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The Fire at Will campaign

Written By: - Date published: 3:48 pm, March 2nd, 2009 - 37 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags: , ,

It’s good to see the Council of Trade Unions offering solidarity to non-union workers who are subject to National’s fire at will law by providing free legal and industrial support.

As Helen Kelly said on the news last night, when the Government fails in its basic duty to protect workers from arbitrary employer power then it’s up to unions to step in and take responsibility themselves.

Part of that will involve organising protests and pickets to support workers who are exploited by this law, as well as leafleting and getting the word out through our communities. That’s going to require some people.

If you’re interested in helping out with the campaign make sure you register your details with the CTU and join up with the Facebook group.

The law may well have passed, but until it’s repealed we can help limit the damage and send a strong message to employers that any abuse will come with serious consequences.

37 comments on “The Fire at Will campaign ”

  1. gingercrush 1

    How are pickets and protests meant to change public perception. I sometimes think if anything they hurt things. The most important thing CTU could do is have a PR/Media strategy that involves getting those who were unjustly fired into the public arena. Because the one thing that allowed opposition in Australia to grow over the work reforms Howard pushed in. Was that eventually those who were unfairly fired, were then pushed onto programs such as “A Current Affair” and Today, Tonight”. That gave the issue a real push into everyday people’s mind and enabled real and meaningful opposition to those work reforms. Really the best thing, the left and those who oppose this bill.

    I hate to say it, but to win public support on this issue, you need sob stories. Those stories that end up on “Close Up” or “Campbell Live”. Otherwise, its just not going to garner anymore support than it is now.

  2. As long as the protests and pickets are within the law I have no problem.

  3. Tane 3

    GC, I can assure you the CTU has a more nuanced approach than simply picketing bad employers. For this post I’ve only included the elements of their campaign that the public can help out with.

    Brett, thanks for that, I’ll pass it on to Helen Kelly.

  4. BLiP 4

    I’m not sure that Facebook is really the way to go – employers are such a bunch of nasty bastards they are quite likely to log the names of all those on Facebook and black list them.

    Is there provision for anonymous registration until the need to go public in person is required?

    • Dean 4.1

      “I’m not sure that Facebook is really the way to go – employers are such a bunch of nasty bastards they are quite likely to log the names of all those on Facebook and black list them.”

      This explains your outlook on employer and employee relationships. Well done BLiP.

      • BLiP 4.1.1

        Huh? It is simply a warning. Most employment agencies already check Facebook when reference checking candidates for new positions. Don’t know how they do things in Toyland or where ever it is that you live.

  5. sweetd 5

    Will this work the same way with employees. Will they be named and shamed; to appear on Campbell Live and explain why they are a shitty employee?

    • Matthew Pilott 5.1

      I don’t know, perhaps you should ask the EMA that…
      I think you’re barking up the wrong tree asking here.

  6. Thanks Tane.

    I wounder if the CTU would love a counter protest?

    Oh that’s right, free speech only applies to them.

    Seriously I would hate to see an innocent business owner intimidated by these guys.

    • Felix 6.1

      But why would anyone target an innocent business owner? There is no point.

      Surely if you’re a good employer you have nothing to worry about. Are you getting it yet?

  7. ieuan 7

    So in amongst the on-going rounds of redundancies that are happening due to the recession starting to bite the union movement is going to protest that person xyz was somehow unjustly dismissed due to the 90 day law.

    Well good luck in getting anyone to notice.

  8. Felix:

    I’m saying some jackass could not do his job, turn up late for work, etc etc, he/she could get fired, then could contact the union give a sob story, and the union will be their marching and chanting their little chants, of course this worker doesnt know that thew union doesn’t actually give a fuck about him.her just their movement and their political leanings.

    I hope the union have some actually stats and hard data on why a person got fired.

  9. TightyRighty 9

    jeez, the rhetoric is strong here, but ultimately self deluding. If the union is going to get involved on behalf of workers who are “exploited” because of this great new piece of legislation, hadn’t they better realise this: that any worker who is repeatedly hired then fired within 89 days is probably just plain rubbish at any job given to them. be it attitude, skills or whatever.

    Now i know you are going to come back and say that you the union will only picket the sites where bosses do the hiring and firing repeatedly. the problem with the unions is though, they are not famous for being incisive in their observations of workplaces.

    [Tane: I don’t think you understand. The idea is that unions will get in behind any worker who is unfairly dismissed under one of National’s 90 day ‘probation’ periods. They need not be hired and fired multiple times to gain this backing.]

    • higherstandard 9.1

      Tane how will you know they have been unfairly dismissed ?

      • Matt 9.1.1

        Does it matter? If the business has done nothing wrong why would they worry?

        • higherstandard

          “Does it matter?”

          Yes – why would you want to make a fool out of yourself supporting an employee who was fairly dismissed.

          It would be as untenable as supporting an employer who has unfairly dismissed workers.

          • Felix

            Please correct me if I’ve taken you the wrong way, but it sounds like you’re saying that no-one can reasonably support either party in a sub-90-day dismissal – firer or firee – as there is no appeal process to determine the facts.

            Is that what you’re saying?

          • Matt

            @HS. Exactly my (and others) point…. If the employer has acted correctly and is happy with their actions then they can sit back and let the pickters/protesters make fools of themselves.
            Is this not the exact same thing as saying that if an employee is a good employee and does their job etc.etc. they have nothing to worry about?
            Surely you see the correlation here?

      • burt 9.1.2

        As if that is a consideration. Employer = bad – Employee = good.

    • TightyRighty 9.2

      Right, and as i pointed out Tane, the unions are not famous for the incisivness of their obvservations of employers. which means we are likely to see a lot of picketing going on outside the places of business of employers who have sacked rubbish staff. if the unions do only apply the standover tactics to exploitive employers then they have a measure of support from me, but i don’t think i’ll seriously have to offer the olive branch to the unions very often.

  10. RedLogix 10


    Whoa mate, I think you’ve just missed the point here. Of course it ‘matters’…

    Right now there is a reasonably fair system that BOTH the employer and employee have resort to, in order to determine if a dismissal was warranted or not. There exists an accepted process to discover the truth.

    This law change scraps that and the truth no longer ‘matters’.

  11. higherstandard 11

    “Right now there is a reasonably fair system that BOTH the employer and employee have resort to, in order to determine if a dismissal was warranted or not. There exists an accepted process to discover the truth.

    This law change scraps that and the truth no longer ‘matters’.”

    Ummmmmm nope that process still exists for all staff employed longer than 3 months.

    • Felix 11.1

      And it no longer exists for staff employed for less than three months.

      That is the issue being discussed. DUH.

      • higherstandard 11.1.1

        Duh unless they belong to a company with more than a certain number of staff

        • Felix

          Well you’re clearly just looking for excuses to not discuss the topic now so I shan’t waste my time.

          I might as well be talking to Brett.

          Actually Brett’s more fun because unlike you, he pretends to be less clever than he really is.

        • Matt

          Is it just me or for everyone that that response from HS conjures up the image of a child with his fingers in his ears going ‘ LA LA LA LA’ at the top of their voice?

  12. burt 12

    In the case of the EPMU looking after the workers rights of a dismissed individual how we will know how much of the noise they are making is acting in the capacity of a union doing their job and how much is acting in the capacity of the Labour party making some noise for political point scoring?

    • Daveo 12.1

      Because the EPMU is a democratic institution with a responsibility for its members burt. It doesn’t exist to score points for Labour, and nor does it need to.

      • Chess Player 12.1.1

        Are you seriously suggesting that the EPMU and Labour Party are not in bed together?

        How else was Andrew Little spawned?

        • lprent

          Do you seriously mean to tell me that all wingnuts are not the same? That they don’t all look like you, and you have the same intellectual capacity of a whaleoil? That they don’t all appear from a drunken haze like Clint Heine and friends appear to do? Or the incoherent rantings that FFM and D4J think are worth preserving for prosperity. It is the same question as the one you’re asking. To me they all look the same..

          There are major differences in both objectives and methods between the NZLP and the unions. I have to listen to them frequently from the NZLP side.

          At least I discriminate between wingnut trolls and mere wingnuts… I look at their behavior rather than with my prejudices. I realize that this will be a hard and radically new thought for you – but perhaps you should try using your brain once in a while

    • Akldnut 12.2

      Burt after all my dealings with unions. With any grievance the employer is given the opportunity to sit down and address any problem before any action is taken. In the event of the union member being at fault he is told by the union to wake up and get his/her shit together. They don’t act unless there is good reason. Nothing political in that.

  13. mike 13

    Good stuff Helen – just had to sign 2 individual contracts this afternoon for people leaving the union. As they say why pay for something others are getting for free. Why would I argue with that..

    • Daveo 13.1

      I doubt it. The CTU isn’t offering free union memberships it’s offering free protection against the 90 day law. Post up the links to the resignation forms and I might believe you.

    • lprent 13.2

      Mike all I can say to your claim is Bullshit

  14. Matt Holland 14

    Interesting thought. This bill (if used as is being described by it’s supporters, to give workers that may not otherwise get one a chance) along with measures discussed at the job summit such as 9 working day fortnight and bulk low paid jobs cutting out cycle ways, is likely to have a downward effect on the average wage.

    How is it going to look for Key, reported as saying ‘we’d love to see wages drop’, when wages actually do just that.

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