Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Extending unfairness

A little over a year ago, the government abused urgency to ram through a 90-day probationary period for new employees. A boss can sack any new worker within 90 days without having to give any reason. Those subject to the probation period have no protection against unfair dismissal and no right to natural justice or reasonable treatment. While they theoretically still have a legal right against discrimination, sexual exploitation and harassment, in practice the probationary period makes those rights unenforceable. The result is that people are effectively reduced to serfdom, forced to accept whatever their employer demands, and denied existing rights such as the right to join a union because they could simply be sacked for exercising them.

This unfairness is a blight on our legal system, and it should be repealed. Instead, the government wants to extend it. They also want to expand its application so that even more workers can be subjected to arbitrary and unfair treatment by their bosses. Reading the discussion document, they also seem keen to limit the access to effective representation by those who do have employment rights.

These are not the actions of a government interested in fairness. Neither are they the actions of a moderate government of the sort John Key promised us. Instead, they are the actions of a government hellbent on tilting employment law to the advantage of employers, to the detriment of the vast majority of kiwis.

Fortunately, its not law yet, and we have a chance to speak out. If you'd like to do so, you can make a submission here.