A coalition of unions, Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party, and community groups has come together to support Darian Fenton’s Redundancy Protection Bill.
We’re not talking anything lavish – just fair protection. The bill provides for four weeks’ notice before redundancy, plus compensation of four weeks for the first year of service and two weeks for every year thereafter, capped at 26 weeks.
It’s only fair that workers and their families have some recognition of service to tide them over while they try to find a new job. This is more important than ever at a time when unemployment is rising by 2000 a week. Take the story of Jonathan Smith on the campaign website:
At age 25, being made redundant was the last thing Jonathan expected. But with Telecom’s decision to change contractors he finds himself out of a job next Friday with no redundancy pay to tide him over.
“The stress is the worst thing,” says Jonathan. “We’ve all given years of service but now we’re out in the cold, no jobs, nothing. It’s really depressing, seeing everyone’s morale just go down the drain.””Personally I’m lucky to be able to stay with my partner’s parents, but there’s a lot of guys here who’ll have real trouble keeping up with the mortgage and the bills.”
It’s not right that people like Jonathan who have worked hard and given their loyalty to a company can find themselves out on the street with nothing (and isn’t it heartwarming that his thoughts aren’t selfish but for his fellow workers). It’s people like Jonathan that this Bill is all about.
It’s up to National whether this Bill passes and workers get basic protection to help them out if their job disappears. At the very least, they must vote to send it to select committee so MPs get a chance to hear what happens to workers and their families when they lose their jobs and have no redundancy protection as a safety net.
Now, before the righties whine about the cost, let’s get some facts on the table. Four out of five union members have redundancy protections already and it doesn’t send their employers’ out of business. In contrast, very few non-unionised workers have protection, especially people in low-paid work who are most at risk of losing their jobs.
We would only be following the rest of the world in establishing redundancy protections. Nearly every other OECD country has them and Australia has just strengthened theirs to the same 4+2 formula as is in this Bill. If we want to be as successful as other countries, shouldn’t we be following their lead?
Thinking about this, I reckon the biggest thing apart from the substance of the bill is to see the broad left coalition – Lab, Greens, Maori, unions, community groups – coming together again. It’s the shape of the next Government, right there in one campaign.