Thursday, September 10, 2009

A fair deal in hard times

Last month Darien Fenton's Employment Relations (Minimum Redundancy Entitlements) Amendment Bill was drawn from the ballot. The bill is based on the work of the Public Advisory Group on restructuring and redundancy, and establishes minimum entitlements for notice of dismissal in the event of restructuring, as well as a statutory minimum redundancy payout of 4 weeks pay for the first year, plus an additional 2 weeks for every year thereafter (to a maximum of 26 weeks pay). This is good for workers, and good for the economy - contrary to the claims of employers, worker protections such as redundancy entitlements do not increase average unemployment, but significantly reduce it in hard times (for pretty obvious reasons). Which makes it exactly the sort of measure we need to keep people in jobs during the current recession.

The bill has the support of Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party, and all the major unions - but, sadly, the government doesn't support it. So Fenton has delayed its first reading and launched a campaign to change their minds. The first step is a petition, asking the House to call on the government to pass the bill (the convoluted wording is because you petition Parliament, not the government). You can get a copy here [PDF]. Download it, sign it, and pass it around your friends and workmates, then send it in. The more signatures it gets, the greater the weight it will carry. There are other actions you can take as well; see here for details.

This bill is both pragmatic and progressive; hopefully the government can be convinced to see sense on it.