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Rebalanced employment law on the horizon

Working people are looking forward to fairer employment law passing this side of Christmas says Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff.

Mr Wagstaff says that the Employment Relations Amendment Bill will make it easier for working Kiwis to access their rights at work, and restore dignity in our workplaces. “Basic norms of workplace culture, like the right to have a cuppa, to access help and advice from your union and the time to make informed decisions when starting a new job will be strengthened,” he said.

“Most employers won’t notice the changes, because New Zealand has already had similar provisions in law, and treating working people’s choices and contributions with respect is how good businesses already operate.”

“However, we have seen some unscrupulous operators try to drive down working conditions and normalise insecure, low paid, un-unionised work. The eating away of working people’s rights at the margins was a deliberate move by the last Government to put business lobbyists ahead of the wellbeing of working families. This Bill moves us away from a wage-competition, free market model. It gives working people and their unions the ability to push back against exploitative employers.”

“We would like to see further moves in the future like the scrapping of 90 day ‘fire at will’ trials, which particularly threaten vulnerable people in already precarious employment. In an MMP environment, robust law can take time to work through. We are encouraged that this Government has consulted with us and other stakeholders to date, and we expect to see further, carefully managed reforms in industrial relations in the near future.”