I have been reading through the submissions released to date on the Employment Relations Act Amendment Bill.
Air New Zealand take the prize for most oppressive demands. They start off moaning that they have 40 Collectives. Rob Fyfe tried that line on me once. I asked him to call me back once he had examined the airlines behaviour in the 1990’s where it undertook a delibarate strategy to break up unions into smaller staff groups and play them off against each other – the result – a proliferation of unions and collectives. He did not seek to continue that conversation!
Recently we had a delegation from management in our office saying they wanted a new type of relationship with us – a “modern” arrangement based on trust etc, yada yada. It appears what they really want is to dominate their workforce and to get laws that help them do that.
Air NZ employ 11,000 staff. They fully support the proposed changes to the law but don’t think they go far enough:
- The Bill allows an employer to walk away from bargaining without concluding a collective (because the prefer individual agreements) and to get a Court order declaring bargaining finished – Air NZ want the threshold for this in the Bill lowered. They want bargaining to end after they turn up and don’t conclude.
- The Bill gives employers a free hit period of 60 days if bargaining is deemed over by the Court. A period when good faith bargaining does not apply, workers can’t seek to bargain or strike and the prevailing collective is cancelled (ending the good faith duty not to undermine the collective!). During this time employers will go to workers and try to get them to sign new individuals varying their terms. Air NZ appears to need 120 days to destroy the bargaining unit so have sought this period be extended to this length.
- The Bill allows employers to not offer new workers the collective for the first 30 days of employment (a provision Cabinet say will allow employers to offer reduced wages to new workers). Air NZ wants the provision to then stop new employees from joining the union and seeking collective coverage (cherry picking apparently – a job and decent terms!).
- The Bill allows employers to deduct a default 10% of a workers pay for “partial strike action (firefighers for example might do full shifts but refuse to fill in fire reports), Air NZ want this increased to 25% for good measure.
- The Act forbids the employment of outsiders as replacement labour during a stirke. Air NZ want this removed.
- The Bill slashes and burns Part 6A which protects cleaners and catering jobs when the work is contracted – Air NZ want it removed all together
- It also wants: the right to take a PG removed above a certain salary band, the test of justification for dismissal removed, the time to raise a PG reduced from 90 to 30 days and a provision that says outsourcing during the term of an agreement will never be a breach of good faith.
Good one Air NZ – love clearly not in the air when it comes to workers rights hah?
Other submissions of note for genearal desire to breach international human rights include Contact Energy, Carter Holt Harvey and Foodstuffs. Healthcare NZ seems to be advocating that all those pesky equal pay and sleep over cases by the SFWU be dealt to as well – but they fudge that a little
Clarification: To be clear in this article, my experience of working with Rob Fyfe was very good and the conversation referred to above was actually a problem solving one during a difficult dispute. Rob always rang to discus big issues with the Airline before they were public and to engage with the CTU on important matters. The article really shows the legacy he was left with because of a hostile approach to employment before his time and the current managements approach which seems to be reverting back to those days.