In perhaps the most unsurprising announcement of the year, National has let slip it’s going to maintain its 90 day no rights policy, which basically means your boss can sack you for whatever reason he likes within the first 90 days of your employment.
Don’t be fooled by the spin there’s already a provision for probationary employment in the law provided there is a fair process. National simply wants to remove the fair process.
They’ve softened it a little apparently there are going to be some safety mechanisms to ‘prevent exploitation’, but as usual there’s nothing on their website outlining what this would mean in practice or how a sacked minimum wage worker would enforce their rights.
It’s also been restricted to small businesses with fewer than 20 staff, which are ironically some of the worst employers and where workplace protections are needed the most. This would also apply to seemingly large employers like Subway, whose smaller individual franchisees would be free for example to sack an autistic worker for taking a sip of a free cup of coke. I guess that’s what National means when they talk about â€˜giving opportunities to those at the margins of the labour market’.
It must be remembered that while all you hear from National these days is criticisms about how hard it is for average Kiwis to buy cheese and pay for petrol, the one workplace policy they’ve come out with would make it harder for workers to improve their pay.
We tried this path before and for most workers it meant wages failed to keep up with the cost of living because their rights at work had been stripped away from them. The result was our low wage economy, our lagging productivity and the opening up of the 30% wage gap with Australia. I’d be interested to hear why National thinks it would be any different this time.
Word is the Nats are going to release some more workplace relations policy over the next couple of weeks while Parliament is in recess. If the past is anything to go by they’ll be nothing more than bullet points filled with say-nothing words like â€˜flexibility’ and â€˜choice’. Call me old-fashioned, but I think working people deserve a little better than that.
[Oh and for anyone tempted to whinge about the personal grievance ‘gravy train’ have a read of this DoL report (PDF). Turns out it’s a myth.]