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July 26, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

National’s Labour Reforms Receive Mixed Reviews

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Extending the 90-day trial period to all employers was one of many proposed changes to the Employment Relations Act announced by Prime Minister John Key at the recent National Party Conference.

The proposed changes, which have received both criticism and support since their introduction just over a week ago, also include limiting union access to workplaces and allowing the Employment Relations Authority to throw out “frivolous or vexatious” cases early in the process.

Critics of the proposals include a number of trade unions and the Labour Party, who say they will repeal any changes to the act if returned to power. The 90-day trial period previously only applied to businesses with under 20 employees. The National Government argue that by extending this to all workplaces, employers will be more likely to take on new employees.

However, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) claims that young people have already, and will continue to suffer under the scheme.

In a recent press release, CTU pointed to Department of Labour statistics that reportedly confirmed that large numbers of young people were being fired without cause within the 90-day trial period.

“…The report appears to confirm the scheme is having severe impacts on working people.”

Others argue that young people are among those who will benefit most from the proposed changes.

In a statement to Salient, Student Job Search (SJS) said that the changes would increase the opportunities available for students.

“It reduces the perceived risk by employers of hiring staff that may not have a proven work experience track record (which is often the case for students who are relatively new to the world of work).

“It also provides an opportunity for students to get their foot in the door with large organisations who may offer internships or graduate positions,” says Lorna McConnon, SJS Marketing and Communications Manager.

In the past week, a Wellington-based group have held a protest and meeting opposing the proposed changes.

A bill amending the Employment Relations Act is being drafted for introduction later this year.

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