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.”

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