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Real choices

Written By: - Date published: 7:45 pm, March 2nd, 2009 - 13 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags: ,

Kate Wilkinson’s attempts to defend the fire at will bill are getting increasingly desperate. She’s just put out an excited press release where she’s trying to claim that a CTU flyer telling workers they don’t legally have to sign onto a 90 day ‘trial’ period proves her absurd claim that these periods are therefore ‘voluntary’.

What Kate (along with most neoliberals) fails to understand is that the two things are not the same. Because while both employer and employee can theoretically agree to waive the 90 day fire at will period, it’s the employer who gets the final say. Unless the employee has significant bargaining power – something rare in any case, and particularly so in a recession – it’s a case of “take it or leave it”.

With such an asymmetery of bargaining power the reality is workers don’t have a choice. So while the CTU has a duty to its members and to the wider public to encourage them to try and negotiate an exemption, the reality is workers will be forced to sign if they want a job. It’s as simple as that.

13 comments on “Real choices ”

  1. BLiP 1

    This elemental part of the relationship with an employer, that they get the last word on the employment contract, is so obvious that I am sure KW understands completely. Her press release is a cynical act of desparation by PR hacks clutching at straws and attempting to mislead voters rather than defend law.

    Watch the Herald salivate over this disception and add the canard “giving people a fair go” in its on-going promotion of the policy.

  2. QoT 2

    Jeeeeeez, Tane, it’s like you’re trying to imply that there’s some kind of power dynamic in play in the employer-employee relationship. I think if that were, like, true, our beloved Government Ministers are probably smart enough to know it’s there, right?

  3. burt 3

    So what you are saying Tane is that in a recession when an employer takes a chance on a new employee they will have the power to decide if they should employ and pay that person or not ? Wow, that’s a pretty scary thing – next thing you will be telling me is that when I walk into the dairy and the dairy owner tries to sell me something I don’t need that I will have the choice how I spend my money rather than just give it to him because he/she wants/needs it.

    Scary times we live in.

    • QoT 3.1

      Yeah, burt, because those situations are *totally* comparable on the basis of who has the power in the interaction.

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        they will have the power to decide if they should employ and pay that person or not ?

        Where did you get the idea that they do not have that power now? Of course they do. People are being hired and fired all the time. And to dismiss someone, they have a clear, fair process to go through to achieve it… although even getting that right eludes some of them.

        Why not just come out and say what you really want; a return to the old days when employers could arbitrarily fire workers for no justifiable reason, no due process, and no right of recourse?

        You never know, you might get some kudos for being honest for once.

        • Akldnut 3.1.1.1

          Red He dosn’t need to cause it’s already in place. He should be saying woohoo we’re back to the old days………….

  4. rave 4

    Has Minister Wilkinson said that WINZ will stand down unemployed who refuse to take a 90 day fire at will job? That will be the test of whether workers have the power to refuse or not.

    • BLiP 4.1

      WINZ has said that it will not provide any transition to work assistance for the 90 day jobs as it deems them to be temporary – in the unlikely event that WINZ will be consistent in its policy, then there should be no stand down period at all.

  5. TightyRighty 5

    It is take it or leave it. as it should be. If you do take it, then prove your worth and you’ll be fine. if you take it and your rubbish, then sayonara, and thats great because someone more deserving and hopefully more productive will get a crack at the position. if you leave it, well your just signalling to the employer that your rubbish and good riddance, the employer hasn’t wasted their precious time with you.

    • fraser 5.1

      “if you take it and your rubbish, then sayonara”

      what if you take it, your not rubbish, but still get fired because the employer is dishonest or vindictive?

      or are you saying that somehow bad employers dont exist?

      Why cant anyone who supports this bill actually tackle the question of why removing the right to face your accuser is somehow just and fair?

  6. infused 6

    What good times we live in

    • Matthew Pilott 6.1

      What, Infused, a recession? Whoop-de-di.

      TightyRighty – so we’ve established that Wilkonson was talking absolute rubbish when she said

      The flyer explains that an employment agreement that features a 90 day trial is voluntary and must be agreed to in writing.

      since you have to ‘take it or leave it’?

      • TightyRighty 6.1.1

        No, it is voluntary and must be agreed to in writing so thats totally correct. however, if i was taking a punt on somebody who could be fifty-fifty, i would not be giving them a contract without a probation period in it. and if they kicked up a fuss about that in the interview when it would be first discussed, then it would signal to me that i should not bother putting the contract before the prospective employee.

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