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Urgency

Written By: - Date published: 2:38 pm, December 8th, 2008 - 50 comments
Categories: Media, rumour, workers' rights - Tags: , , , ,

During this morning’s Nine to Noon politics segment Matthew Hooton was saying how he thought the Government’s 100-day action plan would only include policies signalled prior to the election when he let slip:

“And I’m sure while there will be some complaints about one measure… er… some measures…”

I wonder what that one unpopular measure could be?

Rumours abound that National is planning to ram its 90 day fire at will policy into law under urgency before Christmas to mollify its increasingly restless business base. Could this be it?

Certainly if you were a new government having to take people’s rights off them you’d want to do it quickly and with as little time for democratic discussion and debate as possible, then hope the Christmas break helps push it down the memory hole.

Personally I think it’s unlikely smart operators like National would risk the potential backlash from such a transparently undemocratic move, but my usually reliable sources suggest otherwise. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

50 comments on “Urgency ”

  1. ieuan 1

    I don’t think so. You guys seem to be the only ones obsessed by this.

  2. Tane 2

    You guys seem to be the only ones obsessed by this.

    Funny, the post links to an article saying it’s the top policy demand of the business sector, and barely an interview goes by without Phil O’Reilly or Alasdair Thompson banging on about it. Perhaps you should read more widely.

  3. Strathen 3

    I see this story is tagged in media, rumour, and workers rights. Why is it not tagged in Employers Rights?

    I don’t like perceived rights that exist at the expense of another’s. It’s the classic line a law student gives to the bouncer, ‘I know my rights, I’m doing law’. Most of these law students haven’t quite figured out that the bouncers and the pub have rights as well. It seems to me that those opposed to this legislation are the people who have not quite realised that Employers should have rights as well. Maybe one day education will catch up with the real world and systems can be developed to embrace the fact that everyone has rights, and they need to be evenly applied across the board. Not just to favour what commentators decide is the little guy.

  4. principessa 4

    I believe in equal rights, I just don’t think many employees have equal rights with their employers.

  5. Tane 5

    Strathen, employers do have legal rights. They’re allowed to own the means of production and have the power to compel workers under their employment, fire them if they don’t perform to expectations, restructure them, make them redundant, and take for themselves any wealth their employees produce. This power is granted, and enforced, by the full power of the state.

    The reason we talk about workers’ rights is because workers need rights to balance the inequality of power inherent in the employment relationship as outlined above. In my view, and many others’, National’s fire at will measures will tip the balance unacceptably in the employer’s favour.

  6. ieuan 6

    Sorry I didn’t explain myself properly.

    You are the only one’s obsessed by this being an unpopular measure.

    As for tipping the balance, this only affects new employees, 95% of the work force are unaffected.

    I read widely, hell I read ‘The Standard’ regularly and I am not a hard nosed righty or a loopy lefty.

  7. Strathen 7

    Tane – Yes, very valid rights for the employer if they were that black and white. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work that way. The current system only sees employers as cash cows. So to do workers after recent ‘low unemployment’.

    In my eyes, the only people that should be afraid of this legislation are the crap workers. Especially those that think they are really good, when in fact they aren’t. Some people shouldn’t be in the jobs they do.

  8. Tane 8

    ieuan, we’ll have to wait and see. Everyone I’ve talked to about it who isn’t a short-sighted employer has been opposed to it. The more long-term-thinking employers I’ve spoken to have seen it as unnecessary and potentially corrosive to their employment relations, as well as having a chilling effect on labour mobility.

    As for the ‘compromise’ of making it for small businesses only, I think people a) recognise the inherent unfairness in the policy, b) realise they too could work for a small business in future and c) understand that this measure is just the thin end of the wedge and soon enough it’ll be extended to cover everyone, including them.

  9. Tane 9

    Strathen, the law as it stands already takes care of “crap workers” if managers actually manage their staff properly. This policy puts everyone at risk simply to reward bad management.

  10. Chris S 10

    Strathen, Freedom for the Pike means death to the Minnows.

    We all have to share this little pond, if you know what I mean.

  11. rjs131 11

    Well if it the bill will mean the end of the world for workers, then i am sure it will bring out the best in the likes of Lynne Pillay, Darien Fenton and Sue Moroney in opposing it. Or maybe the reason such outstanding candidates like these 3 and Lesley Soper lost was that the public think this bill wont affect almsot all workers and businesses

    [Tane: I’ve just had a look through your recent comments – more than half are dedicated purely to taking cheap shots at Pillay, Fenton and Moroney. Start mixing up your game or I’ll start deleting your posts.]

  12. Graeme 12

    Everyone I’ve talked to about it who isn’t a short-sighted employer has been opposed to it. The more long-term-thinking employers I’ve spoken to have seen it as unnecessary and potentially corrosive to their employment relations, as well as having a chilling effect on labour mobility.

    Opposed to it, or opposed to using them?

    Good long-term-thinking employers can benefit from this – they can advertise about how they’re not going impose 90-day probation periods, and get all the good employees.

  13. ieuan 13

    ‘Everyone I’ve talked to about it who isn’t a short-sighted employer has been opposed to it. The more long-term-thinking employers I’ve spoken to have seen it as unnecessary and potentially corrosive to their employment relations, as well as having a chilling effect on labour mobility.’

    Well count me as one of your ‘long-term-thinking employers’ who thinks it’s a good policy.

    If you guys really want to fight for something how about getting better redundancy payment terms written into law because basically there is nothing at the moment.

  14. Tane 14

    The union movement has fought for and continues to fight for minimum redundancy protections. The CTU issued a statement calling for it just last week.

    As a result of union campaigning Labour even introduced a policy for the 2008 election to bring it in, but they lost. With a National/ACT majority in the house that policy is dead until at least 2011 and with changes to employment law it’s likely going to be much harder for workers to negotiate it themselves through their unions.

  15. Akldnut 15

    Comment ieuan – you’re right you didn’t explain yourself properly, Having started a new job 2 weeks ago I will be losing my current rights in a few days time you have flippantly disregarded the current working rights for approx. 107,000 workers (5% of people in the workforce) and put about the population of Dunedin potentially at risk.

    If you read a lot you may wish to read the links above to see what I mean.

    The mole-hill just turned into a mountain

     

  16. Akldnut 16

    Whats the matter with the re-edit and links????

    [lprent: Use the links button in the tinyMCE editor, but reedit is still HTML. I will fix the links]

  17. Johnty Rhodes 17

    At least workers will have more chance of keeping their jobs under National. They will not destroy the economy as badly as a Lab/Grns govt. This is more important in these more difficult times. Labour could not get a monolopy ACC system to work after all.

    Not all workers are equal and rest assurred, the deadwood will be the first to be culled if lay-offs are NECESSARY.

    Also, employers will not hire and fire after 90 days unless they have good reason. It is not worthwhile to do this unless necessary. Employers take on risk as well as extra costs after employing new staff (extra costs above salary, ACC, super etc) such as training, low productivity to begin with, HR issues, recruitment costs etc, etc. Why would you do this for the sake of 90 days employment then fire before you hire fulltime? The left do not seem to realise this.

    Employeers need more flexibility to have the best workforce possible, not nanny state interference from non-business parties like Lab/Grns. This will in time hopefully lead to higher productivity and more jobs. This is what NZ needs not higher social costs bourne by the employers in employing deadwood when they do not perform.

  18. Leftie 18

    Do workers want this? Do they know how it will effect their lives? People who don’t work may not want to see it imposed on people they care about.
    It is time to get a petition circulating the country on this issue. Maybe some employers will sign it as well.

  19. Johnty Rhodes 19

    Leftie – did 80% of the population want the S59 changed? People should have the right not to work just as the state should have the right to say sod off when they want a benefit instead.

    What workers should also ask in these harder times is also, do I want to keep my job? Unemployment will affect their lives more than a slightly more pro employer workplace. Lets face it, after 90 days all will be sweet as long as you pass muster. Most people will be ok. I may have to go thru the same 90 day process one day, it does not bother me. It has worked ok in the UK under a Lab govt for over a decade now.

  20. Chris S 20

    Johnty, you’re actually not hearing, or addressing, the argument.

    The argument is that this law is wide open for abuse. By taking away the employees right to appeal a wrongful termination, you’re seriously tilting the balance of power between employer and employee.

    What is wrong with the current probationary law? What doesn’t it allow you to do? How can it be improved without severely limiting the rights of a worker in these troubled economic times?

  21. gomango 21

    Very funny Tane:

    The union movement has fought for and continues to fight for minimum redundancy protections. The CTU issued a statement calling for it just last week.

    As a result of union campaigning Labour even introduced a policy for the 2008 election to bring it in, but they lost.

    Lack of a minimum redundancy payout is a disgrace and there should be a legal minimum – say 3 weeks for the first year and then 2 weeks for every year of service afterwards, and have it rank either ahead of or pari passu with the IRD.

    But the humour in your comment is classic – Labour were in power for 9 years and they got around to introducing a policy to maybe bring it in if they got in for a fourth term. What on earth where they doing for 9 years? Put that one along side all the other policies labour thought were brilliant and necessary (3 weeks out from an election).

  22. [Tane: Dude, you know better than that. Deleted, and warned.]

  23. Tane 23

    gomango – my comment addressed the issue of unions campaigning for minimum redundancy entitlements and illustrated the fact that they have. I’m not defending Labour taking nine years to bring it into policy – that’s why I vote Green.

    However, what I will say for Labour is that they overwhelmingly move in the right direction on workers’ rights, just very slowly. National overwhelmingly moves in the wrong direction, and often quickly. Minimum redundancy entitlements are a case in point.

  24. Tim Ellis 24

    Tane wrote:

    However, what I will say for Labour is that they overwhelmingly move in the right direction on workers’ rights, just very slowly.

    An interesting point Tane. If Labour moves slowly, and the Greens are up to speed with the direction that the unions want, why do so many unions continue to affiliate and provide so much support to Labour? If the Greens are the true voice of small-“l” labour, then why don’t the unions back the Greens instead of Labour?

  25. Tane 25

    Tim, there are a few reasons.

    First, working people don’t tend to vote Green. The Greens’ policies are very pro-worker, but their voters tend to be well-off middle class liberals. As a party its branding, its issues and its culture are not conducive to mass working class support.

    Second, unions have a long history with Labour going back nearly a hundred years. There are very strong links and they’re not going to go away in a hurry.

    And of course, unions have democratic structures to decide on affiliation. If members of unions want to affiliate or disaffiliate then in time they will. Labour’s number of affiliates is growing; I don’t think the Greens have provision for it in their constitution.

  26. principessa 26

    I couldn’t resist posting this headline that’s currently on the front of http://www.nzherald.co.nz: IRD: Tax system under pressure from rich avoiding tax

  27. Tane 27

    And their answer? Stop asking them to pay it.

  28. burt 28

    Certainly if you were a new government having to take people’s rights off them you’d want to do it quickly and with as little time for democratic discussion and debate as possible

    Not only new Govt’s. I’m thinking EFA. You guys supported the undemocratic way that was passed was that because Labour did it rather than National?

    Is it really that simple; Labour Good – National Bad !

  29. Tane 29

    burt – the EFA went through select committee and months of intensive public debate, and rightly so. It was not rammed through under urgency and without discussion like it appears the 90 day legislation will be.

  30. burt 30

    Tane

    Have the Human rights commission recommended the 90 day legislation be scrapped?

  31. Tane 31

    I don’t know if they’ll get a chance burt, it’s being rammed through under urgency. It does appear to be in breach of ILO conventions though.

  32. gingercrush 32

    Tane sorry but what is the ILO?

    I actually disagree with the 90 day bill being urgent. I agree with the policy but feel it should go through the normal thorough process. They could speed it up sure and bring it into urgency after a select committee process. This would mean that it’d be faster than normal policy but still allow for some decent debate and questioning about the policy. But it really shouldn’t be so urgent that proper questioning and debate can take place.

  33. burt 33

    gingercrush

    I agree, It’s not a case for urgency. As the EFA wasn’t a case for urgency to deny a strongly recommended second round of public consultation. The ETS wasn’t a case for urgency either. Perhaps I missed the posts being critical of Labour at the time. DPF certainly had a few, I wonder if DPF (and WhaleOil for that matter) will go bananas if Key uses urgency as Tane suggests he might.

  34. Tim Ellis 34

    Tane wrote:

    I don’t know if they’ll get a chance burt, it’s being rammed through under urgency. It does appear to be in breach of ILO conventions though.

    I’m sorry Tane but you really have no evidence for that. The 27-point plan that National published just before the election spelt out the priorities for the first 100 days. In case you missed it you can read it at http://national.org.nz/web/post_election_action_plan.pdf . The 90-day probation period isn’t in there.

    You have based your “rumours” on an online survey to justify a claim that National is planning to ram through under urgency a move that it did not set as one of its 27 priorities. I think that is mischievous, on your part. The article you link to clearly has Kate Wilkinson saying that the 90-day probation period is not one of National’s first 100-day priorities.

    As for what Hooton might have been referring to as controversial measures, you can judge for yourself where the controversy might lie. It’s hardly a secret agenda. Obviously in that list, some of the more contentious issues are:

    1. National’s tax relief
    2. RMA reform
    3. EFA repeal

    Labour is welcome to relitigate those issues if they choose to do so but if they are hoping some big fight over the 90 day probation period is going to be rammed through Parliament under urgency, they might be disappointed.

  35. burt 35

    gingercrush

    If we are really talking about democratic process. Retrospective validations weren’t a case for urgency either. Validations for misappropriations are by convention validated in the next budget. Timing is everything sometimes isn’t it.

  36. Tane 36

    Tim, the rumours I’m basing it on aren’t in the article. They’re based on what I’m being told by several sources who haven’t put me wrong yet. As I can’t reveal my sources, we’ll just have to wait and see.

    gc, International Labour Organisation.

  37. Tane 37

    burt, I think you accidentally bolded the word retrospective.

  38. burt 38

    Tane

    Sorry, I also have a comment in moderation. I think I used the ‘w h a l e’ word. That comment adds some context to the comment where I slipped with html tags.

    Oops – my bad.

    edit: Cheers.

  39. burt 39

    Tane

    Ummm, let me think…. Labour’s employment law allows a catering company to openly say the surcharge helps make up for quieter times of year. F###k me, what BS employment law allows that to happen.

    I can see that the situation published for the 7’s will add considerable support to almost anything National do. You see when people get a sniff of the fact that prices are hiked and workers are not getting the benefit. ERA suddenly looks a little tardy under that sort of flouting of it’s intent.

    I still don’t support urgency, it smacks of can’t be trusted. Why do you think some people nagged about it here on the standard over the last while?

    [Tane: That’s a wee campaign the hospitality’s been running against the Holidays Act for years. And while it’s highly visible I don’t see it having a lot of effect. Most people don’t begrudge workers being paid extra to work on a public holiday, and if businesses genuinely need to put their prices up to maintain their profit margins then good on them.]

  40. burt 40

    Tane

    May I also respectfully suggest that organising a strike at the 7’s would not be a good idea for the unions public relations. That is unless it was swift and effective at delivering the benefit of any price rise to the workers.

    [Tane: Burt, they’d have to be unionised and in bargaining for a collective agreement to strike.]

  41. Greg 41

    The government just recieved a very strong mandate from the electorate – as for public consultation about the policies thats about as democratic as you can get. JK signaled this was his intention and campaigned on it. I realise you did not vote for it, but a majority of New Zealanders did. Thats called democracy my friend.

  42. For all DPF’s bloody preening and carry on about how destructive Helen Clark has been to parliamentary institutions, conventions and what not, this whole putting parliament into urgency to pass what could be some pretty controversial stuff, seems very very unprecedented. At very least everything passed aught to have a 1 year sunset clause requiring it all to be re passed properly into law with proper consultation and process.

    “Strathen
    I don’t like perceived rights that exist at the expense of another’s. It’s the classic line a law student gives to the bouncer, ‘I know my rights, I’m doing law’. Most of these law students haven’t quite figured out that the bouncers and the pub have rights as well”

    You sound more like you have a chip on your shoulder than something to contribute, but moderately ironically, the student more likely hasn’t worked out that the bouncer knows he won’t ever be legally held accountable for his actions, so a comment like that is likely to get him a bashing.

  43. r0b 43

    I realise you did not vote for it, but a majority of New Zealanders did.

    Oh don’t be daft.  By far the majority of people who voted National would not have had a clue that this policy even existed.   It’s on National’s web site, but I don’t recall them “campaigning on it”.  More like “tried to keep very quiet about it”.

  44. Tigger 44

    The 90 day employment law is being drafted at the moment.

    Of course, it is being drafted under urgency and, no doubt, will be full of holes – this will create uncertainty. Businesses will end up cursing National as they stave off the inevitable law suits as lawyers test the loopholes.

    All in all should be a fun mess to watch unfold.

  45. higherstandard 45

    “Of course, it is being drafted under urgency and, no doubt, will be full of holes – this will create uncertainty. Businesses will end up cursing National as they stave off the inevitable law suits as lawyers test the loopholes.”

    Sounds like the EFA.

    “All in all should be a fun mess to watch unfold.”

    If it turns to cak it won’t be fun watching it unfold – unless you only think that our parliament exists so the public can cheer on their team and take joy in the other team failing.

  46. Felix 46

    Well, not all of parliament exists for that purpose but question time pretty much does. And I miss it so.

    Not long now…

  47. Tane 47

    Well, whaddya know?

    You read it here first:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4786640a6160.html

  48. Graeme 48

    The 90 day employment law is being drafted at the moment.

    Of course, it is being drafted under urgency and, no doubt, will be full of holes – this will create uncertainty. Businesses will end up cursing National as they stave off the inevitable law suits as lawyers test the loopholes.

    The 90 day bill was drafted a couple of years ago, and has already been to select committee. With any luck, all of those submissions should have picked up all the drafting flaws (there were some – removing the right of going to ERA to seek unpaid wages was pretty stupid, for example).

  49. Tane 49

    Graeme, can you tell me, are teachers covered by the policy? Because Anne Tolley and Kate Wilkinson have different answers.

    What about an employee of a Subway franchise with fewer than 20 staff? Are they covered?

  50. Graeme 50

    No, I cannot.

    My point was only that this bill *should* be more free of drafting errors than other bills introduced and passed under such haste. Not quite a silver lining for you, but better than it might have been.

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