Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Labour's betrayal

On Friday the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee reported back [PDF] on Sue Bradford's Minimum Wage (Abolition of Age Discrimination) Amendment Bill. As passed at first reading, the bill would have done exactly what its name suggests - abolish age discrimination in employment and ensure equal pay for equal work by abolishing youth rates. However, the committee had other ideas, and have totally rewritten it so that lower rates may be retained for "new entrants", which they recommend as being those who have worked for less than 200 hours. Given the highly casual nature of youth employment, this is likely to be five months for most of those currently earning youth rates, and possibly as long as nine months for some. So the Maori Party aren't entirely wrong in referring to it as a resurrection of Wayne Mapp's probationary employment bill.

The bill being gutted is bad enough, but what really stinks is that it was done by Labour. "The worker's party", supposedly committed to principles of equality and social justice, is backing the bosses and supporting the continued exploitation of the young. I guess now we know whose side they're really on.

Finally, it's clear from the Greens' minority view that these changes were made despite Bradford's objections, and it will be interesting to see what she does next: withdraw the bill, as she threatened to do for section 59, or delay it in the hope that Labour might remember their principles or be forced to change their minds.