Written By: - Date published: 7:18 am, April 1st, 2011 - 71 comments
Categories: business, employment, minimum wage, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags: 90 day policy, fire at will, four weeks annual leave, sick leave
Today National has a terrible April Fools for workers around Aotearoa:
– The 90 day fire-at-will law extends to all workplaces. The EPMU is putting in some good work to get this excluded from many workers’ contracts, but the vulnerable will still be targeted by some unscrupulous employers, and workers will be afraid to leave jobs for better ones – that they may be fired from without recourse. Surely everybody deserves at least a reason as to why they’ve been sacked?
– Business owners will be able to stop union access to their workplaces, making it very hard for unions to talk to their members and improve their conditions, or to be able to check on those conditions. Surely after Pike River we should be looking at adding checks, not removing them. If you’re an employee, unions are on your side; this shows that the government evidently isn’t.
– Employers will be able to insist a worker gets a doctor’s note after just 1 day sick, without “reasonable grounds”. This will clog up our GPs, preventing them from doing important preventative and primary care work. It will also mean workers face being ~$30-40 out of pocket for being ill – hopefully temporarily if they realise the boss has to pay. Employment law expert Max Whitehead says removing the test of reasonable grounds was “going too far” and left the law open for “unscrupulous employers to abuse it.”
– In a further attack on conditions, employers will be able to ‘encourage’ employees to ‘sell’ their fourth week of leave – meaning just 3 weeks break for some of our more stressed, low-paid workers.
– The minimum wage goes up 25c/hour. Clearly John Key isn’t aspirational for those on Struggle Street as they get granted 2% extra (less than the increase in GST!) when inflation is 4%, and the petrol they need to get to work is rising much faster. It’s a shocking slap in the face as John Key granted himself $1000/week worth of tax cuts this year.
As Andrew Little put it in the EPMU campaign:
These new laws aren’t about making good management better. They’re to protect bad employer behaviour. And they’re designed to make it harder for workers to have their voices heard in the workplace
Of course, most employers are reasonable people so these reductions in conditions will be ignored by them. But there are bad eggs out there, and, to paraphrase Twain, we make our laws to control the lesser man. (Right conduct controls the greater one.)
And even the good employers won’t be increasing wages much this year, as they didn’t last year, despite that high inflation eroding your pay-packet. Without the minimum wage going up much, those who’d pay a bit more still have to compete with those who won’t. And with the economy so flat under National’s mismanagement, a lot of employers don’t have much extra to share around. That was the folly of tax cuts for the rich – those who don’t spend, have more; and those who do, have less.
And that’s bad for business.