Being political

Ok, I don’t normally talk politics here, but this is kind of important, so I’m cross-posting it, in the hope that some of my NZ friends see it:

This weekend there will be rallies in the four main centres protesting the changes the government wants to make to employment law. There are a whole raft of changes, but the main ones that are concerning people are:

  • Employers will have the right to dismiss an employee without giving any reason within the first 90 days of their employment, and without the employee having any right of appeal. The government says this will create jobs, but there’s no real evidence for that, and anyway there’s already provision in the act for employers to set a trial period (the difference is that at the moment if you’re in a job with a trial period, and your employer decides not to keep you on, they have to actually tell you what you’ve done wrong – they won’t have to do that if the changes go through).
  • Employers will be able to demand a doctor’s certificate if you’re off sick for one day. At the moment, employers can only demand a doctor’s certificate if they’ve got a good reason (like if you always take Mondays off, or they saw you out playing sport when you’re supposed to have a bad back). If employees have to pay $40 to visit the doctor every time they’ve got the flu, they’re more likely to just go to work and end up infecting everyone.

  • Union reps will have to ask permission from the employer to enter a worksite. Many union reps do this as a matter of courtesy anyway, but they do actually have the right to enter any workplace even if the employer says no. Of course, the employers who are most likely to refuse entry to a union rep probably have employees who are most in need of help from their union.

  • A very subtle little change in wording is perhaps the most dangerous change. At the moment, if you’re in an employment dispute, the test the judge uses to decide if the employer acted legally is “What would a reasonable employer do?” If the changes go through, the test will instead be “What could an employer do?” – which is open to some pretty broad interpretation, because an employer *could* do just about anything, especially if they don’t have to be reasonable!

Anyway, if you’re concerned about this bill come along to one of the rallies:

Saturday 21 August 1 pm
QE2 Square beside Britomart

Saturday 21 August 1 pm
Civic Square

Saturday 21 August 1 pm
Cathedral Square

Sunday 22 August 11 am
Outside the Dental School on Great King Street

(And I really do promise I’ll post a real entry sometime soon!)