Archive for the 'Employment Law' Category

Are more attacks on our work rights on the way?

The Prime Minister has signalled further changes to employment law if they are elected in November.

John Key told the Seafood Industry Council conference this week that the Government is planning further changes to employment law to create a “more flexible labour market”, but he didn’t say what the changes would be. He claimed that employers (and workers) would welcome the changes, but that workers’ unions would not like them.

CTU Secretary Peter Conway said the Government should spell out the future changes they are planning so that voters have a clear indication. “Every change enacted so far has made things tougher for workers when things were already tough from the recession.”

“The cost of living has gone up, wages are not keeping up, and meanwhile the Government keeps attacking the rights of New Zealand workers. What we need is to lift incomes through a minimum wage of $15 an hour, a stronger platform for industry collective bargaining, and increases in productivity which are shared with workers.”


Union denied access in taste of things to come

A range of new laws come into force next week that will be bad for workers, and workers at the Affco Imlay meat plant in Whanganui have had a taste of things to come by being denied access to their union.

Despite giving the reasonable notice required in the collective agreement, meat inspector staff were not allowed to see their PSA organiser.  PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said this was in breach of the legislation. “Union access is a fundamental right, whether that access takes place on the employer’s property, or in this case, a workplace that the employer doesn’t control.”

PSA organiser Mike Farrell said “It’s very rare to be denied access, especially when following agreed procedures. If union members are being denied the right to meet with their representatives now, how is it going to be after 1 April when union officials seeking to enter workplaces must first gain employer consent?”

Look out for more on the law changes next week.

Minimum wage ‘rise’ woefully inadequate

The Government decision to cut the value of the minimum wage by increasing it by only 25c to $13 an hour when inflation is 4 percent will drive more workers into hardship, said the Council of Trade Unions.
“We are talking about wages that are already insufficient to meet basic costs and about a group of workers worst affected by increases in food, rent, fuel and power,” said CTU President Helen Kelly. “These families are already reporting extreme hardship and any government that genuinely understood this would have increased the rate by significantly more.”
“The Government gave generous tax cuts to those on high incomes but gives a miserly increase to those on the minimum wage.”

CU Baywide changes unfair parental leave policy

Finsec members have sorted out another ‘misunderstanding’ about paid parental leave law, this time with Credit Union Baywide. CU Baywide’s policy – that staff on parental leave should take all their annual leave before they return to work, and therefore it be unpaid – was not only unfair, it didn’t comply with the law!

One Finsec member raised the problem and our union challenged it. The result is an amended policy which is being communicated to all affected staff, along with an apology for the error.

This case shows the importance of being union to make sure you’re treated fairly before, during and after parental leave.

Mondayise me!

Union members everywhere will follow the debate on Mondayising public holidays closely. We’re all feeling a little short-changed this year, with ANZAC day and Waitangi day both falling on the weekend with no day off. That means only 9 public holidays, compared to the usual 11.

Help could be on the way, with a member’s bill from Labour MP Grant Robertson to ensure that if either holiday falls on a weekend from now on, that the following Monday will be a day off work. The festivities for the days would still take place on the proper calendar date.

The government has been more cautious on the Mondayising of these holidays, saying it’s not so simple.

Union members standing up to 90 day fire at will trials

Unions are taking on 90 day trial periods, with thousands of workers now being protected. Union members have negotiated several large collective employment agreements that ensure the trial periods won’t be used.

From April, new workers will be able to be dismissed without rights of appeal in their first 90 days. However, union members at Fonterra, the TAB and Victoria and Massey Universities have already negotiated exemptions.

However, Government is seeking to ensure all public sector workers – including police, teachers, nurses and firefighters – will be subject to the trial periods.

Finsec members are also planning our strategies for the best protection from the new, unfair law.

And check out this link for a fun demonstration of the impact of the new law:

Parliament passes 90 day fire at will bill and sick leave laws

Despite thousands of submissions against them, government this week passed legislation to extend the 90 day fire at will periods to cover all workers  and to allow employers to require medical certificates after just one day of sick leave.

Finsec President Kelvin Pycroft said the Employment Relations Amendment Bill passed this week includes a raft of changes that remove rights from working people. “These bills are an attack on working people. They are unnecessary, unpopular and unfair. And the campaign to stop them needs to continue.”

“Our union is already considering ways that we can help protect Finsec members from these changes,” said Pycroft.

“Our campaign will include putting political pressure on government and also working with employers in the finance sector to ensure these unfair new laws are not put into practice in our industry.”

Government fails to listen on employment changes

The Government has failed to listen to public concerns on changes to employment law, says the Council of Trade Unions. The report back on  their two bills show no significant changes to plans to remove appeal rights from all employees in their first 90 days, restrict union access to workplaces, allow employers to demand a medical certificate for a single day’s absence, and encourage the sale of the fourth week’s annual leave.

“More than 8000 people took the trouble to register their opposition to these unfair and unnecessary changes by making a submission to the Select Committee,” said CTU President Helen Kelly. Thousands, including hundreds of Finsec members, participated in activity on October 20 to oppose the changes.

“The vast majority of submissions pointed out that the effect of the changes will be to reduce productivity, breed disharmony and mistrust in the workplace, and depress wage growth and the country’s ability to even keep pace with Australian salaries.”

Finsec members’ stand for fairness

Hundreds of Finsec members around the country were part of a crowd of around 22,000 union members who took stopwork action this week in support of fairness and against cuts to our rights at work.

Tai Ah-Ching from Westpac Business Direct was one of the many thousands who packed out the Auckland venue, and came back inspired. “This was the first big union event I’ve been to and it has really influenced me to stick with Finsec.” So much so that Tai has already been talking to her non-member colleagues about the campaign and being part of Finsec.

“Listening to the speakers gave me a real motivation to stick up for our rights at work.”

ANZ National Union Councillor David Baker spoke to the 1500 strong crowd in Hamilton about the moves to cut workers’ access to their union. He told the meeting that the change would reduce union density and ultimately reduce pay and conditions, and finished by saying “Kia kaha. Stand tall, stand strong and let’s fight this battle.”

Watch this space for the next steps in the Fairness at Work campaign

Massey University to hire staff for good, not just 90 days

The Tertiary Education Union announced this week that it has negotiated that any new staff hired at Massey University will not be subject to a ninety day fire-at-will provision.  Massey University has committed that, even if the government’s introduces its proposed new employment laws which deny workers their basic personal grievance rights in the first ninety days of work, those laws will not apply to staff at Massey University.

TEU deputy secretary Nanette Cormack said good employers shouldn’t have any need for the government’s proposed new laws.

“Good employers are willing to put the effort into advertising, interviews, training and management so they keep their staff for a long time not a few months.”

“Good employers already have the tools they need to give workers a chance, trial them and even dismiss them, without taking away basic employment rights. Workers don’t want these new laws and good employers don’t need them. Which raises the question who they are really for?”

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