters:-)), it just defies logic that National are still in the game given their performance. Matthew Hooten, Fran O Sullivan and John Armstrong like to spout on about how NZ’s growth is higher than most of the OECD, but it has nothing to do with National’s policies and all to do with our primary sector growth (record dairy payouts) and Canterbury rebuild, the growth would have been higher under Greens/Labour because of their priorities in spending.

    When you take account of what a horrible society we are heading towards combined with this excerpt from Anthony Robbin’s post today

    “Take the global financial crisis caused by the consequences of the deregulation of the financial sector (explained here by Elizabeth Warren). Take the leaky homes crisis brought to us by a National government’s deregulation of the building industry. Take our failed and extortionate electricity “market”, brought to us by a National government’s deregulation of the electricity industry. Take the under-resourcing that leads to a lack of effective oversight and gave us (in various contexts) disasters at Cave Creek, the Pike River Mine, and the CTV building in Christchurch.”

    then surely this gives the left plenty of material to obliterate National, surely. If Labour and their strategists cannot use the above to put forward a strong narrative, to make some real headway into National’s popularity, then we really have some average representatives in parliament (Maybe they should stop pissing off their members and ex members)

    Good work Helen Kelly…I hope that you get some strong support from labour on this.

    Clearly NZ is accelerating towards a class based society. Sad, very sad.

    • Draco T Bastard 16.1

      Increases in funding in private schools, privatising strategic assets, careless deregulation and now this, it makes you wonder what sort of vision the National Party have for the country.

      Only if you’re ignorant of history. If you’re not then the parallels between what National are doing and feudalism are easy to see. National are trying to turn the capitalists back into feudal lords and everyone else into serfs.

  17. ghostrider888 17

    NEARLY HALF KIWIS LIVING WEEK TO WEEK and lovin’ their Big Mac of lies John.

  18. ghostrider888 18

    “There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with people. Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world. Given a story to enact in which they are lords of the world, they will ACT like lords of the world. And given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, they will conquer it like a foe and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.”
    -Daniel Quinn : Ishmael

  19. Darien Fenton 19

    http://www.labour.org.nz/news/workplace-law-changes-whack-hard-working-kiwis

    It is appalling stuff but no one should be surprised. It’s been signalled for nearly a year

    • Rhinocrates 19.1

      “Hands on” is really starting to grate – it looks like Uriah Heep-style handwringing. What are you actually committed to reversing when it’s “your turn”?

      • Darien Fenton 19.1.1

        Whatever. You’re hearing it which is a good sign. Our policy is to repeal all this crap and go much further. I can point you to links if you can’t find them.

        • Rhinocrates 19.1.1.1

          “Whatever”

          Oh blow your bubblegum and twirl your hair. Condescension is soooo going to win you votes. I’m sick to death of Labour In Name Only wringing hands and spouting cliches.

          I note that Ruth Richardson’s cuts to welfare weren’t substantially reversed, and I note today that Robertson is suddenly turning tail on being too “hands on”.

          Earn your votes! That means earning trust, ie., working for it and setting a good example. Curran’s bullying does not, your condescension does not. Don’t think that we are obsequiously grateful to have the honour of giving votes as some sort of tithe.

          • McFlock 19.1.1.1.1

            Condescension doesn’t usually involve wringing one’s hands, in my experience.

            I agree regarding the ECA, though. But I’m waiting to see the policy before I spit tacks.

        • handle 19.1.1.2

          In this context, “hands-on” doesn’t say much. I am waiting for a clear statement of what Labour intend to do, along with other potential coalition partners.

          • Rhinocrates 19.1.1.2.1

            Don’t hold your breath – it seems now that jellyfish Robertson is absolutely terrified by the likes Hooton and doesn’t want to CRASH THE MARKET!!!!!11111ZOMG!!! so it’s going to be more “hands on…. blah blah waffle, blah holding the government to account… blah …. zzzzzz”

            Apparently they think elections are like vending machines – you keep inserting sanctimonious press releases and then eventually government falls out, just like a can of Coke.

            • Colonial Viper 19.1.1.2.1.1

              it seems now that jellyfish Robertson is absolutely terrified by the likes Hooton and doesn’t want to CRASH THE MARKET!!!!!11111ZOMG!!! so it’s going to be more “hands on

              The capital markets have turned into highly centrally controlled, Stalinist operations. They co-ordinated a market crash in the price of gold and silver and now physical metal dealers all over the world are turning customers away saying that there are now minimum 4 week delays to receive physical metal.

              BTW, I don’t think that you can get a more hands-on Government than the one which was run by Douglas, Prebble, and Moore.

    • Saarbo 19.2

      Thanks Darien (I get the impression that you are inferring that we should have known all about this, im sure some here did but I didnt), a good idea might be to get David Shearer to cut and paste Helen Kelly’s post into one of his weekly emails so that we get a clear view of what is happening.

      I think if we go to the trouble of requesting his weekly email we probably have an appetite for more depth in the info than the insipid lightweight stuff he sends out…just a thought.

      • McFlock 19.2.1

        Is he still doing those? Haven’t seen one here for a while.

      • Darien Fenton 19.2.2

        @Sarbo : Hearing you. I do a regular e-news on the labour portfolio to an email list I have built up over time – it might be time to extend that given this is now current. I’ve done heaps of media interviews on this isssue over the last year since I got hold of leaked cabinet papers, as has Helen, but take your point that even if it makes the news, which is often hard going, it doesn’t mean everyone knows. This is serious stuff and we will need all the forces of good on the left to oppose it.
        @McFlock and @handle. Policy from 2011 is on website. Here’s a brief :
        Labour will repeal all National Govt changes to ERA, including these and previous ones like the 90 day trial period and the Holidays Act.
        Labour will strengthen collective bargaining, multi employer agreements, the right to strike around restructuring and the role of unions.
        Labour will introduce a new system of collective bargaining called Industry Agreements, which will set standards for all workers in an industry (in the first instance, negotiated, but arbitrated if agreement not reached). These standards will extend to all workers in that industry.
        Labour will tackle non standard work, including dependent contractors, temporary labour hire and other workers to ensure these workers have at least the same standards as directly employed workers.
        Nothing has changed about this policy. The CTU and Affiliated Unions support it and we will continue to work together to ensure this is leading Labour policy into the 2014 election .

        • McFlock 19.2.2.1

          fair enough 🙂

        • Rhinocrates 19.2.2.2

          Labour will repeal all National Govt changes to ERA

          Supposedly yes, and Labour will make the sun shine every day too (though not so much as to cause a drought).

          Ah, but could it?

          Don’t get me wrong, I think that the new power policy presented with the Greens is great… a real “government in waiting” will be serious about strategy as well as intentions… so I’m seriously pissed off by the fact that that spineless lump of custard* Robertson has declared now that it’s a one-off because he doesn’t want to frighten the markets.

          So no more of that, it seems. A couple of days of sunshine, and once again the fog closes in.

          Now, considering this sincere concern for the poor, will beneficiaries be allowed to paint their roofs without the sanction of the Amazing Psychic Doctor David?

          Unless you think I’m harping, I’ve been a beneficiary and I have a couple of very close friends who look physically fine but are gravely ill. That “rich prick” Shearer’s use of them as scapegoats was utterly vile opportunism, and he’s still not repudiated it. I will not forget or forgive.

          So what will Labour do for beneficiaries?

          Anyway, I will admit that, under pressure, you shifted from “Well, duh, have a look at my website little person” to actually articulating something, so apparently you’re learning. Keep it up – you’ve got a long way to go yet, but you might get there in 2017.

          *”Custard”, I think is appropriate – he’s yellow, and a very pale yellow at that.

          • Hami Shearlie 19.2.2.2.1

            That’s a “trifle” harsh Rhino!!! LOL

          • farmboy 19.2.2.2.2

            [deleted]

            [lprent: You will find that any comment I see of yours that does not contain information or humour will be deleted. Any comment that I see that constitutes a flame starter will be deleted.

            If you want to comment here then you have to show that at least occasionally you provide comments that either show intelligence or wit. So far you’ve merely accumulated a reputation for dumb stupidity and a talent for diversion trolling. That brings out my talent for troll suppression. Personally I don’t think you have the snowballs chance in hell because you seem to be too thick.

            My patience for doing this educational task is limited… start now.]

        • Red Blooded 19.2.2.3

          Thanks Darien, Great to see you here and great to hear your strong comments against this abuse of workers. I’m sure your job is often thankless but there are many silent workers out here that thank you for your fighting for our protection. Thanks again, Lyall.

        • DH 19.2.2.4

          I agree with other comments here Darien. I think you do a pretty good job pushing your portfolio but this is core Labour Movement values here and we need to see some evidence of it. Every one of your fellow MPs should be unanimous in their display of disgust and contempt for this, you shouldn’t be flying alone on it. IMO you don’t need to push your own policy, just show us that all of you genuinely reject this grave-robbing.

          What’s next from this mob, selling our organs?

        • handle 19.2.2.5

          Thank you for those details, Darien. What points do you believe have support from your fellow parties?

          • IrishBill 19.2.2.5.1

            I have no doubt that the next Labour/Greens government will knock these back and more. This policy is far more radical than any other the Nats have brought in (and far more radical than NZ Power – in fact it’s not hyperbole to describe it as NZ dis-empower).

            It’s a swing to the far right.

            • Olwyn 19.2.2.5.1.1

              It is not enough for Labour to promise to repeal these laws, and it is not enough either to simply leave it to Darien, who does a good job with what rope she has, as the lone employment spokesperson. It is not enough, because by the time Labour regain the treasury benches, the damage will be done. As with the asset sales, once they are sold you can no longer refuse to sell them. And as DH says, this is core Labour stuff. The forthrightness, wholeheartedness and resourcefulness with which these changes are opposed will be the real litmus test as to whether there is still a Labour party in anything but name.

        • asd 19.2.2.6

          Thanks Darien! This is truely wonderful news! (I already knew about it) but it’s good to see it released publicly.

          • Malcolm 19.2.2.6.1

            Darien

            Will Labour legislate to give us a genuine right to strike?

            The right to strike, not just during negotiations, but the right to strike in solidarity with other workers, the right to strike for political reasons, eg. to stop the massive erosion of civil liberties we have seen in the last 12 odd years, etc., etc.?

            The MUNZ workers at POA could have relied on solidarity action by fellow union members to stop the union-busting bosses there but instead …. well we know what is happening there instead, despite the savvy media campaigns, etc.

            (This is a serious question by the way, not a rhetorical one.)

  20. Cant remember my last username 20

    Helen Kelly is upset it about meaning it must be brilliant for the economy….keep up the good work Mr Key

    • Lanthanide 20.1

      🙄

    • Murray Olsen 20.2

      Get back to your Treasury desk. It’s not a holiday and John needs another economic forecast.

      • Colonial Viper 20.2.1

        It’s not a holiday and John needs another economic fantasy.

        For the sake of clarity.

      • Cant remember my last username 20.2.2

        Actually got offered a job out of Uni at Treasury back in 2000 but labour was in power and spending the next decade having your ideas and work vetoed by economic bunnies wasn’t very appealing

        I still remember the group interview question, where they asked us to determine how to value a human life….(hint: saying you can’t wasn’t the right answer)

  21. fambo 21

    I think it’s worse than 1991 because that was more or less a New Zealand centred singular initiative although influenced from overseas. The forces behind these changes are much bigger and murkier. They have to be seen in the context of other changes like spying on New Zealanders, making protests illegal etc.

  22. Draco T Bastard 22

    Today is a bad day for this country.

    One more step back to the poverty and destitution that were prevalent in the 19th century and before. How long before this government takes us back to total feudalism?

    Oh, wait, already happening. That is the purpose of state asset sales after all.

    All of this is about John Key’s promise to lower wages.

  23. McFlock 23

    I fucking hate this government.

  24. Alana Bowman 24

    This is massive, and thanks for the summary, with clear examples of the effects. Is someone doing bullet points that we can tell people about?

    • dumrse 24.1

      Try reading it when you are sober then you might remember it and not have to rely on somebody else.

  25. Colonial Viper 25

    The NATs likely have minimal to worry about from the unions or from the Labour Party re: these employment law changes.

    I say that because without the power of a general strike, or ability to strike in support of others, neither the unions nor the Labour Party have any live rounds left in the gun.

    So the main weapon available to the unions and to Labour against the Tories is harsh language.

    We might also organise some protest marches. These will have to happen outside of work hours of course (you wouldn’t want workers to inconvenience employers, after all).

  26. BM 26

    After watching Helen speak on the news, I don’t see the issue.
    If agreement can’t be reached, the employer should be able to break of negotiations.
    It’s their business, the final say should be with the employer.

    Edit: No idea why this comment ended up here, more database bs is my guess.

    [lprent: Yeah it was from moving farmboy’s . I have been fixing the accumulated errors this morning (saturday). ]

    • Daveo 26.1

      Because the employer can decide ‘I don’t want to agree to a pay rise’, repeatedly, so that there’s no point in actually barganing. It’s what happened in the 90s and it led to mass deunionisation and a drop in wages for all workers.

      • BM 26.1.1

        Then the employee moves onto another job.
        If the employer only wants to or can only afford to pay so much, that’s just how it goes, if no laws are been broken I don’t see an issue.

        If you think you’re worth more, move on and get a job that pays more, no one is being forced to stay.

        • Colonial Viper 26.1.1.1

          I’m sorry, but it’s better for workers to have higher levels of bargaining power vs employers.

          Otherwise employers will simply use a “take it or stick it” attitude.
          Which is of course characteristic of the low quality of employers and management in NZ.

          In the high unemployment and high underemployment environment that National has created, moving to another job usually means moving to Australia (and that door is closing now too).

          • BM 26.1.1.1.1

            That’s how it goes.
            The employer calls the shots, it’s his/hers company.
            You don’t like it, leave, everyone gets that and accepts that.

            • North 26.1.1.1.1.1

              “That’s how it goes” “That’s how it goes” “That’s how it goes”.

              As say you, over and again Me Old Mate BM.

              Yeah, that’s how it goes alright. When you get sucked in by a fake.

              Teach you for tryin’ to slide up that fake. Thought it made you look big aye ?

              Oh, Kia Ora…………

            • Colonial Viper 26.1.1.1.1.2

              Nah you’re fucking dreaming. The economy grinds to a halt without workers who actually add value.

              Most CEOs can’t even operate a photocopier.

            • felix 26.1.1.1.1.3

              “You don’t like it, leave, everyone gets that and accepts that.”

              Everyone except anyone who ever signed an employment contract of course.

            • Draco T Bastard 26.1.1.1.1.4

              But it shouldn’t be like that. People really should have a say in their lives and not just have to do what the boss tells them for what the boss wants to give them. This is something that you psychopaths on the right fail to understand.

              • Colonial Viper

                When Dickhead BM talks about “Employers” he actually means “Lords/Masters”

              • BM

                Then start your own business, that way YOU can decide who gets paid what.
                Problem solved.

                • Colonial Viper

                  No silly billy, you can’t solve societal and economic structural issues individually, on a one by one basis.

                  That’s why National is introducing this sweeping worker damning legislation, after all.

                • Paul

                  Your solution – that everyone in the country sets up their own business? Now you must know that is not possible. The discussion is about those who don’t own their own businesses and it would seems your solution is let them suffer…
                  Have you heard of the social contract or are you sufficiently unread that you have only read the gospel of Ayn Rand ?

                  • BM

                    I have never read Ayn Rand or heard of the social contract.

                    I have run my own business though.

                    • Paul

                      “Of The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right (Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique) (1762) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is the book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality (1754).” From Wikipedia.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  No, that would be me being as psychopathic as you. I’m all for starting a business but it would be a cooperative where everyone has a say.

                  • BM

                    All self employed people are psychopathic?
                    Is that what you’re implying?

                    Or does one only become psychopathic if they start employing people?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      They become psychopathic when they start treating people as things as you suggest.

                • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                  Nah BM, you don’t need to start a business, you just have to join a union. That’s just how it is, that’s the way it goes, you don’t like it but you just have to suck it up. Problem solved.

            • Dv 26.1.1.1.1.5

              You mean like the Bangladesh factory that colapsed.
              Thats ok?

        • Cant remember my last username 26.1.1.2

          ^^^

          Exactly

          Why do the left not get this point…if think you worth more then prove it!

          Employers that under paid will be left with cr@p staff hence will have to pay more or go under…

          Helen really needs to work on her media presentation skills it was a very poor interview (maybe Shearer can give her some pointers)

          • Colonial Viper 26.1.1.2.1

            Oh you’ve missed the idea

            It’s simply time to reallocate a larger proportion of national income from unearned profits and rentier behaviour, to labour.

            • Cant remember my last username 26.1.1.2.1.1

              Why? They will get ‘allocated’ it if they deserve it

              As long as minimum protections in place

              • Colonial Viper

                No no no

                It’s not a matter of “deserve”

                its a matter of taking through negotiating power.

                • Cant remember my last username

                  Sadly for you lot in the real word it is….

                  • Colonial Viper

                    You Tories are deathly afraid of co-ordinated worker negotiating power. That’s the entire reason behind your cowardly and short lived legislation.

                    It’s time to reallocate income from unearned profits and rentier revenues to workers.

              • North

                You’re a biblical fuckwit, John Key my last username. Old Testament at that.

              • Draco T Bastard

                They do deserve it, they’re the ones creating the wealth. The rentiers are the ones that don’t as they don’t produce any wealth.

              • Mike S

                “They will get ‘allocated’ it if they deserve it”

                Then how do you explain the fact that despite massive productivity increases in the last 30 years and despite record profits for businesses, incomes for those on low wages have remained stagnant or decreased in real terms, while those at the top have had huge increases?

                Because exactly the opposite to what you’ve stated has happened. Instead of the increased income being shared with those who produce it (workers), it has all been grabbed by greedy execs and business owners.

  27. freedom 27

    http://www.national.org.nz/PDF_General/Employment_Relations_Policy.pdf

    How many National voters out there actually read the Policy?
    Page six laid it out plain enough. National voters certainly have a lot to answer for.
    Thankfully it appears that a growing number are beginning to accept their poor decision and if they want this regression stopped, they know they better speak up soon.

    Tomorrow is a perfect opportunity for them to raise their voice
    http://aotearoaisnotforsale.com/2013/03/07/a27-national-day-of-action/

  28. Tanz 28

    What a surprise. National rides again, and they don’t care about ordinary folk. Does Labour really listen to the masses though? Only sometimes. Key will just lose more votes, pretty misberable to trade away teabreaks.

  29. dave 29

    ive been to couple meetings on employment law reform if torys were upset at power reform just wait for the employment reform to be announced lets just say its alot more than half

  30. RedBaronCV 30

    And I say it again. How about Labour does this- “for all employees on the minimum wage or 25% above that – the employer will pay a union fee. The employee has 90 days to chose a union or to opt out in which case the employer will pay said fee pro rata to unions that are represented in the said workplace “

    • Te Reo Putake 30.1

      Interesting idea, but unions don’t want the boss paying the subs. They want members who are invested in the organisation, including making a financial contribution.

      • RedBaronCV 30.1.1

        Not suggesting it goes on for ever but it would be a good quick start. It means a large business could be unionised virtually overnight .
        Employers couldn’t distingush from those in the union and those out so easily and then discriminate over conditions and wages. There would be a solid flow of money into unions and they would get the chance to discuss their benefits with employees.
        Most staff no longer have a clue about unions and it would also make it easier for higher paid, salaried staff to join too as many of them are efectively working for less than a minimum wage now.

        Have to be careful the employers didn’t set up house unions, so have to be CTU affiliated ? and perhaps start with the big employers – say over 25 staff?

        I believe all the staff at Reading’s Cinema joined up on the same day some years back to prevent an individual backlash.

  31. felix 31

    Is the maori party going to support this?

    • Te Reo Putake 31.1

      Good question! I imagine the Nats will want to get these changes, and any other contentious legislation, through parliament before Banks is jailed, just in case the MP go rogue. However, my gut feeling is that the Maori Party MP’s will support this attack on their own people because they will put their class interests first.

    • lprent 31.2

      A very good question. More correctly asked would probably be the question of what is their price?

  32. Lance 32

    This is great news !

    Less power to the communist unions

    [lprent: what century are you in? The rise of the crawling zombies is insidious. Do you waft of dead as much as you read as being as thick as a fencepost ]

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