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Stupid and mean

Written By: - Date published: 10:35 am, March 1st, 2009 - 46 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags:

Today marks the first time in over a decade that workers’ rights have got weaker.

From today new workers in small businesses will face having all of their work rights taken off them.

As we’ve said before this will mean less security for vulnerable workers which will mean less bargaining power which will mean lower terms and conditions.

But it’s not just the new workers that will be affected. This new “second-class” worker category with its reduced rights and wages will act as a drag on the rest of the labour market and that will contract wage-growth and reduce consumer demand.

So once again at a time when the government should be re-priming the economy they are implementing legislation that will have an economically contracting effect.

46 comments on “Stupid and mean”

  1. Johnty Rhodes 1

    IB – so employeers will want to hire 4 workers each year to do the same job then, even though it will cost much more to do this? Useless workers be aware I agree, but the employeer needs to make decisions to keep business viable, does it not. Especially in these hard times.
    Better than having to marry un-productive idiots them under the old rules? Aust/UK who are left of NZ have similar laws, so what is the problem?
    Idology getting in the way again here old chap.

    • IrishBill 1.1

      The law isn’t about protecting employers from bad workers. The old law did that. This one is about protecting employers from their own prejudice and inability to manage staff and doing so at the expense of workers.

  2. If your a good worker you have nothing to worry about.

  3. Brett. That’s the same logic that fascists use when arguing for removal of our civil rights, you’re just applying it to our work rights.

  4. Our civil rights have been removed???

    I have said this before, I dont see a good worker being fired for the sake of it.

    • No, read my post again – our work rights have been removed, and your logic in defending it is the same as fascists use when defending the removal of other rights (ie ‘we don’t need rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure because the Police only use them on bad people, if you’re good you’ve got nothing to fear).

      I suspect this is all going way over your head, Brett. But let me put it plainly – removing the rights of the weak and giving unconstrained power to the powerful is a recipe for injustice, it is the antithesis of our entire legal and political tradition.

  5. In fact, Brett. I’m pretty sure you used the same logic around law and order. You seem to think that we can just trust people in power to always treat those without power fairly. That it foolish and dangerous.

  6. Redbaiter 6

    BTW, what happened about that guy who wanted to stand for ACT and was employed by one of the unions? Wouldn’t this bill have been helpful to the union employers in such an instance?

    Irish- have you ever run a small business in NZ, and suffered the endless disappointment of trying to find a good employee amongst the over powering dross that is out there?

    Employers are reluctant to take a chance on employing anyone because there is about a three to one chance they’ll be a pot smoking drop kick with a productivity rate of zero.

    This bill will give employers some relief from the danger of hiring unproductive dope soaked dipshits, and make it easier for them to hire the good workers that are out there and are so valuable to them.

    You want to improve the lot of good workers don’t you?

    I do.

    • Redbaiter. Shawn Tan was employed on a probation period, which contrary to uninformed belief actually existed under the previous law. The difference was that under those probation periods you still had the right to take a case to the employment tribunal for unjustified dismissal. Under the new law, you have no rights. You’re gone and you have no avenue to argue that your dismissal was unjustified or breached your human rights.

  7. The rights of the weak????

    Workers aren’t weak, we don’t need Aunty Helen to save us, we dont need a third party to come in and fight for us.

    There wont be massive layoffs from the 90 day bill, the only people who have to worry about it are the slackers, good workers will be okay.

    As for civil rights, well we are from being a police state, I dont see any major changes to the law.

    • Daveo 7.1

      Brett. There is an imbalance of power in the employment relationship in favour of the employer and this is open to abuse. Even the woman from Kensington Swan said as much on Radio NZ news this morning. It’s pretty elementary stuff. If you can’t understand it there’s no helping you.

  8. Daveo 8

    Redbaiter – you mean Shawn Tan?

    I think this is what happened to him: http://www.epmu.org.nz/news/show/172567

    He was stupid enough to leave an email trail on his work computer showing he’d planned to engineer a “media storm” out of his candidacy from the very beginning, in conjunction with the Act party. The whole thing was a political set-up.

    It worked for a while with the help of a compliant and in some cases complicit media, that is until the union dumped all the evidence in the public arena and Tan and his political backers suddenly went very quiet. So did the right-wing journalists like Lincoln Tan who’d given him all that uncritical air-time.

    I hear the legal case he kept saying he’d take against the union never evenutated. Doesn’t surprise me, he didn’t have a legal leg to stand on, and in any case Act ran a mile from him when the truth came out. They’re not big on solidarity those libertarians.

    • Pascal's bookie 8.1

      burt was going to read all about it and get back to us about whether ACT had behaved with the standards of integrity that Burt demands from public officials. How’s that going burt?

  9. Michael 9

    Redbaiter has trouble finding good workers!?

    This might reflect the fact you’re a bad employer. Your attitude and aptitude are some what limited.
    It may be a matter that decent workers avoid you and therefore you get what you deserve.

  10. If you own a small business, and you hire someone, and that person is not up to the job, it should be your right to let them go, it should have nothing to do with the government or someone from a union, its your business.

    • George Darroch 10.1

      You have every right to let them go, and thousands of employers do so every year. They even do it within the first 6 months. You tell them what they’re doing wrong, give them the chance to get it right, and if they don’t improve then off they go. It was a law that didn’t fail to give employers any reasonable right to dismiss.

      You just couldn’t fire them for no good reason. Which is what this new law is about.


      it should have nothing to do with the government or someone from a union, its your business

      And it’s my livelihood. Godamn if I have no recourse cause the employer doesn’t like my religious beliefs or whatever reason – no reason need be given at all in the first 6 months, and you have no right to demand a reason as was the case under the previous law.

  11. Redbaiter 11

    Mr Dale. If a worker wants to join a union he has that right. If a union wants to act for that worker, then providing they act within the law, they also have that right.

    Unions have a role in society. As I have often said here, the problem is that unions are dominated by left wingers who pervert them to the cause of the Labour party, when it is never a given that the Labour Party acts in the best interests of workers. (Quite the contrary IMHO. Especially lately.)

  12. Brett. It’s also the person you’ve hired’s business. This is their livelihood, how they support their family, what they do with their lives. They ought to have the right not to be able to be fired with a justifiable ground. Under the previous law, that was the case. Now, you can be fired without justifiable grounds.

  13. RedLogix 13

    Brett,

    it should have nothing to do with the government or someone from a union, its your business.

    Yes you own the business, but without and educated, healthy, capable workers it would not function. Nor without the myriad of public sector services that support the commercial and infrastructure matrix in which you business operates, would it have never have got off the ground.

    Whether you like it or not, workers (via their agents the unions) and govt DO have a stake in your business.

  14. Yes, and if that worker is not working out, the employer should have the right to let them go.

    • RedLogix 14.1

      Yes, and if that worker is not working out, the employer should have the right to let them go.

      Yes, but not a unilateral, unrestrained right. There are no absolute rights, they all exist in balance with other competing rights.

      • higherstandard 14.1.1

        So the worker shouldn’t have the right to resign and find another job when they feel like it either ?

    • George Darroch 14.2

      If you didn’t know you have the right to do so, then you’re not a great employer. All you have to do is follow procedure and dismiss them on reasonable grounds. It’s not that hard, and it happens every day.

  15. Redbaiter 15

    “Nor without the myriad of public sector services that support the commercial and infrastructure matrix in which you business operates, would it have ever got off the ground.”

    Utter bullshit. Commerce preceded government in mankind’s development by some centuries.

    • blacksand 15.1

      utter twaddle; social cooperation to meet the collective needs of a group preceded anything recognisable ‘commerce’ or ‘government’ by a reasonable stretch. At some point in late human evolution, the ideas of trade or governance as seperate entities have emerged out of the soup of stuff that was going on and allowing groups to survive.

      The only way you can make a statement as bullshit as that is by setting the goalposts of where you recognise ‘Commerce’ or ‘Government’ to have emerged, and you’ve obviously chosen some pretty late points judging by your use of ‘centuries’ of division between the two.

      This is the point right wing individualists utterly miss – that we are social creatures, and that the leaps in human progress have been as a result of our ability to work together for common goals. Not that being social beasts particularly sets us apart in the world.

  16. RedLogix 16

    No problem at all RB, if you want to run a pre-Industrial business say, making horseshoes and bartering them to the local villagers for bacon and eggs.

    But usually people aspire to bigger things than that these days. Modern businesses depend on a huge array of technological, commercial and legal infrastructures to function effectively… most of which depend on an effective public sector.

    • Pascal's bookie 16.1

      I doubt you could even have that level of specialisation without a govt.

  17. Mike 17

    Where is the rest of the wankosphere on this issue, where are the cries of “Guilty upon accusation!” and dark mutterings about “freedom” as there was on Section 92A?

    I guess that spin only applies to fat white bloggers downloading pirated copies of the West Wing not people on the minimum wage.

  18. Redbaiter 18

    “most of which depend on an effective public sector.”

    Well if so, then that explains why most business are fucked at the moment I guess. A totally useless ineffective inefficient over paid non-functioning public sector.

  19. RedLogix 19

    Well if so, then that explains why most business are fucked at the moment

    Well no. The generally agreed picture is that governments over the last 30 odd years have been increasingly persuaded to de-regulate the commercial banking and finance industries. To the point where they virtually abandoned the regulatory helm altogether.

    Particuarly dangerous was the complete failure to regulate, or even monitor, the monstrous ballooning market in derivatives and other complex products that largely amount to flat out gambling, which eventually have come to dominate the real world economy by a factor of 10-15 times. They were made illegal after the 1930 Slump, but the shysters and gamblers managed to get them back in play by the early 90’s.

    Eventually the gamblers could not cover their hands, and the game has folded in acrimony.

    The very well-spring of the banking industry is trust, and that trust they have destroyed with a reckless, irresponsible greed, a hubris that they were the ‘Masters of the Universe’ and could do no wrong.

  20. Redbaiter 20

    “It’s also the person you’ve hired’s business.”

    Its not though. Its the owners business, and if we had a civilized society, that ownership would be recognised as the property right it is. Nobody wants to make it difficult for workers, but the right to own property is paramount to a free and productive society. The worker provides his labour for wages, and the relationship stops there. He wants the perceived security of being a part owner of the business, he needs to buy shares. What’s wrong with that??

  21. rave 21

    Of course it is neither stupid or mean. Its very intelligent of the bosses to have the right to hire and fire – it raises their profits. It’s not mean either because along comes John Boy and says he will launch a national solution to stop sackings and reduce the working week to a 9 day fortnight and pay for the 10th day of work out of taxation in the interests of kiwi national solidarity.

    On the one hand the employers got more labour value from workers under the whip of the 90 day act and cut their wages at the same time. On the other the workers pay their own wages for the 10th day since most taxes are now drawn from those who work, not those who profit from that work.

    But they sell this rescue package as workers bearing their fair share of the crisis along with the bosses. I don’t see the bosses bearing any of the costs. The workers are paying the full costs. The 9 days will become 8 and then 7 and so on, while the lost days will be picked up from workers taxes. Its just a sliding scale of the dole paid for by workers.

    But this is not stupid or mean. Its called capitalism in a crisis.

  22. RedLogix 22

    but the right to own property is paramount to a free and productive society.

    I guess that is one of the places where our world views diverge so profoundly. In my view all rights exist in balance with each other and no single right is ‘paramount’ as you put it.

    Even you must agree that there are limits on the right of property ownership. For instance just because you CAN own a slave, does not mean that you SHOULD be able to. The human rights of that person are more important in this case, that the property rights of his/her would be owner.

    He wants the perceived security of being a part owner of the business, he needs to buy shares. What’s wrong with that??

    Well yes, but most owners are very reluctant to part with their business shares to their employees. What is generally more practical is some form of profit sharing.

  23. Redbaiter 23

    “What is generally more practical is some form of profit sharing.”

    If ever there was a claim that demonstrated your utter ignorance of commercial reality it was this one. Its completely impractical for so many reasons its a stark demonstration of your complete and utter ignorance that you clearly can’t think of one.

  24. RedLogix 24

    Its completely impractical for so many reasons its a stark demonstration of your complete and utter ignorance that you clearly can’t think of one.

    Not at all. I was for seven years the employee of a California based corporate that ran a genuine 15% profit share for all non-sales commissioned staff. (Who had their own separate reward system.)

    It worked really well. One very good year I got about NZ$12,000 gross (this is in the 80’s). It was generally well received and respected throughout the company. It was my positive experience in this regard which prompted me to mention this alternative.

    Besides, you still haven’t tackled the problem that most business owners do not WANT to part with shares to their employees.

  25. Redbaiter. Have you heard of the concept of conflict of rights? The business owner has an onwership right over their business, the employee has work rights – sometimes these rights conflict and there is a balance to be stuck. This new law puts the balance entirely in favour of the business owner, which is not usually how we organise rights in our politico-legal tradtion.

    You see, rights exist to counter power imbalances –
    the owner’s property rights exist to counter the overwhelming power of the State (they mean that despite having the ability to do so, the State is not allowed to do whatever the hell it wants with private property, it’s allowable actions are limited to those delineated by Parliament the sovereign representative of the people),

    the employee’s rights exist to redress the power of the employer in the employment relationship (meaning that despite having the power to do so, an employer is not allowed to use or get rid of labour as it chooses but only as permitted by law).

  26. I’m still trying to add up the value of unions to a civilised society.

    No wonder in America they are trying to push the law to kill all secret ballots allowing unions to strongarm workers into joining them.

    I know I am anti Union but you got to understand, I know you guys here all are aligned heavily with them and I have not seen any arguements here on what exactly the Government should do. All I see is people getting upset because we have not enough Maoris or Women involved so I assume you’re not taking the crisis that seriously.

    Maybe worth a post – what does the Standard think will help NZ, right now.

    Cheers

    • TBA 26.1

      Clint I understand your difficulty in trying to work out what Unions actually add to a civilised society and as a former Union Rep for the PSA I would say that they add very little.

      I first joined the union under the belief that they were there to ensure that employees rights were taken care of, that they we’re protected from bad employers etc. Unfortunately what I found was that they were more interested in ensuring that we all voted Labour and kept paying our dues.

      In the two cases I had to deal with as rep the head office told me to side with the WINZ Manger as it would make life easier for all and I ended up getting better assistance from a local law firm which dealt with the situations free of charge (damn those corporates).

      I still firmly believe that unions have a place in society as I believe that the two individuals I was able to help lacked the confidence, ability and yes plain old pig headedness to get the results themselves, this is where unions should be helping their members. However instead they are more interested in their own belief of self importance and ensuring the dues keep on flowing.

  27. jimbo 27

    Still refusing to see this from the other side. Still whipping up the rhetoric to ridicullous heights (I see “fascism” made an appearance further up the comments).

    The calm and reasoned arguements in favour of this law get ignored in preference for hyperbole and sloganeering. You guys pretend that the arguments is favour don’t even exist. You now pretend that the Act will have an “economically contracting effect” – that’s just total nonsense and contrary to a little basic analysis.

    The law is not in force so let’s consider the future:-

    I reckon Labour will not repeal what is a common law aound the world. Do any of you guys think Labour will repeal?

  28. keith 28

    – “Clint I understand your difficulty in trying to work out what Unions actually add to a civilised society and as a former Union Rep for the PSA I would say that they add very little.”

    – “I still firmly believe that unions have a place in society…”

    TBA, lemme get this straight; unions add very little to society yet you firmly believe that unions have a place in society?

    captcha: that’s analysis.

  29. Rex Widerstrom 29

    And from the other side of the equation, I was a partner in a business in NZ that paid its employees an hourly wage plus profit share. It was in the security industry, which is notorious for paying peanuts and employing monkeys (we got our first big contract after one big name firm’s guard slept through thieves emptying the entire premises, even of furniture. The client’s comment: “We weren’t surprised he slept. It was the fact his bloody dog stayed asleep too that sealed it” 😀 )

    We realised that one slip like that could see us sidelined, so told our staff they’d be paid on how long we retained contracts and on any new ones we picked up. Worked a treat. We went from two employees to 23 in a few months, had staff from the “big name” firms asking to work for us even though we had no office, used our own vehicles, no uniforms etc., and regularly won contracts by word-of-mouth.

    It wasn’t impractical for a small business – of which the majority of employers in this country are – so I don’t see how you can write it off so easily, Red.

  30. Redbaiter 30

    “so I don’t see how you can write it off so easily, Red.”

    Write what off? The example you outlined is not profit sharing. Its a performance bonus. I’ve got no problem with performance related bonuses. Who would have?

    Ask any real small business owner what they think of profit sharing. Most of them are lucky to make $70,000 wages. Profit too is subject to tax, so they don’t want to make it.

  31. Redbaiter 31

    “This new law puts the balance entirely in favour of the business owner, which is not usually how we organise rights in our politico-legal tradtion.”

    Nevertheless its the law today. If I was like one of the guys on your side I could say something like “we won you lost, eat that”, but I wouldn’t because I do have some sympathy for employees and know from bitter experience they are sometimes the victims of slack arsed penny pinching management.

    All in all, employer or employee, people are just people you know, and you cannot design legislation for every instance of unfairness or you’d just bog the whole hiring firing process down completely.

    I still say the bottom line is that this will make it easier for employers to locate and retain good employees. Therefore its an overall plus.

  32. Rex Widerstrom 32

    Redbaiter:

    I guess you could argue that what we offered was a performance bonus not profit sharing. But staff weren’t paid on their individual performances – because the partners were rarely on site when staff were working all we could rely upon was client feedback – but rather divided evenly at regular intervals based on profitability.

    And the partners got the same deal – we were paid for the hours we worked (and if it was pulling a security shift, which I quite often did, it was at exactly the same rate as staff) and received an equal share of the bonus.

    In fact I declared a loss on the partnership each year to reduce the tax I had to pay on other, more lucrative, activity.

    So I’d call that profit share… but I guess it is different to one that’s achieved via share allocations and dividends. I can see a problem with that in that it dilutes the equity of those shareholders who have cash invested… but some form of “staff payout based on overall profit” (versus individual performance, which I also support incidentally) seems to have a positive outcome.

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