Changes to employment law in the Employment Relations Amendment Bill are a topic of hot debate, today over 1000 workers showed their support for the proposed changes at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.
FIRST Union is carrying out its Stop-Work meetings around the country to update members on the ERA changes. At Auckland’s meeting staff from retail, finance, distribution and transport brands took part in a 1000+-strong photo in support of the proposed ERA bill. The changes seek to restore the minimum standards and protections for employees to ensure workers are paid fairly and work in acceptable working conditions. Workers are most hopeful about the return of shared responsibility of both parties at the negotiation table – the duty of employers to conclude bargaining – so they have a fair shot at securing fair pay that values their work.
Hundreds of staff also signed a banner as part of the Worth It retail campaign which calls for the Living Wage, enough hours to live off and relativity to the minimum wage. To find out more about the campaign see here:
FIRST Union General Secretary Dennis Maga says the proposed changes reverse much of the eroding of workers’ rights over the last decade.
“The ability to sign multiple companies to one collective agreement where workers are often doing the same work helps to protect against one company trying to drag down market pay rates. Further, the duty to conclude means companies are obliged to come to an arrangement with workers and it ensures no one company can ignore the concerns of workers, such as what we are seeing with bus companies and some retailers.”
Mr Maga says the right to access workers in their workplaces ensures the union sees the common working environment, not the working environment the company wants to show.
“To be able to ensure workers are in safe working environments we need to be able to access workers at their respective work sites at a moment’s notice, access to workplaces without notices gives us a true perspective of that work environment.”
He says he’s disappointed with recent tactics from business lobby groups.
“The duty to conclude is nothing new, it simply ensures good practice from both sides and is a part of good faith bargaining. When people receive fair pay that values their work the economy is flush with spending power. Workers want sustainable business models that increase equality and the overall health of society, and businesses are responding by adopting more ethical work models. It’s time these lobby groups jumped on board and stopped trying to scaremonger progressive businesses into following their old, tired, defunct business models.”