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Ramming it through

Written By: - Date published: 11:11 am, December 9th, 2008 - 51 comments
Categories: national/act government, workers' rights - Tags: ,

I’ve just been informed that the National/ACT Government has put its 90 day fire at will bill on the Order Paper and could ram it through under urgency as early as tomorrow.

This is frankly an astonishing abuse of our democracy. A piece of legislation that will remove basic work rights from hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders in any one year is being rammed through Parliament without any discussion or debate.

As Phil Goff points out, this really is an outrageous act of arrogance that bodes very badly for the future of this government, especially given the noise they made when they claimed the EFA and the ETS – two of the most widely debated pieces of legislation in the last term – had been “rushed”.

Let’s hope National has the good sense to pull back from the brink.

51 comments on “Ramming it through ”

  1. Liar 1

    Are we talking about a civil union?

  2. vto 2

    Putting aside the merits or otherwise of the bill, I agree that this is exactly the sort of arrogant ignorant crap that the labour lot did and it stunk to the high heavens. It tarred them forever imo and it will happen to the nats too if abuse of the system continues. aarrrrgh! I’m going fishing.

  3. Graeme 3

    I’ve just been informed that the National/ACT Government has put its 90 day fire at will bill on the Order Paper and could ram it through under urgency as early as tomorrow.

    That’s an interesting theory, but the Order Paper *to which you link* contains no such bill.

    captcha: 1-16@5.16¼ Libau
    seriously? wtf?

  4. IrishBill 4

    Graeme, it’s the ERA amendment.

    vto, I assume you’re talking about the EFB which went through three votes and a select committee. That’s hardly comparable to putting a bill up and passing it within 24 hours.

  5. Tane: Your post extremely hypocritical.

    Labour had a history of passing bills under urgency, but because you agreed with the bills you just shut up and said nothing.

    Well guess what buddy, National is in power, we voted them in and thats democracy, deal with it, or move along.

  6. Janet 6

    Democracy includes select committee hearings.

  7. Liar 7

    Everybody knows that select committee hearings are a complete waste of time.

  8. Democracy includes select committee hearings???

    Thats a keeper.

  9. Graeme 9

    Irish – you mean this one?


    Then what on Earth are you complaining about? I’m suprised you don’t support it!
    What’s wrong with greater rights for employees in triangular employment arrangements?

  10. IrishBill 10

    Well blow me down. It’s Darian’s old bill. Graeme, I hope you’re right about that.

  11. Graeme 11

    I know I’m right about that.

    All the Bills listed on the Order Paper are Bills from the old Parliament, which the new Parliament will decide this afternoon to copy over.

    If they want to start any new bills they will have to formally introduce them. And, I would envisage, wait until Tuesday before beginning the debate.

  12. Phil 12


    Motion for an Address in Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech from the Throne

    Specified party leaders: 30 mins each
    Members making maiden speeches: 15 mins each
    Other members: 10 mins each

    Whole debate 19 hrs

    Jesus Christ!
    I could barely sit through the small number of speeches at graduation, and there were only half a dozen pompous gits speaking at that, not 120-odd.
    19 hours gets perilously close to my threshold for doctor assissted suicide.

  13. roger nome 13

    They did the same thing with the Employment Contracts Act. The ECA Bill was introduced to the House on December the 19th 1990 just before parliament’s Christmas holiday break, and became law on the 15th of May 1991. No time for the opposition to debate it.

    I guess it shows where the real priorities of the National Party lie – and who they’re really in parliament for – the bosses.

  14. Phil 14

    introduced to the House on December the 19th 1990 just before parliament’s Christmas holiday break, and became law on the 15th of May 1991. No time for the opposition to debate it.

    Labour took a six month holiday?!

    Just out of interest, how does that compare to the introduction of the EFA to the house?

  15. Ginger 15

    [Tane: Start making constructive points and you’ll go far here. Carry on like this and you’ll find yourself banned very quickly.]

    [… turns out it’s Crank, who was banned months ago for trolling, and again later for posting with SP’s home address as his username. What a creep.]

    [lprent: Now added to the ‘feed to the anti-spam’ bot. Idiot has used a rather large number of aliases]

  16. 8 & 4 16

    This is a disgrace. It doesn’t need to be done before Christmas.

    John Key didn’t even include it in his much vaunted 100 day plan


    Disgusting. And the media should call him on it.

  17. 66% of NewZealanders agree with this, judging by the latest polls.

    Its a good thing.

  18. Tane 18

    Brett, don’t think we’re stupid enough to think self-selecting online polls with poorly worded questions are a reflection of public opinion.

  19. If you are good at your job you should have nothing to fear, the only people who should fear this, are the workers who aren’t good that hide behind the unions.

  20. Tane 20

    If you are good at your job …or if your boss decides he doesn’t like you, or if you refuse to work extra shifts so you can spend time with your kids, or if you refuse to take a pay cut or sell off your fourth week’s annual leave, or if you’re the wrong colour or religion, or if you get pregnant…

  21. Billy 21


    Would you like to make some predictions about what will happen next year as a result of this law?

  22. Tane:

    The question in the poll was clear cut and required a yes or no answer.

    Im also dont think there arent many employers who are cutting an employee’s wage.

    If you just start a job and then get pregnant in the first 90 days, and ask for time off after just starting, thats not fair to your employer.

    If your boss doesn’t like you, why stay?

  23. IrishBill 23

    Billy, exactly what happens now as many small employers don’t even bother to follow the law. The difference will be that their staff will just have to suck it up as they will have no recourse to natural justice.

    I have a friend that has recently dealt with a case in which a small employer decided to reduce a new worker’s hour to a point where they were effectively zero because she rebuffed his advances during a staff night on the piss. That cost that employer a considerable sum. Not for the sexual harassment but for the breach of process.

    Under this law my friend’s client would have been able to be sacked without any reason given and would not have been able to access the employment services to get a remedy. She could have taken a case to the courts concerning a breach of the human rights act but that would have been very expensive and hard to prove.

  24. Billy 24

    So IB,

    Your prediction is that large numbers of employers will sexually harrass their employees with impunity as a result of this law.

    OK. I’ll be sure to look out for that.

    Anything else?

    IrishBill: I’ll tell my mate to pass your concern on to his client. Wanker.

  25. Tane 25

    Billy – it depends how employers implement it. In a time of rising unemployment I can see it being used to depress wages, but on a more individual level I can see employers abusing it by sacking staff unfairly. That was the experience in Australia.

  26. Tane 26

    Brett – those polls are completely unscientific.

    Firstly, it’s self-selecting. You should understand what that means.

    Secondly, the sample is overwhelmingly biased. What kind of people are at work all day able to vote in silly online polls? Certainly not hospital cleaners and bus drivers.

    And thirdly, the question is very poorly worded. As it stands even the President of the CTU could vote ‘yes’ to that question.

    Honestly Brett, stop wasting my time.

  27. Chris S 27

    “Labour had a history of passing bills under urgency, but because you agreed with the bills you just shut up and said nothing.”

    Got some proof there, chump? I’ve read your blog it’s more of this blow-hard bluster with no real facts to back it up.

    Name one controversial bill that was passed through all it’s stages (first, second, third reading) under urgency. The EFA and ETS had months of time for public submissions and debate, although the final reading of the ETS was under urgency.

  28. Bill 28

    I’m surprised that the ticket clippers who waste their client’s time and money fighting to justify cases of indefensible dismissals aren’t more vocal about this assault on their income.

  29. Graeme 29

    Name one controversial bill that was passed through all it’s stages (first, second, third reading) under urgency

    Chris S: two spring to my mind immediately:

    In the 47th Parliament, The Electoral (Vacancies) Amendment Bill was passed under urgency, through all stages, to allow the Government to avoid holding what would have been a politically disadvantageous by-election.

    And in the 48th Parliament, The Appropriation (Parliamentary Expenditure Validation) Bill was passed under (extreme?) urgency, through all stages.

    EDIT: Also, although not under urgency (I think), in the last months of the last Parliament, the Government introduced changes to Kiwisaver over (until then legal) total remuneration packages without a first reading, second reading or select committee hearing into them. Business NZ wanted to make submissions, but the Government, instead of introducing a bill, and having it go through any process at all tacked them onto an unrelated wage law creating rights to paid breaks at the committee of the whole stage..

  30. roger nome 30


    “Labour took a six month holiday?!”

    No – the bill wasn’t available to be read.

    During the parliamentary debate about the Employment Contracts Bill, National was “unable’ to make the bill available to opposition MP’s for them to read (Danin 1998: 23).

    Plus, the bill was passed long before it became law.

  31. Chris S 31

    Thanks, Graeme.

    I wasn’t aware of the Electoral (Vacancies) Amendment Bill or the circumstances surrounding it. However, that and the Appropriation (Parliamentary Expenditure Validation) Bill to me was, apart from politicians covering their own asses, primarily band-aid legislation with a time-sensitive nature that wouldn’t have gained much from public submissions.

    Not to say that I agree with them, however I don’t believe they were a misuse of parliamentary urgency.

  32. higherstandard 32

    IB, Billy

    Apparently the bill will

    “make it clear that workers will still have the right to lodge personal grievance claims on the basis of sexual harassment or discrimination.”

    Perhaps everyone should calm down and hold judgement wait as per the Maori party..

    “But Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the party was yet to see the legislation. It would consider its stance once it received it.”

  33. Billy 33

    I am perfectly calm, HS.

  34. George Darroch 34

    “make it clear that workers will still have the right to lodge personal grievance claims on the basis of sexual harassment or discrimination.’

    So, you can discriminate, and just say it was for another reason. And because there is no recourse to the Employment Tribunal, that reason can be completely false. Oh well, at least it catches people stupid enough to discriminate openly.

  35. George Darroch 35

    Graeme, since it’s been a long time since the last one, what’s the procedure for a new Government dropping old Government bills and business?

  36. Graeme 36

    No – the bill wasn’t available to be read.

    During the parliamentary debate about the Employment Contracts Bill, National was “unable’ to make the bill available to opposition MP’s for them to read (Danin 1998: 23).


    There is no possible way this can be true.

    Waited ages until giveing them a copy, not long before the first reading debate, sure, that’s possible. But no copy during the debate (!), I can’t believe that.

    I see a book (?) you’ve quoted, but do you have a Hansard reference or something similar to back this up?

  37. Graeme 37

    George – by the member in whose name that bill stands (i.e. for government bill, the appropriate minister) informing the Clerk that it is to be discharged – see Standing Order 71(1).

  38. Tane:

    If you think im wasting your time, perhaps I should be banned?

    I don’t think its been 90 days since I have first started posting?

    Secondly if your going to ban me, can I consult a third party who has never been here to back up my case not to be banned?, I want meetings, I want a strike by other posters.

    The fact is, NO EMPLOYER is going to sack a worker that is producing great results, if they do, then you really wouldn’t want to work for them.

    An employer should have the right to let someone go who isnt pulling their weight and who isnt going to in the future.

    I have no problem with the 90 day bill and never should good workers.

  39. Lew 39

    BD: I have no problem with the 90 day bill and never should good workers.

    You have nothing to hide, so you have nothing to fear, right? I recommend a move to Singapore.


  40. Why would I want to move to Singapore?

    If your good at your job, then the 90 day bill shouldn’t be a worry.

  41. Lew 41

    Brett Dale: Because Singapore is both wealthier and safer than NZ – I mean, sure, it’s a police state, but if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.


  42. Felix 42

    If your good at your job, then the 90 day bill shouldn’t be a worry

    So why have any workplace protections at all? Why have annual leave? Your boss will give you a holiday if you’re good at your job, eh?

  43. Felix:

    Your just being silly now, this bill is not taking away work place protections, but it is protecting employers.

  44. Lew 44

    BD: this bill is not taking away work place protections

    It quite clearly and explicitly removes the right of an employee to take a personal grievance case for unfair dismissal within the first 90 days. That’s practically the only purpose of the bill and means that an employee can be fired for any reason or for no reason at all during that time.

    If that isn’t removing a workplace protection, what would, in the Peoples’ Republic of BrettDalestan, constitute such a removal?


  45. DeeDub 45

    Brett…. your arrogance and stupidity surrounding this issue is just breathtaking!

    Usually you at least make sense, even when I disagree with you. But this time you take the cake, pal.

    What would you say to the poor people who ARE wrongfully dismissed with no right to take it up once this law is passed? ‘Tough shit’ seems to be your stand?

    Very decent of you.

    Or are you contending that it just won’t happen? In which case I would have to call you delusional….

  46. Felix 46

    Brett I have to agree with what DeeDub wrote.

    I too generally respect what you have to say whether I agree or not but I don’t think you have a clue about this issue.

    Lew has explained the point better than I have (as usual) so I won’t repeat it.

    I will say, however, I think these next few years are going to be challenging for you if you plan on becoming a cheerleader for Key instead of the independent thinker that you usually seem to be.

  47. What employer is going to fire a good worker?

  48. Lew 48

    BD: They don’t necessarily need to fire them – the threat of being fired is powerful enough to circumscribe protected behaviour such as insisting on proper breaks, leave, working conditions, safety and training, overtime pay, union organisation and complaints about conduct, especially personal conduct on the part of those who have the power to fire at will. It’s a chilling effect, similar to what the Electoral Commission found the EFA had upon the election campaign.

    The differing responses between this issue and that issue are to do with situational utility, viz. who benefits, by how much, and at cost to whom?


  49. Well who would stay in the place that treats you like that anyway?

  50. Felix 50

    So Brett you ARE arguing for a removal of all workplace rights from law.

    That means no breaks in law, no leave in law, no minimum wage in law, no health and safety in law.

    Because who would stay working somewhere if you didn’t get those things anyway?

    Just admit it mate, you’ve said it a few times now whether you realise it or not.

  51. Felix:

    There has to be a balance, an employer should have the right to fire a new worker who isnt up to scratch.

    Do you really think all these workers are all of a sudden going to be fired just for the sake of it???

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