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Friday, July 16

Key Government set to break election promise on employment law

The Key Government seems intent on breaking one of its own 2008 election promises and setting employment relations in New Zealand back two decades, said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman today.

John Key is likely at the National Party’s 2010 conference this weekend to widen the 90 day probationary period for new workers beyond small to medium businesses to all large New Zealand employers.

“Any plan to widen the 90 day fire-at-will law to all businesses during this term will be a clear breach of National's 2008 industrial relations pre-election policy," said Dr Norman.

“National’s pre-election policy paper clearly stipulated the probationary period is for businesses with fewer than 20 staff.
Dr Norman considers that the expansion of the 90 day fire-at-will law is aimed at National’s big business backers.

“This move will allow the biggest corporates in New Zealand to sack new workers at will.

“Workers in danger of being arbitrarily sacked will be reluctant to push for better working conditions.

“Taken together with National’s other policy of allowing employers to keep union officials out of workplaces this is the biggest assault on workers rights since the Bolger-Richardson Government of the early 90s,” said Dr Norman.

Green Industrial Relations spokesperson Keith Locke said "there are already common sense restraints on union officials coming on site, so that they don't violate safety rules or unnecessarily disrupt the work flow.

“Unions will simply not be able to service their members if they are mucked around by employers when they arrive at the factory or office.

“It is a recipe for de-unionising workplaces and can only benefit anti-union employers such as the Exclusive Brethren.

“Workers' hopes of bargaining for a better deal will be undermined if employers can veto on-the-job discussions with their union representatives.
“The proposed change breaches a fundamental human right, the right to access a union at work,” Mr Locke said.