There’s the predictable wailing and gnashing of teeth from Business about the government’s Employment Relations Amendment Bill. That, along with the increase in minimum wage, according to them, is going to ruin us.
The amendment is not radical. It largely restores what was in law until the National Government changed it in 2014 and is part of the Government’s first 100 days programme.
Somehow the country survived all those years before. (many workers paid the price, but that’s another story).
But the noise from bosses is already deafening.
This submission from the Hospitality Association on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill is an example.
“Rather than trying to strengthen union presence in a sector predominantly made up of SMEs, who have very few staff who actually belong to a union, we believe the Government should be encouraging all employers to join their relevant Business Association to ensure they get the right assistance and advice to help them move towards best practice in all aspects in their business. In turn, this will bring about the desired outcome of improved business profitability and sustainability which would then enable businesses to pay their staff more.”
So according to them they are victims and the government shouldn’t be worried about enabling workers to freely join unions and negotiate collectively, but instead they should prop up their various business associations.
And guess what? The old trickle down will happen.
To be honest, I was gobsmacked by this. I shouldn’t be. I’ve been around long enough to know better. But it’s only the beginning.
The government has embarked on the next round of work, which includes fair pay agreements, so if you think the hysteria is loud now, just wait.
But in the meantime, submissions are on-going. It pays to watch as it gives a good indicator of the opposition workers face.
There will be many workers who have something to say as well.
And as we do, and have always done, we keep campaigning. Labour has a big programme. If we think this is noise, get ready for the rest.
Darien Fenton is a former Labour Party MP and is currently the Director of Organising with the NZ Meat Workers Union