Monday, May 08, 2006

Restoring feudalism

Writing in the Sunday Star-Times today (offline), Chris Trotter make it crystal clear what Wayne Mapp's Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment Bill means for workers: a return to peonage. By ignoring the glaring power imbalance between employer and employee, the bill is "a charter for the most shameless forms of exploitation and abuse". Allowing termination at will and denying any access to personal grievance proceedings within the 90-day probationary period will mean employees will be vulnerable to every demand from their employer - no matter how unreasonable. The net result is that

[t]he National Party's industrial relations policy would turn every employer into a feudal lord, every workplace into his manor and every worker into his serf.

Though actually its even worse. In Medieval England at least, a serf could escape feudal bondage and become a free man by fleeing to a town for a year and a day. But in modern New Zealand, employment law is inescapable; the choice will simply be which lord you wish to be a serf for. And that is really no choice at all.


Ummm...Sorry to inroduce a note of pedantry because after all its your blog and you can rant if you want to but I think you might be being just the tiniest bit melodramatic here. I don't think National is going allow employers to brand people who run away, or cut off peoples ears and noses or reintroduce the stocks. I also do not expect to see any introduction of Droit de seigneur. I'm just saying...

Posted by Amanda : 5/08/2006 09:07:00 AM

MTNW: Oh, just a bit :). But this is very defiitely a step backwards towards the days when employers had absolute and arbitrary power over their employees, and i think its worth reminding people of what that once meant.

If feudalism is a bit much, just think back to the nineteenth or early twentieth century, when servants were forbidden from marrying and dismissed for getting pregnant. while this is covered under the HRA, the removal of the presumption that an employer needs a good reason to fire you (rather than just being in a mad mood and needing someone to take it out on) is going to result in a lot more abuse.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/08/2006 09:29:00 AM

MTNW: Oh, and for a non melodramatic example, what do you think will happen if a McDonalds worker joins a union in their first 90 days? Currently, the ERA (but not the HRA) forbids victimising people on the basis of union membership. But instant dismissal and no personal grievance procedures in the frst 90 days makes that effectively a dead letter.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/08/2006 09:32:00 AM

Hmmmm... Droit de seigneur...

Posted by Sanctuary : 5/08/2006 10:03:00 AM

Wayne Mapp has obviously been casting longing glances over the Tasman at what Howard and his happy sycophants are up to.

btw, is that accessibility doohicky for the word verification a new blogger feature or your own invention?

Posted by Chris : 5/08/2006 06:52:00 PM

Chris: Nothing to do with me; it just showed up one day.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/08/2006 10:30:00 PM

I'd expect this kind of rant on my site, but not on yours. It won't mean anything like the dire predictions you're offering. For your union example, fine, the employee waits until day 91 to join the union. Aside from that the bill is unremarkable, we'd hardly be the first nation to have probationary periods.


Posted by Anonymous : 5/09/2006 12:28:00 AM