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Previewing the Nats’ work rights policy

Written By: - Date published: 7:17 am, July 17th, 2008 - 25 comments
Categories: national, workers' rights - Tags: ,

The biggest protests during this term of Parliament were against National’s 90 Day Bill when it came up as a private members’ bill. In protests all over the country, over ten thousand workers turned out to oppose having their rights stripped.

The Bill was defeated but National has not given up. National has signalled that the 90 Day No Rights policy will form the centre-piece of its work rights policy, which is due out this week or next. The Herald editorial welcomed the policy and suggests it may be just the start of anti-worker policy from National: “National’s plans for 90 days’ probationary employment are also a taste of a larger likely project… The change would be less significant than what it may signal for employment law generally. Employers have been loaded with so many extra costs, restrictions and obligations”. The costs, restrictions and obligations The Herald is talking about are four weeks annual leave, maternity leave, higher minimum wage, flexible work hours, and Kiwisaver. Will we see policies against these work rights from National?

Yes and no. National’s 2005 policy of ‘allowing’ workers to sell their fourth week of annual leave will be back (don’t kid yourselves, many workers will be forced to give up their fourth week) as will limiting union access to worksites so workers’ can’t organise to fight for wage rises and better conditions and privatising the ACC scheme but don’t expect much more. National can only go public with so much of its anti-worker policy before the election – enough to signal to allies like The Herald and Business NZ that National will keep workers in line but not enough to alert workers to the threat and lose their votes.

Rest assured, there will be plenty more anti-worker policy if they win power. Little pinprick policies that undermine rights and wages. After all, Key “would love to see wages drop” and that’s as simple as not raising the minimum wage and letting inflation do the rest, like they did last time.

25 comments on “Previewing the Nats’ work rights policy”

  1. Monty 1

    Don’t worry dear socialists, these measures will not mean the sky will fall in, babies won’t be eaten by the nasty tories, and in fact you may even find that people don’t really care – they may like being able to get paid out one week of their salary- Many many people I know still do not use their four weeks and have a lot of leave accumulated so a little bonus of being able to cash up one weeek a year could be a good thing – called choice – have you heard of that?

  2. lukas 2

    SP got a link to show that it was the biggest thing protested about this term?

  3. Oh you boring twats.

    Monty – You don’t know “many many people”. In fact I’d be surprised if your mum lets you out of your cage.

    lukas – got a link to show it wasn’t? No? Then STFU.

  4. Matthew Pilott 4

    Monty, so what about a little thing called choice eh? Tell you what, I reckon I can find more people who’d “choose” to have basic work rights in the first 90 days of employment than would “choose” to get paid out on their leave. Whaddaya reckon?

    And as Steve mentioned, it’s not hard to imagine that 4th week would be paid out automaticaly – a lot of people don’t get to “choose” when their employer tells them what’s what.

    Sod, play nice!

  5. Matt – f*ck ’em. They’re retards.

    [cool down, ‘sod. SP]

  6. Phil 6

    Steve, you’re really only one step up from a dog-whistler. I suspect the only people who are going to listen to this kind of fear-mongering nonsense are those that are already pre-disposed to having fear mongered at them.

  7. Phi. You’re more than welcome to elaborate on how this is fearmongering.

  8. So over ten thousand people opposed this bill by turning up to protest? Thats not a large number, how many workers does NewZealand have?

  9. ants 9

    The biggest protest was the RUC – as usual you can’t state the truth – slippery indeed.

  10. ants 10

    RobinSod, why don’t you go back to your teenage-style blog where you are among people of a similar intellect.

  11. Oliver 11

    Personally I would love to be allowed to sell my 4th week of leave. Though only in some years. Poor management in the part of the public service I work in means that we routinely have months where no leave is allowed that was not booked three months prior and at the end of the year I always have leave that i’ve been unable to use.

    And once again I feel compelled to point out that opening something to sompetition is not the same as privatising it.

  12. ants – why would I bother to engage at anything like a sophisticated level with retards like you and your mates? Honestly bro – I’ve got more self-respect than that…

    edit: Hi Blar – again, why are you posting as oliver? And you don’t have any spare leave, you’ve not been working long enough to accumulate it. Sheesh bro the first rule of spin is stick with what you know….

  13. Tim 13

    Well, if you think “choice” is so important, why hasn’t National actually released its entire IR policy so voters can choose whether they want work rights or not?

    It might have something to do with the fact that John Howard lost an election because of Work Choices (that word again – “choices”).

    National’s IR policy is nebulous, they’ll do far more than introduce a 90 day probationary period (which I suspect is being moderated before the election, we’ll see a return to Mapp’s bill after the election). They will introduce a raft of IR changes all of which will be detrimental to workers.

    The 90 day bill or having to sell a fourth week of annual leave won’t be the end of the world, but it’s what they don’t say that worries me. I suspect low paid workers will have a very rough time under a National Government, especially given calls to limit “inflationary wage growth” and rising food and petrol prices.

  14. Oliver 14

    Robinsod,

    I have no idea who blar is, I have stacks of spare leave that I very rarely get a chance to take: 40% staff turnover in the last 12 months leaving us 25% down on establishment combined with minimum staffing requirements mean that we are routinely told not to bother applying for leave.

    Also, you’re not my bro.

  15. Bro – I’m so your bro. And you’re so blar. A 40% staff turn-over doesn’t sound right to me. Why are people not staying in all these cushy overpaid Public Service jobs you rightie folk keep banging on about? Unless… no – that public sector waste stuff couldn’t be a fib??? Or could it?

  16. Matthew Pilott 16

    Wow that’s crazy Oliver, I konw of people in private sector jobs, who are quitting because their leave has been cancelled (this is holdday leave for the end of this year!), despite being booked months ago. Poor management perhaps – shall we nationalise that industry, it sounds worse than what you mention. Far worse.

    Or perhaps we should accept that little anecdotes such as yours aren’t a useful rationale for making a considered judgement on anything, nor a valid criticism of the public sector…

  17. Asher 17

    I took part in the Wellington 90 day bill protest, but I have to say, my memory of the numbers around the country were certainly less than turned up to the various demos around the Operation 8 raids – although there were more of those demos over a longer period of time.

  18. Oliver 18

    Robinsod,

    That staff turnover rate is quite correct, including internal movement. And waste is a big part of the issue. The frontline is losing out to pet projects. The people up high are setting the wrong priorities so money gets pissed away on things that have zero impact on actual operational outcomes but look good on paper or are the pet-project of someone influential. Equally a lot of money is spent on highly visible but largely useless aspects that should go on duller more humdrum but effective areas. The upshot is that people move on, including to other parts of the public service that are better paid, less dificult, less effective but better alinged with the latest fad emanating from the beehive.

    At the end of the day this means that our staff shorages lead to me having leave that I can’t take. At least if I could sell that leave I’d get some benefit from it.

    And again, I’m not Blar.

  19. Asher – I was at the Auckland rally against the 90-day bill and it was pretty bloody big. I’d say around 5000-6000. In terms of a single demo I suspect the recent asian anti crime one would be the biggest this term (assuming it was 10,000 – granny has a bad habit lately of inflating the numbers when there’s anti-govt hay to be made) but the 90 day one went on around the country so it might have made it past the 10K mark.

  20. Monty: “Don’t worry dear socialists, these measures will not mean the sky will fall in, babies won’t be eaten by the nasty tories, and in fact you may even find that people don’t really care.”

    Two points Monty…

    1. For many low-paid workers the sky did fall when the ECA was introduced. They suffered pay cuts and cuts to their terms and conditions of employment, many of which such as cuts in overtime and penal rates and the span of hours worked without attracting those rates, resulted in further reductions in income. Many even lost their teabreaks.

    2. People do care. That’s why National came so close to losing in 1993, despite winning in a landslide only 3 years before. That’s why Max Bradford was detested and even lost his seat, after trying to dupe workers into giving up their annual leave. They didn’t fall for that then, and they certainly won’t again.

    That said, I think that National would be too clever — certainly a lot more so than Monty — to announce that stuff before the election. Thanks for pointing out the Herald editorial, SP. It does look a lot like a dog whistle for the business sector.

    And, is any of this going to help raise our productivity and close the wage gap? Not! Once again the Tories are sacrificing a high road policy on the altar of short-term profits for their business sponsors.

  21. Blar 21

    “(assuming it was 10,000 – granny has a bad habit lately of inflating the numbers when there’s anti-govt hay to be made)”

    Police estimated the turn out was around 15000. That was the figure the Herald quoted.

  22. Blar 22

    “Once again the Tories are sacrificing a high road policy on the altar of short-term profits for their business sponsors.”

    You haven’t even seen the policy you fucking tard. I’ll bet my left testicle it will be heavily watered down from 2005 so invoking the ECA shows you up as a bunch of hysterical conspiracy theorists.

  23. Matthew Pilott 23

    I have some AM pills, Blar, and I don’t need them. Want me to fire a couple your way post haste? I’m worried about your blood pressure.

    P.S I like the way you’ll bet your left testicle on the fact that National won’t have the balls to come out publicly with the policy they’d like to. Is that irony or what?

  24. El_Pinko 24

    Geez the nats must be bright…

    I know what will reverse the “exodus” across the tasman; give workers less holiday (even less than what they would get in OZ) and reduce their “total wage” in New Zealand that way they will not only get paid more in Oz they will have more time off to come back and enjoy a holiday in NZ while the local “untouchables” do all the running around after them.

    I wonder how Business New Zealand will feel when they can’t find anyone to work at all?!

    Oh thats right they have such a good history of productive capital investment they will probably have super-intelligent cyborgs that don’t take holidays employed by then.

    **chuckles sinisterly**

  25. Are the El_Pinko prototype cybums on the production line at Aunty Helen’s Incorporated yet ?

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