Your Working Conditions Under Attack
Proposed changes to employment legislation will affect rights and conditions at UNIVERSITIES and elsewhere. Help prevent these changes!
Since National got back into power they have been slowly but surely taking our workplaces back to the bad old days of the 1990s, when market forces rules over common sense and planning, and workers and their trade unions were treated as enemies. The poor performance of the Kiwi economy in the '90s and the financial meltdown of 2008 prove that the neo-liberal, 'market knows best' policies don't work - but the Nats and their Act partners are ploughing ahead with these policies anyway.
As a case study of how neo-liberalism affected workers read this background document for my union’s current campaign for a Fair Pay system for General staff at the University of Auckland.
Last month John Key announced the National Government's plan to drastically change employment law in New Zealand. If passed the changes will take away workers' rights, remove protections, cut pay, reduce holidays and diminish access to sick leave – you can read more about how the Nats are attacking workers' rights at the CTU’s Fairness at Work website
I believe these changes are just the beginning and National will do all it can to re-introduce its neo -liberal policies.
Specific concerns for the tertiary education sector
The government ha s indicated that it would like to give funding to courses that directly benefit the economy. Firstly, how can we predict what skills and jobs we will need in the future?! Secondly, I fear that this move would devalue the Arts and Humanities cutting funding to programmes like philosophy and history. These disciplines play a vital role in our society, helping us understand our culture and ourselves. They help develop critical thinking, literacy and analytical skills – all of which are useful for individuals, society and employers. I see the role of a university as a critic and conscious of society. It’s a place where ideas are developed and skills learned. It’s not a corporation!
No right to appeal against unfair dismissal and unfair treatment at work
The government is introducing legislation into parliament that will give employers the right to sack any worker instantly during the first ninety days of their employment. Rights of appeal and processes for fair dismissal form part of our collective agreement. The 90 day 'fire at will' bill undermines negotiated processes, making all staff vulnerable. Di smissals lower morale and make us afraid to speak out.
Four weeks annual leave threatened
Many NZ workers have only just won this entitlement. Now there are plans to let employers buy back the fourth week. This could undermine our claim for more leave here at the University of Auckland. Staff who are overworked and underpaid will feel the pressure to trade their annual leave for money.
Staff and members of your union help and support you, and represent you when negotiating for better pay and conditions. The government has tabled legislation that would restrict union access to worksites. This will seriously undermine our ability to bargain collectively for improvements in our workplace, and threaten the union movement general ly - increasing the power imbalance between workers and employers.
Fair pay for women
Women are under-represented in top University jobs, but the Pay Equity Unit that audits the pay gap and makes recommendations has been axed. Fair pay for women is off the agenda.
Rest and meal breaks
A new Bill would make the length and timing of rest and meal breaks negotiable. Research shows that regular breaks are vital for health and safety at work. The National Party supported standard meal breaks for all workers before the election, but now they've broken thei r promise, and want to give employers more control over when and how you can take your breaks.
Tertiary education funding linked to student performance
There is a danger that institutions will seek to lift their funding by excluding students they think are less likely to succeed, and that pressure will be put on teachers to lower their standards so that students can pass their courses with poor performances.
Funding for night classes axed
The government axed most of the funding for night classes. This deprives people of affordable opportunities outside work hours to lift their skills.
Doctors agree that requiring a sick leave certificate for just one day’s illness is unworkable. WARNING: this could be the government’s “loss leader”! This proposal is so unworkable that it is probable the government has thrown it into a package of very real and serious reductions in work rights so that it can withdraw it and look moderate later.
Unions are committed to stopping these changes and building a New Zealand where we all enjoy fair rights at work, decent wages and access to strong public services. Please join the rally on Saturday the 21st of August and show your support for workers’ rights.
Auckland Fairness at Work Rally
QE2 Square (bottom of Queen St, opposite Britomart)