It seems that there has been relatively little media coverage of Labour's proposed industrial reforms. (Likely owing to the on-going lack of clarity around their tax policy) But much of what Labour are proposing has the potential to effect each of us to a much larger extent than the cancellation of a $20pw tax cut.
Within the first 100 days in Government, Labour will:
• Restore fairness rights for employees by replacing National’s 90 day ‘fire at will’ law with a fast, fair, and simple system.
• Introduce 26 weeks paid parental leave to ensure that families are provided with vital support at a crucial stage in their children’s lives.
• Restore reinstatement as the primary remedy when a worker has been unjustifiably dismissed.
• Restore the right to rest and meal breaks at work.
• Restore protections for vulnerable workers in cases where the sale or transfer of business is contemplated, or where outsourcing of jobs is proposed.
• Ensure that New Zealand employment law applies to everyone working in New Zealand, including foreign workers working for foreign companies.
• Increase the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour and base future increases on the real cost of living for people on low incomes. This includes working towards a minimum wage equal to two-thirds of the average wage as economic conditions allow.
• Remove the discrimination that prevents film and television workers bargaining collectively.
• Restore unions’ right to initiate collective bargaining in advance of employers.
• Restore the duty on parties who are in collective bargaining, including those in multi-employer collective bargaining, to reach an agreement once bargaining has been initiated unless there is a genuine reason not to.
• Restore the right for new workers to be employed on the same terms and conditions as provided by an existing collective agreement covering their workplace.
• Remove the ability for employers to deduct pay from workers taking low level protest action during an industrial dispute.
• Protect the human right to belong to a union by restoring the right for people to be visited by union representatives at their workplace to ensure their legal and collective rights are maintained and adhered to.
• Ensure elected union workplace representatives are given reasonable time within the workplace or work unit to carry out their representative role.
• Increase protection against discrimination based on union membership and strengthen the integrity of collective bargaining by tightening the rules on employers automatically passing on terms and conditions to non-union workers.
• Ensure new workers have all necessary information and access to unions at the commencement of their employment.
• Implement the changes to the Equal Pay Act as set out in the report from the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity Principles to give all women in female-dominated workforces access to collective bargaining and court processes to settle their claims.
• Ensure all workers in the core public service are paid at least the Living Wage and begin work with organisations that have regular and ongoing service contracts with the core public service to ensure they are Living Wage employers. We envisage the lowest-paid workers such as cleaners, catering staff and security guards will make significant moves towards the Living Wage during the first term of Government.
• Require all state agencies to only contract with organisations that comply with good employer practices, have a history of adhering to employment legislation, and respect the right of their workers to join a union and bargain collectively.
• Commence the establishment of appropriate governmental assistance to provide support to employers and unions that wish to work together to implement high performance engagement systems designed to lift productivity through worker participation in decision-making.
• Reform the current Productivity Commission so that it has a focus on wage growth and addresses explicitly the development of appropriate high engagement-high performance measures and behaviours in New Zealand workplaces and industries.
• Begin expanding and enhancing skill development and industry training programs to support the growth of high performance workplaces, higher wages and a Just Transition for workers who need new skills to adapt to the changing nature of work.
That's quite a lot to achieve before the end of this year!
...and before September 2018:
• Begin consultation on improving minimum redundancy protection for workers affected by restructuring, giving regard to the recommendations of the 2008 Ministerial Advisory Group report on redundancy and restructuring.
• Introduce statutory support and legal rights for “dependent contractors” who are effectively workers under the control of an employer, but who do not receive the legal protections that are currently provided to employees under the law.
• Investigate options for ensuring that people who work over 40 hours a week receive adequate remuneration.
• Increase the number of, and resourcing for, Labour Inspectors who are responsible for enforcing employment law and prosecuting breaches, and double the number of inspectors from 55 to 110 over our first term.
• Extend the right for workers to elect a health and safety representative from amongst their own to all workplaces, regardless of size or industry.
• Abolish youth rates.
• In conjunction with all relevant stakeholders, develop and introduce a legislative system of industry and sector collective bargaining that allows unions and employers, with the assistance of the Employment Relations Authority, to create Fair Pay Agreements that set minimum conditions, such as wages, allowances, weekend and night rates, hours of work and leave arrangements for workers across an industry based on the employment standards that apply in that industry.
• Extend the right to organise and bargain collectively to contractors who primarily sell their labour.
• Investigate measures that improve job security for people in precarious forms of employment (for example, labour hire, casual, seasonal, contracted or sub-contracted workers).
• Review bargaining fee arrangements to ensure they are fair to workers, the union, and employers for the extension of collective bargaining outcomes to non-unionised workers.
• Review multi-employer and multi-union collective bargaining arrangements to encourage their use and to support the development of Fair Pay Agreements.
I realise that it's relatively late in the election cycle now... but we could probably generate some good discussion on this in the final week here :-)