Word around the traps is that National is going to be releasing its industrial relations policy this afternoon.
My prediction is the policy will be sold as relatively moderate, but in reality will differ only slightly from their rather extreme 2005 plan. We can be sure that every single change will have the effect of rolling back the gains made by workers over the last eight and half years. None will improve workers’ rights or lift wages. There will be no mention of how National plans to close the now forgotten wage gap with Australia.
Here’s what I’m picking:
– A review of personal grievance rights, including the introduction of a 90 day no rights period for new workers in businesses with 20 or fewer staff.
– Removal of the ‘union monopoly’ on collective bargaining.
– Restrictions on union access to the workplace, making it harder for workers to organise or to see their union representatives. [Hat tip: Ben Thomas]
– Make the fourth week’s annual leave saleable by ‘mutual agreement’.
– Vague promises about reducing ‘compliance costs’, possibly including the removal of elected health and safety reps.
The rest of National’s planned reforms (rolling back the 2004 amendments to the ERA, paid parental leave, time and half on public holidays etc) will be shelved for the second round of reform after they gain power, while other planned reforms such as Kiwisaver will likely be released separately and dressed up as small business or superannuation policies.
We said earlier in the year that the one policy National can’t move on is employment law. Small target politics might well be the name of the game, but this is one dead rat National and its supporters won’t stomach.
UPDATE: Well, it’s past 5 o’clock and there’s no policy yet so I guess that tip-off was wrong. Maybe tomorrow?
UPDATE 2: Looks like I was broadly correct. Yay, I guess…?