Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Labour Law Trenches

Ideally the government should be opting out of interfering with arrangements between employers and and employees, however we have to concede that recent proposals to free up labour laws by the current government is a step in the right direction.

The 90-day probation period that is to be extended to cover all businesses,  the requirement of employer consent for union access to workplaces and the freedom of choice for workers to be able to trade one week's annual holiday for cash is all good stuff that should be supported by tourism industry leaders.

We note two letters to the editor in today's Dom that were strategically published together and typified the trenches that divide the politics of labour law opinion.

The first letter was by mean-spirited, mistrusting state worshiper Dr PETER SULLIVAN of Johnsonville:
Good employers don't exist
Andrew Shirtcliffe (Letters, July 30) is being wilfully obtuse. He knows well the outrage over the 90-day probation period is about the deliberate removal of an employee's right to appeal against unfair dismissal or treatment.

Employers, under this regime, will be able to enter into a bargain with a worker, then renege on it to an even greater extent than is even now the norm. There is no such beast as a "good employer" - all are exploiters of other people to a greater or lesser extent, and it is this extent that should be controlled by strong legislation.

I think it's high time, given the many bad and plainly inept employers who can't follow even simple fairness-dismissal procedures, that employers were licensed and overseen by the Labour Department, with random and regular checks, so those not up to scratch are banned from employing people. Any that do so without a licence should find themselves quickly in jail for a substantial period.

The licence fee levied to support the department in this role should be very high to discourage cowboys. Perhaps then we'll see some reasonable employment practices rather than something akin to Third World exploitation. 
MICHAEL ANDERSON of Trentham has another view on the widening of the 90-day probation period that many reasoned small business owners can relate to:
I wonder how long it will take?
Timothy Williams (Letters, July 29) wants me to believe that 60,000 people will be dismissed in 90 days under new legislation before Parliament. I think he might find that employers are too busy driving the truck, stocking the shelves, doing the books and fixing mistakes to find time to dismiss people.
Perhaps Mr Williams should set up a welfare programme (disguised as a business) for lazy, dishonest and inept employees . . . and see how long he goes before wanting to shoot someone out of a cannon.

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