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.