The Spark February 2009
Kindergarten teachers are seeking to ensure they don’t cop a 90-day trial period when they start a new job.
The workers’ union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, has lodged the first employment claim in response to the National government’s anti-worker Employment Relations Amendment Act 2008. (Under the new law, rushed through Parliament before Christmas without any public consultation, an employer need give no reason for sacking someone in any work site of less than 20 people within the first 90 days of their employment.)
NZEI’s National Secretary Paul Goulter says the union believes the 90-day probation legislation is unfair and unjust to workers and has serious implications for the education sector where recruitment is a major challenge.
Through the claim, NZEI will be seeking the agreement of the Ministry of Education and Kindergarten Associations that a 90-day trial period is neither necessary nor desirable, and will not be contained in the kindergarten teachers’ collective agreement.
Marion Dekker, a kindergarten head teacher from Tauranga on the NZEI negotiating team, says: “Many teachers move to gain promotion and develop their career. They’ll be reluctant to go to a new job if there is no certainty of employment… Small kindergarten associations in rural areas which already find it hard to attract and retain staff will find it even more difficult.”
Bargaining over the kindergarten claim is due to begin in early February.
United union campaign needed
Agreement negotiations can be an effective way of making bad laws inoperable. But the fight can’t be left to just one union alone. Especially when the struggle is against a brand new law that’s popular with employers. A united union campaign is needed to win this one.
As the central union body in the country, the NZ Council of Trade Unions has a responsibility in this matter. The CTU should be out there right away, organising maximum multi-union support for the kindergarten teachers.
A victory against the 90-day probation law in the early childhood education sector will benefit every other worker in the country. Why not ring the CTU - or your own union office - and ask what’s being done to help the fightback against National’s anti-worker law?