Labour concede to NZ First on employment law changes

Unions had big hopes for Labour putting through significant employment law changes, but they have been pruned by NZ First.

Newsroom:  Labour concessions secure NZ First support for employment law changes

Labour has made two key concessions to employment law reforms to secure the support of coalition partner New Zealand First.

The two crucial tweaks were announced ahead of the Employment Relations Bill returning to Parliament for its second reading today.

The first change clarifies that an employer must enter into bargaining for a Multi-Employer Collective Agreement, but that the new legislation “does not compel them to settle an agreement”.

The second change confirms that union representatives will be able to enter workplaces as of right, but only where “union members are covered by or bargaining for a collective agreement”.

In all other cases, consent will be required from the employer before a union representative can enter a workplace.

NZ First leader Winston Peters first indicated his party was seeking alterations to the Bill in September when he said it was “a work in progress”. The issue was one of a number of outbreaks of friction between the coalition partners on a range of policy issues at the time. Peters today said NZ First’s contribution to the changes had been to “give small business a fair go”.

“We have looked out for small and medium-sized business to ensure that the law reflects their reality,” he said. “We heard that changes needed to be made to ensure small businesses weren’t unfairly treated under the legislation.”

So NZ First have been a moderating influence on this.

What about Green input?

The Green Party was also a signatory to the statement outlining the changes, although its contribution to the internal negotiations between the parties of government was not initially obvious.

“Employment relations have become out of balance in New Zealand and this legislation shows the government is listening and making the progressive changes that will benefit New Zealanders,” co-leader Marama Davidson said.

A vague statement, so hard to know.  The concessions show that Labour is listening to NZ First – that’s MP in action.

Barry Soper:  Beehive raises white flag to NZ First over Workplace Relations Bill

Labour’s flagship policy of giving unions more power in the workplace has run into rough seas, with the Beehive raising the white flag to New Zealand First and sinking the unions’ Good Ship Lollipop.

This bill, debated in Parliament’s bear pit last night, now has Peters’ party written all over it from the 90-day probationary period, which now applies only to business with 20 or more workers. Of course larger businesses have HR departments which can devise inventive ways of getting rid of people anyway. Labour wanted to get rid of what the unions call the fire-at-will trials until Peters put his highly polished shoe down.

Through gritted teeth the Council of Trade Unions have had to grimace and bear the peeling back of the changes they and Labour wanted. They rightly said most employers won’t notice the changes because this country already has similar provisions in law.

They acknowledge the MMP environment can make robust law change more of a challenge but are hanging out for further reforms in the near future.

That seems unlikely while NZ First remains in the mix.

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7 Comments

  1. PDB

     /  November 28, 2018

    This is why the Coalition govt will win another term – NZL First has stopped the looniest of ideas going through which leaves National less to attack as the economy continues largely intact as it was under the National govt. Bridges but the sacrificial lamb whilst National work on getting a more appealing leader.

    The right will feel confident NZL First will continue to do this whilst the left are just happy to be in govt even if that means actually not implementing most of their ‘change’ agenda.

    Reply
    • High Flying Duck

       /  November 28, 2018

      We’re living in very strange times when NZF have to be the moderating influence on a Government, and when it is this fact that will lead to re-election.
      It shows up both how loony and ill-informed the Labour party are, and how ill-prepared National are to be an effective opposition.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  November 28, 2018

      It probably doesn’t help National much when Simon supports the government’s handling of the economy?

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  November 28, 2018

        To not do so would be to say National was handling the economy badly. As mentioned all the economy busting policies the Coalition govt had prior to the election have either been delayed (working groups) or discarded. Even things like the oil and gas ban will take time to kick in.

        This govt in large is running the economy at the moment exactly as National was, albeit with more spending & borrowing than National were going to be doing at this stage – again things that won’t effect the economy until later on.

        It also goes to prove that Labour/Green supporters are simply not really after change but just want the reins of power. Their parties have largely rolled over on their economic ‘change’ agenda but generally not a peep from them in protest aside from the odd person like Bradbury who realises he’s been sold a lie. Immigration still high, TPPA equivalent signed, major workplace reform watered down, water tax thrown out, Kiwibuild doing nothing for people that can’t afford housing, foreign land sales still going through at pace, dairy cow numbers up 2.7% in the last year, homelessness at its worst last winter etc

        Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  November 28, 2018

    Soper: This bill, debated in Parliament’s bear pit last night, now has Peters’ party written all over it from the 90-day probationary period, which now applies only to business with 20 or more workers.

    Huh? I thought NZF had some time back secured agreement that the 90 day trial period (during which employers can fire anybody without giving a reason) would continue to apply to small businesses with 20 or fewer workers?

    Reply
  3. David

     /  November 28, 2018

    Ardern is playing a blinder lets hope she gets another term, has another baby to keep her busy and she stays in partnership with Shaw in charge of the Greens and the near retired Peters and lazy Jones because its like National without their constant interference and legislating.
    The legislation is literally neutered the business community will be delighted and the unions are getting huge huge pay rises so they are happy.

    Reply
  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  November 28, 2018

    The fact that NZF have toned down this iniquitous bill draws attention to its outrageous injustice in the first place, which made Labour look like Stalin’s Little Helpers.

    The legislation is figuratively neutered, not literally,.

    Reply

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