Back to the future with workplace laws

Photoshopped image credit: Luke

Mike Hosking points out what we probably already knew; that this government wants to take workplace regulations back to the 1970s and give most of the power back to the unions. Most of the workplace laws that unions historically fought for are now ensconced in law, but the unions have enormous power over the Labour party, and it seems they are determined to flex their muscle as much as possible.

The surprise in all of this is that former National Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, is the one leading the charge. Having led the government that produced the ‘mother of all budgets’, and imposed hardship on many New Zealanders, he now seems to be having an attack of the guilts. The Employment Contracts Act was, however, one of the better things he did. It is a pity that he seems determined to unravel it now. quote.

The committee looking into fair pay agreements has come back to the Government with their recommendations – this is a major upheaval to the New Zealand workplace. It is a rocket fuelled boost for the power of the unions, and will ultimately damage the Government in terms of workplace relations, growth, and electoral support.

There are a number of recommendations to be deeply worried about, but right near or at the top is the end of individual contracts. Individual contracts are the contracts most of us are on. When the Employment Contracts Act came along under the 1990-99 Bolger government it revolutionised the workforce.

Bill Birch was the key driver of the Employment Contracts Act. His Prime Minister, and here comes the irony, was the same bloke who is now the head of the Fair Pay Committee making these retrospective and Orwellian recommendations.

Jim Bolger liberalised the workforce, and now he wants to return it to a time, he must know full well, didn’t work for this country, hence he did something about it.

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I’m sick to death of born again socialists. His was one of the toughest governments of recent decades. The workplace reforms were much needed, and now he wants to put employer-employee relations back by decades. quote.

We, as we speak, have watched our Prime Minister argue for fewer tariffs in Europe to afford an FTA with a region still deeply immersed in economic falsities and hocus pocus. And yet it’s the same Prime Minister who presumably is going to embrace the Bolger recommendations to once again lock up our workforce, shackle our various industries to sector-wide agreements. .

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There is a large number of small employers in New Zealand. Will their employees have to belong to a union and become part of a collective agreement? How will that work?

Most people negotiate their own employment contract these days, and most employers show a reasonable amount of flexibility over it. It works. For those that want to belong to a union, they can. Why do we have to go back to enforced union membership and enforced collective agreements that bring down the standards of workplace behaviour and conditions?

We seem to be suddenly living in a world where envy rules all. Where, if you are exceptionally good at your job, that’s tough because you are not allowed special treatment. Where everyone in the gulag has to be treated equally badly, so that no one can complain about unfairness.

We used to be a country that encouraged innovation and excellence, but in the space of just over a year, we have lost all that. Now, we are heading towards unions running everything, no sanctions on those who get government handouts and a tax system that is already being described as one of the most punitive in the world.

There is one silver lining though. If this government succeeds in driving enough people overseas, we won’t need to build any houses. We all consider Kiwibuild to be an abject failure, but maybe, in a few months time, as the airports fill with people heading off for good, we won’t actually need it after all.