Little privately tries to clarify his 90 Day Trial stance

Apparently Andrew Little has tried to clarify his stance on 90 Day Trials in an internal Labour email.

As posted this morning:

Stuff reports: Labour would retain 90-day trial periods, but make them fairer – Little

Andrew Little appears to have made an about turn on labour law reform, ruling out abolishing the 90-day trial period for workers.

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has called on Labour to clarify its position and the Government is accusing Little of “weasel words”.

At a breakfast in Upper Hutt on Friday, Little was asked about Labour’s position on 90 day trial period, in which employers can dismiss workers.

“Our policy is to add a fairness requirement,” Little said.

The question frequently came up from employers, Little said, with every employer indicating they already gave feedback to any worker they let go, so they would not be affected under Labour’s policy.

“We just want to make a requirement to give feedback so the person knows whether they’re on track to make the grade or not.”

Asked afterwards if that meant that the trial periods would certainly stay, Little said: “Well we wouldn’t be talking about making the 90 day trial periods fairer if we were going to get rid of it.”

Any changes would not have a significant impact on employers, Little said.

“There won’t be any new onerous obligations in that regard, but it will make it fairer and we will write that into law.”

This was regarded as quite vague by some, including Labour supporters.

At The Standard Anthony Robins posted Labour on fire at will and commented:

I hope we get some clarity on this today. I would not be surprised if the original report of a change in policy turns out to be correct, the quotes from Little seem pretty specific. I think that Labour has to “swallow some dead rats” to get traction again, and this may be one of them.

After discussion and some strong criticism Labour Party member Te Reo Putake revealed Little has sent out an email to some in Labour. He first commented:

Andrew Little comments:

“During the press conference that followed I was asked about our position on the 90 day trial period. Labour has not, and does not, support the 90 day law as it stands. It is unfair and needs to change. As part of our overall policy review we are working with businesses, workers and their unions about how fair trial periods will work.

Labour is not opposed to trial periods where they provide opportunities for those who might not otherwise get them and where they are applied fairly. That kind of trial period has been provided for in our law for many decades, but the law National brought in is unfair and we will change it.”

Weka asked:

Where’s that from trp? Would love to see it up as a post (Notices and Features?) just so there is a clear statment that is highly visible.

Te reo Putake replied:

An internal email this morning, weka. I’ll add it to the post (assuming r0b doesn’t mind?).

That confirms that he is privy to internal Labour correspondence (and is an author at The Standard).

Another party member Colonial Viper responded:

I don’t understand, who did Andrew Little issue this clarification to?

Why has it not been put out as a standard press release – is there a reason Little won’t stand behind this statement in public?

And that suggests it was a limited circulation. Presumably Te Reo Putake had clearance from Little or Labour to publicise internal correspondence.

As following comments reveal not all party members got this email – TRP seems to have privileged contact with Little. Interesting that TRP is helping defend the backflip, putting his party interests ahead of his union interests.

It’s worth re-posting these quotes here:

”We don’t need the 90-day law and under Labour it will go.”
Source –

“Labour would, however, not back away from its plans to change employment law, including scrapping the 90-day trial period for new employees.”

– Radio NZ

Following comments claim that this clarifier is still quite ambiguous – more on this in the next post from the architect of the law.

UPDATE: Author of 90 Day Trials Wayne Mapp says that Little’s clarification is ambiguous – 90 Day Trial legislation author joins debate

Leave a comment


  1. SteveRemmington

     /  18th July 2015

    It’s interesting that Union delegate TRP has seen fit to attempt to cover up that he received the information before other members by deleting an edit to the original post.

    It makes a mockery of Prentices claim of separation between the party and the blog authors.

    Let’s see:
    Robbins posts original
    Edit- TRP posts Littles comments
    Edit- Bill re-edits to say comment not public but in internal email to TRP
    Edit- TRP deletes Bills edit and claims Littles comments are via a members email.

    Deleting edits to the header page is always bad optics TRP 🙂

    • Denying your ties to a political party while advocating for that party; smells like dirty politics to me. I wonder why there is this denial? Is it because Labour is embarrassed by The Standard, or is The Standard is embarrassed by Labour?

      • TRP hasn’t denied ties to Labour but he seems to downplay just what ties he has with the party and his connections with Little.

        The Standard spiel is that all authors post as individuals and don’t represent party lines or act as PR conduits. There’s some fairly grey areas there.


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