NRT: Not good enough

Written By: - Date published: 6:13 am, January 26th, 2018 - 42 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, employment, workers' rights - Tags:

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn writes:

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The government today announced some employment relations reforms, including the restoration of meal breaks and the right to collective bargaining. But they also plan to retain 90 day trial periods for small businesses:

The Government will ban 90 day trial periods for any business with more than 19 employees as part of the overhaul.

The controversial fire-at-will scheme, introduced by the last government, gave employers the right to dismiss workers without cause during a 90-day trial period.

Small businesses – those with 19 employees or fewer – will still be allowed to use trials.

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the latest data from Statistics New Zealand suggests that 97 per cent (487,602) of all enterprises are counted as small businesses, but these employ only 29 per cent (599,880) of all employees in New Zealand.

So basicly the 30% of the workforce who are most vulnerable, because their bosses are the stupidest and crappest and lack institutional expertise, will be left at the mercy of their employers. Yay Labour! Let’s do this! Errr…

And apparently we were lucky to get even that. Because despite solid empirical evidence that 90 day trials don’t work, Labour wanted to toady to employers and wanted to retain them. The reason they’ve agreed to remove them for large employers is that NZ First demanded it:

Labour had campaigned on allowing trial-period workers to challenge a dismissal, which would then be decided by a referee service within three weeks, with a $5000 payout cap and no right of appeal.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said that would no longer be the case.

“What we will announce will be quite different to that. That’s a result of our negotiations with NZ First.”

So there you have it: worker’s rights, which Labour wanted to ditch, were protected by Winston. Something is seriously wrong with the Labour Party when that happens. But that’s what happens when you have a party which fundamentally stands for nothing.

42 comments on “NRT: Not good enough”

  1. patricia bremner 1

    This is a coalition government, and NZ first would not agree. This is a compromise. The first good things for workers in 9 years!!! Not everything granted, but a great start.

  2. RedBaronCV 2

    Yep should just be dropped. Any proposal that workers have to enforce individually puts a target on them when they are asked about it in next job interview.

  3. Stuart Munro 3

    After decades of unmandated far-right drift we hoped this government would show a little more spine. It is less this particular weak intervention than the prospect of further lame duck-like actions more characteristic of the last days of a failing government than the first days of a reforming one.

  4. mickysavage 4

    I disagree with IS that NZ First was responsible for the policy being changed. My understanding is that NZ First opposed change being implemented across the board.

    • JanM 4.1

      That’s what I understood too – this post seems to have got it around the wrong way

    • Anon 4.2

      Reports are incredibly vague on what influence NZ First actually had. Looks like pre-election Labour was looking at a microscopic tribunal for dismissals within the 90 day period, now it’s no 90 day for large business but no mention of any recourse for small/mid businesses either. Did winnie save large business workers, or harm small business workers? And what actually was his position before this compromise?

      These articles linked to, both from IS and from the Standard post drawing the opposite conclusion, seem to have no relevant details as to who made what decision – they only have the outcome. Couple that with the lack of transparency around the coalition agreement itself and I blame every party involved.

      • mickysavage 4.2.1

        Um …

        Labour have clearly said that the changes do not go far enough and that MMP negotiations are the cause.

        You can listen to Iain Lees-Galloway confirming that this is the case here …

        http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018629518/90-day-trial-gives-small-business-certainty-lees-galloway

        • Bill 4.2.1.1

          I just listened and while the claim is made that it’s all down to necessary compromise resulting from coalition negotiations, Iain Lees-Galloway also says (before that point) that (yawn) research will carried out and that if the government feels the results of that research warrants it, then this piece of legislation may be revisited.

          Putting those two things together, I’m thinking NZ Labour weren’t exactly principled in their original stated position.

          And there is a principle at stake. Power and where it should reside.

          • mickysavage 4.2.1.1.1

            Wait …

            IS said that Labour wanted to not support change. I am sure this is not true.

            Imagining there may or may not be some change in the future because something may happen is not the same. Besides Galloway was clear to predicate the idea of there being research that warrants it. What else could he do? Say that if the evidence backed change they would ignore it?

            Research to date shows the idea that trial periods are good for job growth is bonkers. I am sure this will not change.

            • Bill 4.2.1.1.1.1

              I’ve already said I think IS’s interpretation is wrong headed. So let’s park that off to the side, aye?

              NZ Labour said it was going to rescind the 90 Day malarkey. Then didn’t. And they have said that’s down to NZF coalition talks.

              But then Lees Galloway is also saying NZ Labour may revisit it off the back of research.

              All I’m pointing out then, seems quite obvious and uncontroversial – that they were not taking a principled stand in the first place. If they had been, there would be no talk of “research”…which incidentally, also flies in the face of the remark you made in your comment above – Labour have clearly said that the changes do not go far enough and You can listen to Iain Lees-Galloway confirming that

              • koreropono

                +1 Bill and if Labour have said “that the changes do not go far enough”, then why are they dragging their feet? Research be damned, there’s already evidence that the bill has not led to growth, so the reality is that it is simply a piece of legislation that employers use to wield power over vulnerable employees. And if the numbers in the post re the number of employers in NZ with over 19 employees…then I think it fair to say that Labour’s stance on this is another sign of tokenism to mislead voters…very similar to what Labour are doing with the ‘rebranded’ TPP. Sadly I was right about Labour, I had hoped they’d changed (this time) but nope, still the same National lite they’ve been for decades.

        • DoublePlusGood 4.2.1.2

          What other flaccifications of Labour policy can we look forward to?

        • Anon 4.2.1.3

          That’s not the clear message I get from this, he clearly says Labour doesn’t want to hurt businesses feelings over their biased position for which there is evidence against. Now he can claim MMP all he wants (National will be loving someone else blaming MMP for something), but that’s still Labours own reported position and gels with their stated position as of last July too.

  5. red-blooded 5

    In fact, the article that IS links to makes it clear that the small business exemption was what NZF insisted on. That’s also what this morning’s report and interview with the Minister made clear.

  6. Bill 6

    Obviously a wrong-headed analysis, though I agree with the broader take – that NZ Labour is more concerned with mollifying the fears expressed by powerful actors and centres of power than it is about just getting on and doing stuff for those who gave them a vote.

    They are already defensive. If they want to grow their voting constituency, they need to be bold.

    The general feel god vibes of babies etc and merely winding things back to what they were before National came to power; to the way things were when they lost an election – these aren’t ambitions that will secure them a second or third term.

    Taking the bull by the horns, or grabbing things by the scruff of the neck, well…that would have set them in good stead. And yes, the past tense is deliberate.

    • red-blooded 6.1

      Who do you think would have voted with them in a bold “scruff of the neck” move, Bill? ‘Cos it looks like even repealing the 90 days stuff was too big for NZF, and the Nats sure weren’t going to come to the party…

      • Anon 6.1.1

        Make the move, and make it clear which partner kept you from getting it over the line. Otherwise you just look complicit. Especially when telling businesses in July last year that you’d keep 90 day trials.

      • Bill 6.1.2

        NZF didn’t vote for NZ Labour. Neither did the Business Round Table or the Reserve Bank or who-ever/whatever else…people did.

        And the trick is to get ever more people “on side”, not just hope to safeguard what you’ve got while compromising with people and institutions whose interests run counter to the interests of the people whose vote you want.

        What would have happened in parliament if NZ Labour (obviously with Green support) had just laid their cards on the table? Well, in the short term, and assuming NZF had dug their heels in, legislation would have been shelved.

        And public support off the back of the knowledge that NZ Labour had stuck to its guns and tried to do the right thing while NZF had been arses? What would have happened there?

        Well, given that NZF also wants to win votes, (possibly) even more worker friendly legislation could have been brought forward medium term in the stead of a defeated bill.

        But this way, we have compromise, some (hopefully not widespread) wrong-headed analysis and no movement in terms of bringing people “on side”.

        edit – one thing that just crossed my mind that would go some way to softening the blow on workers would be to abolish WINZ stand-down periods. Or will NZ Labour dance to NZF’s tune on that one too? Worse, is it the case that NZ Labour is essentially playing the same tune as NZF anyway?

        • red-blooded 6.1.2.1

          Doing things your suggested way just feeds the narrative of unreliable/shaky government, Bill. And what does it accomplish? Nothing! Under your scenario, the 90 days provisions would still be in place for all new employees, and the relationship between NZF and Labour would begin to get antagonistic. That’s the last thing a coalition government needs.

          And, replying to Tracey, below – who’s suggesting that Labour were the ones to “choose” the policy that NZF wouldn’t compromise on…? That’s shaky logic, at best.

      • Tracey 6.1.3

        Why did Labour choose this kind of core Labour policy to trade away? This is why we stay centre right even under Labour. When Nats get in they pass new legislation ( or repeal old) to help business regardless of impact on wages and employees. When Labour get in they tinker for fear of upsetting businesses, most of which will never vote for them.

        So, next question is, what has NZF traded away to fet Labour to back off 90 day gone for all?

        • Incognito 6.1.3.1

          Why did Labour choose this kind of core Labour policy to trade away?

          Nobody (except a very few) knows what happens behind the scenes of Government. We don’t know how hard they tried to persuade others and how hard they negotiated. At the end of the day, the Government needs the numbers in the House to pass anything. It is unfortunate that in this kind of democracy and representative system much of the most serious debating and decision making happens behind closed doors with very limited transparency and not in the public-political realm. By doing it this way politicians will always struggle to bring people alongside (and vice versa) and to achieve some kind of broad (public) consensus – any (political) mandate seems to entirely rest on the election results once every three years. In my view, the wide gap between public and politic needs to be bridged or made smaller. So, I agree with Bill that this seems to be largely a missed opportunity.

  7. Wayne 7

    As Patricia stated in the first post, NZ has a coalition government led by Labour; not a Labour government.

    If you want a Labour/Green government, well that combination has to get around 50% of the vote. In 2017 it did not. You get your next shot in 2020.

    Presumably each partner in the current coalition actually gets something. NZF, in keeping with its philosophy, has always supported 90 day trial periods, especially for smaller employers.

    In fact there is a majority of votes in parliament in favour of trial periods, being National, NZF and ACT. Just because they are not in govt together does not mean they don’t share some common views. Trial periods is one area of commonality.

    There will be others, including for instance resisting weakening the bail laws. That won’t be happening because NZF won’t support it. Part of the NZF brand is being tough on law and order. Voting to weaken bail laws is hardly consistent with that.

    I don’t really expect to see the coalition go for any more reform of the RMA either. NZF won’t make it tougher for business than it already is.

    • DoublePlusGood 7.1

      It’s weird though that NZ First is happy to support the TPPA, which is directly contrary to their entire philosophy.

  8. David Mac 8

    If the 90 day law was tossed right out….I’d struggle to roll up every morning to a workplace where I wasn’t welcome. I can’t see the point in insisting that an employer keeps me on when he’d rather I left. It’s hard to imagine the situation blossoming into something great. It would be tougher to be an unwanted wheel in a small business with just a few employees. I think my mental health would start to suffer.

    • Anon 8.1

      Your employer has to treat you like a human being whether they like you or not, anything less (especially to the point of affecting your mental health) is constructive dismissal.

      Until we find a replacement for capitalism, or at least pay beneficiaries a living entitlement and treat them as the byproduct of capitalism that they are, then I see employment as a human right.

    • Stuart Munro 8.2

      If you can’t tell in a month whether a new employee is working out, you’re not paying attention. And if you’re not paying attention one worker is as good as another.

      • Patricia 8.2.1

        And surely if the employer is not happy with his new worker there should be a meeting after a month where expectations / improvements could be discussed and further training offered. Just flicking off workers on their 89th day with no explanation / discussion will not help the worker do better at the next job.

        • koreropono 8.2.1.1

          “Just flicking off workers on their 89th day with no explanation/discussion will not help the worker do better at the next job”

          Is this an assumption that the worker needs to improve? Perhaps this is a sign of an employer who uses legislation to disadvantage workers?

  9. Ad 9

    “Labour stands for nothing”

    Typical armwaving horseshit from a writer whose mirage of perfection is always an enemy of the good.

    • Anon 9.1

      Sure they’re better than National, but that’s hardly much to be proud of… I’d rather criticize the better option than praise mediocrity.

    • Bill 9.2

      And that comment of yours isn’t pointless, somewhat abusive arm waving horseshit contributing nothing at all to debate, discussion or exchange – how precisely?

      Maybe if you’d clicked to the link behind NRTs opinion, you could at least have commented on the argument he forwards on that front.

      • Ad 9.2.1

        I clicked on his link within the comment, particularly the one leading back to 2015.
        The writer deserves the comment.

  10. lurgee 10

    I hope all those who talked voted NZ First and voted for them are happy now.

    Winston enabling arseholes.

  11. UncookedSelachimorpha 11

    Labour seems to be reinforcing their claim to ‘National Lite’.

    Considerably better than National, but showing little comprehension of just how bad the plight of the poor is in NZ, and too blinded by the prevailing neoliberal ideology to show leadership and make the big changes that are needed.

    • red-blooded 11.1

      “too blinded by the prevailing neoliberal ideology to show leadership and make the big changes that are needed.”

      Again, you can only change a law if the majority in parliament back the change. This is a coalition government in a parliamentary democracy, not a dictatorship. If Labour couldn’t convince NZF to back the change, they sure as hell weren’t going to be able to convince the Nats. Therefore, they had to compromise. It may not be as good as people here would have liked, but the package as a whole is a significant improvement in terms of basic working conditions, union access and bargaining rights, and for the 90 days provision is gone for 70% of workers. If we want to improve on this, then we need to try to ensure that Labour and the Greens have the numbers to take things further in the next parliament.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 11.1.1

        Fair comment and good point. the Greens would go further, but NZF quite likely not.

  12. Observer Tokoroa 12

    Hi red- blooded

    You words are so correct and lucid. “…You can only change a law if the majority in Parliament back the change”

    There seems to be some confusion over what NZF did or did not do to leave 30% of NZ employees stranded in the old Capitalist National Filthy Net. That’s a pity. It may become a shackle around Winston’s ankle.

    There will come times in the present Parliament when NZF will wish it had support.

    As will be the case for the Green Party. They may also seek support.

    But those persons who seek to improve Workers Wages; Workers Access to Fairness, Dignity and Safety; Workers Ability to be treated as skilled and invaluable Citizens – those persons will be held in high esteem.

    • Chuck 12.1

      The “secret” 33 or 38-page coalition agreement between Winston and Labour would have covered this off.

      It’s simply Winston knowing his voter base. Watch out for further Labour (and Greens) backdowns to appease Winston.

      Hell, even James Shaw yesterday admitted that the Greens will have to swallow dead rats to be of any use in Government 🙂

      • Anne 12.1.1

        …James Shaw yesterday admitted that the Greens will have to swallow dead rats to be of any use in Government.

        He actually made a similar statement at the time of the coalition talks following the election.

  13. Louis 13

    “This is the first round of employment law changes that this government plans to make. It is the first steps towards reversing 30 years of working people having their rights diminished and losing their fair share of a growing economy”

    Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11981946

    DETAILS OF THE GOVERNMENT’S PROPOSED LABOUR LAW CHANGES
    Roll-backs of changes introduced by the previous government:
    * Restoration of statutory rest and meal breaks.
    * Restriction of 90 day trial periods to SME employers (less than 20 employees).
    * Reinstatement will be restored as the primary remedy to unfair dismissal.
    * Further protections for employees in the “vulnerable industries”.
    * Restoration of the duty to conclude bargaining unless there is a good reason not to.
    * Restoration of the earlier initiation timeframes for unions in collective bargaining.
    * Removal of the opt out where employers can refuse to bargain for a multi-employer collective agreement.
    * Restoration of the 30 day rule where for the first 30 days new employees must be employed under terms consistent with the collective agreement.
    * Repeal of partial strike pay deductions for low level industrial action.
    * Restoration of union access without prior employer consent.
    New proposals:
    * A requirement to include pay rates in collective agreements, based on recent case law.
    * A requirement for employers to provide reasonable paid time for union delegates to represent other workers.
    * A requirement for employers to pass on information about unions in the workplace to prospective employees.
    * Greater protections against discrimination for union members.

    https://nz.news.yahoo.com/details-labour-law-changes-233019908–spt.html

  14. carlite 14

    If your first chance is wasted on simply rolling back some (not all) of the changes made by your opposition, you are an incrementalist. This is not what I voted for.

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