Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said many of the changes appeared technical, but taken together they were the biggest assault on workers rights since the early 90s.
I thought that was the 90 day trial period? Remember all the claims of how it would lead to horrific abuse? Well – where are the horror stories? we were the only country in the OECD without a proper trial period law, and they claimed it was the end of humanity or something when it came in.
The changes would not only affect union members but hundreds of thousands of other workers covered by collective agreements, she said.
What nonsense. It is illegal for anyone to be on a collective agreement unless they are a union member. So what Kelly has said is impossible. There are no workers on a collective contract who are not union members.
The changes are here:
- The Authority will have to either provide an oral determination at the end of its hearing, followed by a written record within three months
- The extension of flexible working arrangements so any employee, not just caregivers, can ask for flexible work. Employees will also be able to ask for flexible work arrangements from the start of their employment.
- A return to the original position in the Employment Relations Act where the duty of good faith does not require the parties to conclude a collective agreement. Instead, the Employment Relations Authority may declare whether collective bargaining has concluded.
- Allowing employers to opt out of multi-employer bargaining.
- Allowing for partial pay reductions in cases of partial strike action.
- Removing the 30-day rule that forces non-union members to take union terms and conditions.
- Changes to Part 6A so employers have greater certainty over the transfer of employees in certain industries such as cleaning, catering, orderly and laundry – if there is a restructuring or change in the contracted service provider. Small to medium-sized enterprises with fewer than 20 employees will also be exempt.
- Greater clarity as to what confidential information employers are required to provide to affected workers in situations such as dismissal or redundancy.
- Parties will be required to provide notice of a strike or lock-out.
Most of these changes were in National’s 2011 election policy. It is good they are keeping their word and implementing their policy.
Very pleased to see the 30 day rule is going. It is a stealth form of compulsory unionism where new staff are forced onto the collective contract and will become union members unless they opt out after 30 days.
My view is that union membership decisions should be purely between the employee and a union. if an employee wants to join a union they should go to their website, pay the fee, and join up.
UPDATE: To clarify the Employment Relations Act defines a collective agreement as being between an employer and a union covering at least two employees. Only a union can be party to a collective contract. The law previously allowed any group of employees to negotiate a collective contract.
Non union members can have the same terms as a collective contract in their individual contract, but they are de facto union members who still have to pay union fees – they just don’t get a vote. This is what has the unions so worried – they’ll lose the income from new employees who are forced into paying them fees if they do not opt out.