How to stop National’s threat

August 8, 2008

- Don Franks

Under the guise of “giving young, inexperienced people or new immigrants a better chance at a job”, National is proposing a new restriction on workers.

“We will introduce a 90-day trial period for new staff, by agreement between the employer and employee, in businesses with fewer than 20 people,” National party leader John Key announced in a 24 July press release.

During this 90-day trial period, either party may terminate the employment relationship for performance without a personal grievance claim being brought.

National’s proposal should be rejected by all workers and fair-minded people.

The personal grievance procedure is no fail-safe protection against unfair dismissal, but it does provide a narrow avenue for workers to contest injustice. National’s election promise to deny new staff access to their day in court would move the bar even further in the employer’s favour.

National’s industrial proposals have been roundly condemned by trade unionists. NZ Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly says: “Cuts in workers’ rights and entitlements and privatisation are all this party has to offer to date.”

She says National’s industrial policy “really will clarify for workers and their families which parties have their interests at stake”, concluding that “instead of supporting the current approach balancing employer and employee interests, [National] is trying to drag us backwards”.

Helen Kelly is quite right to condemn National’s anti-worker 90-day trial. But she ignores the fact that National promises to retain significant current labour laws which she supports, and will:

*continue to allow union access to workplaces with an employer’s consent, which cannot be unreasonably withheld

*continue to support the social partnership with Business NZ and the CTU to work together on issues of mutual interest

*retain the Mediation Service.

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Casualisation: real jobs and con jobs

August 7, 2008

- Don Franks

For those of us in the working class, few things are more important than having a real job. A real job produces stable predictable earnings. It pays enough for us to support ourselves and our dependants, with a bit left over for some luxuries, savings and fun. A real job is also a big part of our social life. For many people their workplace is a sort of secondary family; in some cases the community of an individual’s job provides their main social connections. In every case a proper job gives us a feeling of social worth, a feeling that we belong, and that we count for something because others count on us.

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Workers Party talks to union officials

July 1, 2008

Workers Party Wellington Central candidate Don Franks reports on his recent meeting with NZ Council of Trade Unions representatives.

When the local CTU organiser emailed around to say the Local Affiliates Council was going to discuss General Election strategy, I called back and asked for a few minutes to put our case at one of their monthly meetings. They stalled for weeks and wanted more information in writing before they finally gave me a hearing, at the local AGM.

I explained that the Workers Party is standing several electorate candidates this election and we’re also running on the party list. So, for the first time in New Zealand’s political history, every worker will have the option of voting for a socialist candidate.

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CTU president sides with scabs in junior doctors’ strike

June 6, 2008

- Tim Bowron

Council of Trade Unions President Helen Kelly has condemned recent strike action by junior doctors employed by district health boards, claiming that it risks giving unions “a bad name”.

In an article published in the Sunday Star Times on April 27, Kelly criticised the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) for not supporting the “modern” partnership model of unionism promoted by the CTU as well as unions such as the Public Service Association. According to Kelly’s prescription, instead of taking industrial action the RDA should be joining in the “tripartite forum” already established by CTU unions along with the Ministry of Health and the DHBs to talk through the issues. Moreover, she said, “the RDA focused on industrial matters and lacked wider professional advisers, such as policy analysts, economists, lawyers and advocates.”

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