By Mike Kay
The comments made by the head of the Employers and Manufacturers Association that pay discrimination against women was justified because they may take sick days when they have their period has rightly provoked widespread outrage. It seems hard to believe that Alisdair Thompson thought he could get away with spouting such crap. But the fact is that he has the arrogance born of someone who has been getting his own way for years. His comments have to be seen against the sustained attack on the working class for a generation. Even under the so-called “worker-friendly” Labour led government of Helen Clark, inequality spiralled and union membership stagnated.
Over its term of office, the National/ ACT/ Māori Party coalition government has instigated a number of anti-worker laws. The 90 day “sack at will” law was initially brought in for the benefit of businesses employing 20 or fewer staff. That law has now been extended to be available to all employers. Other negative changes for workers include the right of an employer to demand a sick note after a single day’s absence without reason, restrictions on union access to the workplace and the removal of reinstatement as the primary remedy for unfair dismissal. Tau Henare’s privatemember’s bill on Secret Ballots for Strikes is currently before select committee. All these assaults have gone hand in hand with attacks on beneficiary rights, thus squeezing the working class at both ends - both in and out of work.
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